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Focus Stacking Workshop

Dates: August 26-30, 2022

Meets: F, Sa and Tu from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM

Location: Online

Registration Fee: $139.00

During this workshop, you'll learn how to capture the focus-stacked images for macro, landscape, and still-life photographs, and you'll learn about the software options for processing these images into photographs that cannot be created any other way.

This eight-hour workshop consists of one Zoom lecture where the basics of focus stacking will be presented, a hands-on field workshop to practice those basics, and a final Zoom meeting for critique of focus-stacked images with time for Q&A.

  • Friday, August 26 - Zoom session from 6:30-8:30 PM
  • Saturday, August 27 - Field trip to UT Gardens, 2518 Jacob Dr., Knoxville, from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM
  • Tuesday, August 30 - Zoom session from 6:30-8:30 PM

Focus stacking is a technique where a series of individual images, each of which has a portion of the scene in focus, are combined in software to produce an increased or a selective depth of field (DOF) in the final image.

For years, photographers have struggled to have close-up or still-life images with an increased DOF and out-of-focus soft backgrounds while maintaining a reasonable shutter speed and low ISO. Similarly, photographers often want landscape images with sharp focus from foreground to background.

Depth of field is normally increased by using a larger f-stop number, but larger f-stop numbers like f-22 or larger can cause diffraction, which then blurs the image, and this can negate the gained increase in sharpness. Also, using a larger f-stop number requires a longer exposure time, which may cause blurry images from camera or subject movement.

Focus stacking allows the photographer to choose the f-stop that gives the sharpest image for the lens, typically around f-8. Focus stacking makes it possible to shoot a series of images with the best aperture and shutter speed combination and to combine those images in software to produce a final image that is sharp from the front to the back of the subject.

This technique can be used in close-up, still-life, and landscape photographer, with a few limitations (e.g., when you have subject motion). Focus stacking allows the photographer to generate the desired DOF for the best artistic merit or subject detail.

Equipment you'll need:

  • A camera and lens combination that can be easily manual focused or has an automatic focus-stacking option.
  • A lens that can focus on the subject, whether that is a broad scenic or macro.
  • A tripod to maintain the framing between individual images and avoid camera motion during long exposures. (Note: Your instructor has been successful in hand holding a focus-stacked image series using his Canon camera's focus stacking feature as long as the software used in post-processing aligns the individual images prior to stacking them.
  • A remote camera shutter release to prevent camera shake.

You'll need software to process your series of focus stacked images. Photoshop and Lightroom can be used for focus stacking, as well as other specialized software. The software options will be discussed in the first Zoom session.

Fee: $139.00


Ronald McConathy

Ron McConathy specializes in environmental portraiture, wedding, animal, and nature/science photography. He is a past president of Southern Appalachian Nature Photographers and a charter member of North American Nature Photography Association.

Date Day Time Location
08/26/2022Friday6:30 PM to 8:30 PM Online
08/27/2022Saturday6:30 PM to 8:30 PM Online
08/30/2022Tuesday6:30 PM to 8:30 PM Online


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