How to Merge Landscape Photos in Photoshop
In my previous post, I have explained how to do landscape photography by focus stacking. In this post, I am going to discuss how to merge those photos taken in landscape photography. However, first, let me remind you with some details about Focus stacking photography. Preliminarily, several images of the landscape are taken and then all those photos open with Photoshop for post-processing. In this tutorial, the steps of merging photos in Photoshop for focus stacking are going to be discussed:
STEP 1 CAPTURING MULTIPLE PHOTOS
During the photo shoot, I took multiple images of the same landscape scene in different focal distances. When I shoot pretty close up the camera focal plane is not wide enough to capture the entire scene as sharp as I wanted.
So I capture multiple photos. Each time I shift the focus. Most of the cases, I take only three shots for the subject to get the appropriate depth of field. In the first photo, I try to focus on the center and everything else blurred. Then, the following steps are followed in Photoshop to get the stacked photos.
STEP 2: ALIGN THE IMAGES
In Photoshop, I load all the images into the layer stack. I use Scripts>Load images as a stack or manually drag them all together. When I load the photos into Photoshop, they are not aligned properly. Therefore, I align the images in Photoshop. Select all the layers by pressing (Shift - Select). When all the layers are selected, I go to Edit>Auto-Align Layers. Then, I choose Auto so that Photoshop can automatically align the photos. Click OK and wait a couple of seconds and the output is generated with aligned layers.
STEP 3: BLEND LAYERS IN ONE PHOTO
Now in the third step, I blend all the layers in one photo. In Photoshop, auto blend all the layers by going to Go to Edit>Auto-Blend Layers. Upon going to the option, it prompts to Select Stack Images. Click ok and wait several seconds until all the layers are merged. I check each layer.
I suggest, if you want the whole photo sharp, you may need to take more pictures. You will get used to it after you have done a couple. So basically all the necessary steps required for stacking is done. Now the photo needs some cleanup. You can call that the 4th step of the processing.
STEP 4: CLEAN UP
It's time to clean up the image. I use the CROP tool by setting a crop area by dragging on the image. Also, I do make sure that I put all the layers in the cropped area. It puts all the layers in one smart object by selecting all the layers and converting them.
You can do this by Selecting all layers and Go to Filter>Convert for Smart Filters. Click Ok, and now you have a smart object. After this Go to Filter>Camera Raw Filter and bring down Highlights, Black and Vibrancy a little. Then Increase Contrast, Shadows, White and Clarity. Moreover, now it’s your final image.
So in conclusion, these steps are the general workflow for stacking photos in Photoshop. The first process is to clean dust spots and straighten up all the images. After that, you have to organize them in layers and merge them into smart objects. When the photos are combined into one Adjust exposure, contrast and color are applied to give the final touch to the generated picture. I hope following this process you would have a good photo with the desired depth of field.