Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Unlimited Depth Of Field
A revolutionary software package redefines what’s possible for you to achieve with sharp focus in a photograph
Think of all the times you’ve tried to capture that landscape spread out before your camera, sharply focused, from the flowers beneath your feet to the tree-topped mountains in the distance. That’s how your eyes see it, but your camera makes you choose the area you want to be in focus and blurs the rest. In macro, with even the best technique, you can’t get all the elements of a tiny subject, such as a butterfly or flower bud, in focus at the same time. You have to choose the part of the insect or blossom you want to emphasize and let the rest remain an artistic blur. We’ve all viewed these kinds of images and, as photographers, we’ve considered the optical limitations of cameras and lenses. We make allowances for the practical limits of sharp focus and appreciate the photographer’s skill in working to minimize blur or turn it to creative advantage.
Helicon Focus operates within a concept that should be familiar to those who work regularly in Photoshop. The photographer provides a series of images to the program, each sharply focused at a different point through the subject. The software combines the images in layers. As the composite is formed, the program selects from the layers the sharpest available rendition of each area of the image and masks the unsharp versions. The final result combines the best-defined choice for every portion of the image from among the options provided by the photographer into one image.
The drawbacks are few, and the results are consistently good. When demonstrated to a group of experienced photographers, this technique hits the “Wow!” factor every time. It’s not magic, even though it may seem to be. Using Helicon Focus requires advanced planning and specific intent. You must know what the program can do and what it needs from you before beginning to photograph a Helicon Focus composite. In short, if you’re planning on using Helicon Focus, you have to plan the photograph accordingly in the field in order to achieve the best result.
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