Behind the Photo: Focus Stacking for a Surreal PiP Effect

Aug 30, 2013

Behind the Photo: Focus Stacking for a Surreal PiP Effect

A couple of days ago, Joy and I had a photoshoot with our good friends Corey and Ashlee. We went to the Ludington State Park and had an excellent session; they were an excellent couple to work with and everyone had a great time. And while I usually don't post our shoots on my site, I wanted to give a quick overview of a particular (awesome) photo from our session with them.

The finished photo: notice the tree that should be running through the frame.

Here's a high-level overview of how that photo was made (click for a larger view):

How the photo was made: proper setup with the post-editing process in mind made this photo a win.

A few things we did to make this happen:

  • Knowing that our depth-of-field was going to be relatively shallow, we knew that we had to focus stack.
  • We started off by focusing on our subjects; we wanted them to get comfortable and make the pose happen naturally.
  • Getting the frame photo shortly after we got the pose helped ensure that in post-processing our vision had a template to follow.
  • In post, it was just a matter of putting the two photos in layers, adding a couple of layer masks, and cloning away the tree that ran through the frame.

Overall, I'm really happy with this photo. Not only is it a good picture in-and-of itself, the effect draws interest to the "how" of the photo.


So I just realized my "In-Focus Subjects" inset photo is actually the same one as the finished photo. Apparently I imported the wrong image when making the composite. Here is the actual "In-Focus Subjects":