Stacking a Tree (no wind allowed)

Posted: October 10, 2013 in Photography

Our Maple Tree (Stacked 40-55)

I haven’t seen many stacked images similar to this one so I thought I’d share it. This photo is a composite of 15 separate images of the Maple tree in our backyard. Each image is focused on a slightly different part of the tree and when they are all combined the goal is to have a clear image throughout the photo. You can see whether I succeeded by clicking on the image above (but warning, the full-sized image is a little large and may be slow to load over some connections).

The reason you typically don’t see stacking as a way to achieve front to back (or here top to bottom) depth of field with things like this tree is that leave moves too much. In order to obtain a good picture, it is critically important that the object from which the stacked image is made doesn’t move noticeably. When I went out into the backyard on a recent morning the sun was just starting to catch the leaves at the top of the tree. It is usually one of the more colorful trees in the neighbor but the leaves are just beginning to change so it wasn’t a huge show of nature’s splendor.  However, there was one thing that really caught my attention — there was no wind in the tree. Being an odd sort of guy, I immediately thought can I get a stacked photo of the tree? Why not try” I hurried inside put, a wide-angle lens on my T3i, and slapped the camera on my Manfrotto 055CXPRO3 Tripod with a Manfrotto 808RC4 3-way head. Those of you who read this blog know that I almost never mention equipment since it usually isn’t relevant. However in this case I needed to quickly get my camera close to the tree and low to the ground and rock steady and the camera had to have an articulated screen because I wasn’t going to be able to look through the eye piece or a regular screen that is in a fixed position at the back of the camera. I purchased a reconditioned T3i from Canon a while back and this type of situation is the reason why. The Manfrotto tripod and head will get into almost any conceivable position because the tripods legs spread out to nearly flat and lock tight easily. In this position, the tripod is very stable. The head can be moved to get into every position I have needed so far. This all would have been useless if I had not been able to see the screen, but the T3i’s articulated screen flipped out and into perfect position seconds. I set the camera to exposure preferred because I needed to know that the depth of field was going to be as I adjusted the focus to get stackable photos. I chose to go with an f/8 aperture that gave me reasonable depth of field yet didn’t result in horribly long exposure times. I took 15 photos and used them all. Happily, there was very little movement in the tree. I hope you enjoy this and take a look at how well I did or did not do by looking at the full-sized image.

  1. This is brilliant! Such patience to capture all those shots, but the final photo is stunning! 🙂


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