Flower – Stacking With Helicon Focus

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21 thoughts on “Flower – Stacking With Helicon Focus

  1. Steve,
    Thank you very much for this outstanding series on focus stacking. I have been using both Helicon and Zerene for a couple of years, but still learned quite a lot from the videos.

    One thing you didn’t mention about exporting the stack from Lightroom is that you can export directly to Helicon or Zerene rather than to a temporary folder on the hard drive. This former option is what I have been using and this avoids the necessity of loading the images into the stacking program and deleting the folder when stacking is finished.

    One advantage of exporting to a temporary folder is that one can come back at a later time and perform additional stacking without the necessity to re-render the raw files to TIFFs. With a stack of 50 or 100 images, rendering to TIFFs can take quite a bit of time even with a fast computer.

    Best regards,
    Bill

    1. I may add that as a supplemental video down the road. The course is meant for everyone using any RAW processor and I’m just not sure how Helicon and Zerene interact with other RAW processors. The method shown should work be adaptable for everyone, no matter what they use.

  2. Steve – I am new to Helicon Focus and I have found these videos really useful. I did wonder why you didn’t mention importing files as DNG rather than TIFF direct from Lightroom. Are thre problems with going down this route?

    1. I may add that as a supplemental video down the road. The course is meant for everyone using any RAW processor and I’m just not sure how Helicon and Zerene interact with other RAW processors. The method shown should work be adaptable for everyone, no matter what they use.

  3. Great series so far, thanks for all the tips. As I watched you make the initial adjustments to the series in Lightroom, I wondered if you would have made the same adjustments if you started with the front of the flower. Which made me think of using LRTimelapse to make a smooth transition from adjustments at the front of the flower to the back of the flower. Any thoughts?

    1. Hi John –

      You probably could use it, but I would urge caution. I’ve been stacking pretty much since my first digital camera (much mo enow thanks to Focus Shift Shooting) and most of the time you want all the images to have the exact same treatment during post processing. Variance almost (not always, but almost) always leads to problems stacking. That’s why I recommend shooting in consistent light and syncing all the images using the same master adjustments. Something like LRTimelapse might be be an exception since it looks like it would be smoother, but I’d still exercise caution.

  4. Hi Steve

    I am a big fan of Helicon Focus, learned quite a bit!! At what point in this overall process would you sharpen and/or correct for noise?

    1. It’s usually in the final Lightroom and Photoshop steps – after stacking. Ideally (although not always) usually with noise getting done right off the bat (more important if the noise is bad), then sharpening last if needed. I do find that most stacked images benefit from a touch of sharpening though.

  5. Echoing Mick’s question above, I find exporting to helicon as a DNG file directly from Lightroom Classic maintains the raw data and allows easy import back to Lightroom without going through the TIFF external folder process you describe. Is there a reason to not do it with DNG conversion?

    1. I may add that as a supplemental video down the road. The course is meant for everyone using any RAW processor and I’m just not sure how Helicon and Zerene interact with other RAW processors. The method shown should work be adaptable for everyone, no matter what they use.

  6. Hi Steve –
    Thanks for this series on focus stacking. Your instruction on using the various editing tools will doubtless save me countless hours of trial and error. I would like to recommend to anyone that even if you do not own a Nikon camera with focus shift capabilities this series is worth the price. So if you are like me and still use a focusing rail for your macro stacking shots you will better understand why your stacks did not quite work as well as you had hoped and you will have the knowledge to make the adjustments.

  7. Hi Steve
    I’m using Helicon 7.5.1 on a Desktop Mac with OS 10.13.6 (High Sierra) Watching your Helicon retouching video I have a question about the ‘F9 to load image’ option. This is not working for me. I suspect a keyboard combination but maybe something else. I tried a few other keys with F9 but no joy. You mentioned FunctionF9 but that is laptop based workaround I think. Any suggestions? Thanks!

    1. Hi Don –

      I’m actually using a Mac keyboard with my iMac, so it’s not a laptop-based thing. I did find this on Apple’s site:

      On your Mac, choose Apple menu > System Preferences, click Keyboard, then click Keyboard.
      Select “Use F1, F2, etc. keys as standard function keys.”

      However, I think when you do that the other functions apple uses with those keys (like playback controls for instance) will no longer work as expected.

  8. OK, upgraded to latest version. Still nothing for the F9 key.

  9. And…I finally noticed the fn key (below F13) on my keyboard. Using fn-F9 works! All good now.

  10. Just a comment – Lightroom always imported and showed PSD files. It was the PSB files it didn’t show until the release just before the current V10 release. Terrific course!

  11. Hi Steve,
    Great video course – I’ve learned a new technique (focus shift/stacking) and have been enjoying experimenting with it. I found your modules to be very clear, easily understandable, and to the point – everything one needs to understand how to do photo stacking. I’ve since downloaded Helicon Stacker and have found it very easy to use, thanks to your excellent introduction. Your course also has encouraged me to learn Lightroom – something that’s been on my to-do list for awhile (I’m mainly a PS user). Anyway, thanks for putting together such an outstanding course – the best $20 I’ve ever spent! Keep up the great work!

    Clark

  12. Thank you for a great class on focus stacking. I was able to finally do it thanks to you. Had better results with a flower in my light box. Aloha from Maui.

  13. Cloning at 20% opacity. Never seen that before. That’s a brilliant tip.

  14. Thank you for a great course. Your welcoming style and relaxed competance entertain and inform. What’s next?

  15. Hi Steve,

    Thanks for that great course.
    may I ask which license do you have? isn’t it possible to retouch with the lite license? when I try to clone from a stack pic it suggests to upgrade to the pro license ☹️

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