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Duncan | all galleries >> Macro pictures >> Focus stacking tests > Cicada profile focus stack
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21-JUL-2013

Cicada profile focus stack

I live in northern Virginia, in the DC suburbs. We were supposed to have an invasion of "Brood II" 17 year cicadas, but they never showed up.

I got a small break yesterday when I found an annual cicada (similar in appearance to the 17 year variety but lacking the striking red eyes.)

It was still alive, but barely. I waited until it expired, and then took it down to my basement focus stacking station.

I shot it with my D600 Tamron 90 mm f/2.8 1:1 macro lens, and lit with an older Elinchrom Style 300s studio flash fired through a too-large softbox. (Its the only softbox I have.)

I think I will try for a smaller light-source next time. The softbox is TOO big a light source. I'll probably try firing my studio flash into a diffuser, perhaps through a snoot. That gives directional light with soft-edged highlights that look quite natural.

The first shot, a head-on of the cicada, consisted of some 120 exposures. I think the focus step was smaller than it needed to be, but my trial copy of Helicon Remote had expired, and I have not heard back from them on a license for just the remote software.

I used Camera Control Pro 2 instead, and it's focus control is much more crude. The original image was a full front--to-back focus stack, but I've cropped it quite a bit for posting online. Even still, it's a HUGE image.

I continue to be amazed at the detail and clarity you can get out of focus stacks.

This is the second series I took, a profile. It was made from "only" about 56 images. It used less both because the depth of focus was narrower and because I increased the focus step for most of the shots. Nikon Camera Control's focus control is pretty brain-damaged. There is a slider control that lets you change the focus step amount, but the stupid thing resets to it's (too small) default setting after every shot. I continue to be underwhelmed by Nikon's computer software, especially on Macintosh.

Helicon Remote lets me set the near and far focus points, calculates a recommended focus step, and then will shoot the entire sequence automatically. Nikon Camera Control, on the other hand, requires that I click a shoot button, click to change the focus step slider, click the focus change button, then repeat, over and over and

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JB24-Jul-2013 09:44
Another Wow! shot Duncan.