Stacking Images Using Photoshop CS4

Here’s how to go about using image stacking.

Start out in Adobe Bridge, by selecting the images to be used in the stack. Then, in the menu go to Tools/Photoshop/Load Files into Photoshop Layers.

cs4-stack1

This will open PS and make 1 image with all the selected images in layers.

Next, in the Select Menu, go to Select Similar Layers, which will select all the layers. You could also select them in the layers pallet instead.

cs4-stack2

From the Edit Menu, go to Auto-Align Layers and from the pop-up window, select Auto.

cs4-stack3

Our next step is back at the Edit Menu/Auto-Blend Layers, which will bring up another pop-up window, select Stack Images and check Seamless Tones and Colors.

cs4-stack5

Now the number crunching begins, and depending on your files sizes and number of images in the stack, this can take a while! The final output is in layers, and you can see how PS handles the masking and what areas are used from each image by turning on and off, individual layers. Until it’s flattened, the view on screen sometimes shows white edges at some magnifications.

siberianminerslettucestack

This is Siberian Miner’s Lettuce, a very small flower, about 8mm across. It was shot 120mm from the flower, with a 60mm macro lens and a Canon 40d. This gives an approximately 1:1 image, where the depth of field for a single image is 0.446837 mm. At this angle, the depth I needed in focus was around 2.5mm and 7 images did this just fine.

If I’d stopped down to f16, I’d have lost some image quality due to diffraction and it still would have required 2 images, as the DOF would only have increased to 1.276708 mm.

I created an action to do all the steps after selecting them in Bridge and opening them in CS4, but I don’t have a clue as to how to make it available to others. You can create one too, if you know how to create actions, it’s a real time saver in getting through the steps.

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2 Responses to “Stacking Images Using Photoshop CS4”

  1. I’ve been using Photoshop CS2 for some time now, really feel like getting the newer CS4. Reading the posts makes me even more keen to upgrade. I’m a kind of a noob when it comes to learning a new program. Is there a major difference between the 2 programs, or can I easily start using CS4 as I’ve used CS2 before?

  2. Ug, FINALLY the first easy-to-understand instructions for stacking images! Thank you so much! 😀

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