Game Changer: Keep Multiple Animals Sharp At The Same Time

Have you ever run into a situation where you had multiple animals in the frame and just couldn’t find a way to keep them all sharp at the same time – even when you stopped down?

This is actually a really common problem for close and mid-range shots of small to medium-sized wildlife. In fact, most of the time there’s no conventional way to make both animals sharp unless they are on the same focus plane.

However, there is a really cool unconventional way to do it! In this video, I’ll show you a handy field / Photoshop technique that will allow you to do the impossible. Check it out!

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NOTE – Update!

A YouTube commenter mentioned that another good way to align images manually if Auto Align doesn’t work. Instead of dropping opacity, switch the blend mode of the top image to “Difference”. Then, make it as dark / black as you can when lining them up. Once lined up, switch the blend mode back to Normal mode. Works really well – I think I may even like it better.

PS – If you enjoyed this post, I think you’ll REALLY like my e-books and video workshops! Thousands of pages and hours of videos filled with tips, tricks, and techniques – all my best content! Check ’em out – click here (hey, it’s free to look).

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MARK MCFARLANE
MARK MCFARLANE
1 year ago

Thanks Steve for the continuing excellent education. FWIW, regarding exposure compensation while shooting RAW, I normally just look at the individual RGB histograms and adjust exposure to capture the full range of tonalities while avoiding highlight clipping. As long as I don’t have clipping on either end of the histograms I am confident I can get the final image I want with a little work in LR. The RAW image may not look great unprocessed but the shadow and highlights can be placed where I want them during processing. Any thoughts on potential problems with this approach?

Lutz Lehmann
Lutz Lehmann
2 years ago

Hi Steve, while watching your video I thought about photo contests and how they treat post processing and focus stacking in their rules. World landscape photographer for example explicitly allows focus stacking. Would you say that your technique would be treated as focus stacking or could it be see more as an image manipulation?

Janusz Abramowicz
Janusz Abramowicz
2 years ago

Hi Steve – another good instruction. Thank you. On a side note, are there any workshops planned for Costa Rica in the near future?

Pierre
2 years ago

Excellent idea on how to use phot stacking

Jeff
2 years ago

Thanks Steve for the nice tutorial. I’m gonna have to go back and review the in software portion (I do use PS and LR) again when I try this cause my simple brain couldn’t handle all the cool info at once

Tom
Tom
2 years ago

Super idea! I can’t wait to try it. Not surprisingly, I am really enjoying your book on Nikon’s DSLR autofocus system. You’ve done a lot of experimenting to get this info, so I don’t have to,

Shanti
Shanti
2 years ago

Thanks for the cool tip there, but in some cases can’t you just focus in-between the 2 animals @ F16-32 ,and there should be enough DOF so both are in focus. I have had success with birds in the water , deer etc.. as long as they are still .

John Barclay
John Barclay
2 years ago

That video was really helpful Steve. Thank you.

David Sneddon
David Sneddon
2 years ago

Heh Steve as always clear, informative and easy to understand, you are a gifted teacher. Thank you again.

Darren McTee
2 years ago

Great stuff as always Steve! It was like watching magic happen during the blend. Now I need to take some shots that i can try this with! Thanks for everything you publish. I learn so much from you.

rudolf
2 years ago

Once again, Steve, your video is top and so easy to understand and learn. Thx a bunch!

Cathy Czajkowski
Cathy Czajkowski
2 years ago

Great idea, and very good instructions! I noticed there’s another baby under mama’s other wing. Its back is facing outward. Great capture, Steve!

Cathy Czajkowski
Cathy Czajkowski
2 years ago
Reply to  Steve Perry

No need to be embarrassed; you were “focused” on teaching us your technique.

Susan Scharenberg
Susan Scharenberg
2 years ago

Just the thing, thanks Steve! Now I can save some of the multiple-animal shots I would otherwise toss.

Gilles Naud
2 years ago

That’s terrific Steve. Not only the pedagogic approach (you teach very well!) but the technique itself. What you depict here is indeed a familiar problem that we often have to solve. When I saw your approach, I immediately tought: “That’s cool: I’ll just use the built-in focus stacking tool in my Olympus OM-D E-M1; it fires off at electronic shutter speed and does all the assembly otherwise needed in Post”. Well, let me tell you: that’s easier said than done. If using focus stacking, I have to shoot what’s in the ‘middle’ focus plane (or the point ‘between’ the animals,… Read more »

JOHN BENT
JOHN BENT
2 years ago

That’s a really nice technique, Steve! Thanks for sharing it. I can see several examples of where I could apply it (should have known).

Glen Fox
Glen Fox
2 years ago

Steve, you are a superb teacher. Your photoshop demos are the best I have seen anywhere and I hope someday you will do a Photoshop course. Stay Safe!

Chris Taylor
Chris Taylor
2 years ago

Excellent (as always!) demonstration, Steve. Thanks.

T. J. McGovern
T. J. McGovern
2 years ago

If you don’t have Lightroom, you can open the images in Bridge, go to Tools>Photoshop>Load Files Into Photoshop Layers, or if you want an extra step or three, in Bridge, select the images, right click and choose Open in Camera Raw, then then proceed according to the instructions for Lightroom in the video.

Ashok Kandimalla
Ashok Kandimalla
2 years ago

Simple and nice. Can this be used with automatic stacking feature of D850 and Z cameras? Thanks.

Chris Taylor
Chris Taylor
2 years ago

I think it should work fine with in-camera focus stacking. The focus stacking in the camera replaces the first part in the field where Steve shows taking shots at different points of focus. you would then pick out the final images that (in this case) show the 2 birds in sharpest focus.

Ashok Kandimalla
Ashok Kandimalla
2 years ago
Reply to  Steve Perry

Yes I agree and you have a point. Thanks.