UWOL 23 Focus Pocus Steve siegel at DVinfo.net

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Old July 6th, 2012, 06:52 PM   #1
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UWOL 23 Focus Pocus Steve siegel

There it was. A photo of a large crowd of people standing on a subway platform. The faces of the people in front, talking, laughing, reading newspapers were all in focus. But so were those way in the back. They looked smaller, of course, but you could tell exactly what they were doing. Everybody was in focus.
This was new to me. The caption said it was done by “focus stacking”. You shoot various distances into the scene, focus at each distance, then trim and combine them all in Photoshop to make a focused panorama. Macro photographers do it all the time with flies and such, where the depth of field is like a millimeter.
Would this work in video? I didn’t know, and if this is old news to the UWOL community, please forgive me for sounding like a kid with a new toy. Maybe it will be new to one or two of you. I know that lots of UWOLers use a similar technique shooting time-lapse cloud scenes, to keep the ground movement from looking sped up, but this is a little different.
The short answer is yes, focus stacking does work, but there are major constraints on how and when you can use it. I have posted a complete description of the technique on my blog Birds Unwrapped if anyone wants to look.
The other problem was to get a “how-to” video to fit Lorinda’s Forces of Nature theme. I had planned to do this film since UWOL 22, and was going to…one way or the other. As it did for me once before, mathematics came to the rescue. There is more to the forces of Nature than just volcanoes, hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires and avalanches. Natural forces act upon us constantly, from dropping a plate on the floor, to driving your car, to seeing the light reflected from a work of art. Each of these natural events is described by its own set of equations. Indeed, anything that happens in the world is controlled by a Force of Nature…even focusing a camera.
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Old July 7th, 2012, 04:36 AM   #2
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Re: UWOL 23 Focus Pocus Steve siegel

Steve first of all you should provide a link to the video in your thread, so we can find your video easily!

Very informative and nice video! Your narrating is strong and easy to follow! I learned a lot from this one!
The following pan of the coot was nice, I know how fast they accelerating :)

Colors and sharpness are very good, what are you recording at this days?
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Old July 7th, 2012, 12:32 PM   #3
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Re: UWOL 23 Focus Pocus Steve siegel

Steve, thanks for a really informative video. I have used focus stacking for macro photography, but haven't tried it with video. It is definitely something I will explore. Your website has a great explanation of how to do this, thanks for posting it.

The footage itself was really nice, the songbird footage, the coot, really all of it. Esthetic and educational, thanks for a great film.
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Old July 7th, 2012, 01:55 PM   #4
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Re: UWOL 23 Focus Pocus Steve siegel

Focus staking, never heard of it, just thought you could go wide and everything is in focus.
I'm going to have to look at this again and give it a try. This is a really informative video and
very well put together.
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Old July 7th, 2012, 03:42 PM   #5
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Re: UWOL 23 Focus Pocus Steve siegel

Steve,

In a world obsessed with shallow-depth-of-field its refreshing to find you actively working to thwart the trend with your scientific eye to detail.

In previous videos I used to blur out parts of the background in post to try and achieve shallow DOF, and its funny that in this episode I went crazy with my new toy, trying to get everything out of focus, and racking it back and forth.

But I get what you are saying here. Even using a 1/3 sensor camera like the XLH1, once you zoom in to a subject in the distance you get pretty shallow DOF, and there is little you can do to control it. This brings back the control; so long as the subject is relatively stationary!

Your final demonstration of the technique is flawless. Nice work.
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Old July 7th, 2012, 03:42 PM   #6
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Re: UWOL 23 Focus Pocus Steve siegel

I'm glad that so many people find this informative. My intent was to bring something new.

Per, The video is on the UWOL Vimeo page with all the others. I couldn't find a way to link specifically to it.
Currently I am shooting with a Sony EX3, Nikon 80-400 zoom. These shots were all at 1080 30p, but I use 720 60p for better slowmotion in flight shots. As far as color, the Sony has a large range of choices. Last night I happened upon a website (Nature sounds) by Lang Elliott. He has a video gallery. Look at his Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Ovenbird and others. The colors are intense...more than natural but not artificial just beautiful. He is using a 7D with a 500mm fixed and extenders. I'm going to change settings to try to duplicate it.
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Old July 8th, 2012, 03:07 PM   #7
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Re: UWOL 23 Focus Pocus Steve siegel

Steve
Yes this an interesting idea and can be a challenge to pull off. I've heard of using it in macro still photography but never even thought of trying in on video. Looks kind of neat when the shots come together. You definitely got people thinking.

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Old July 8th, 2012, 04:21 PM   #8
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Re: UWOL 23 Focus Pocus Steve siegel

Steve,
I really like what you produced here.
Thank you for the focus stack! I'll have to try it out sometime.
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Old July 9th, 2012, 10:22 AM   #9
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Re: UWOL 23 Focus Pocus Steve siegel

Hi Steve. You really perked up my interest last round when you mentioned this. I’m glad the theme allowed you to do it this time. I have done a little focus stacking with macro using a dozen or more layers and I couldn’t wrap my head around how you would use that many layers in video. Mystery solved. Using two or three layers makes much more sense and your results are great. (I haven’t had a chance to read your Blog yet but will do.) This stack compositing technique can also be used for exposure stacking for subjects such as blown out skies. Good work.
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Old July 10th, 2012, 04:20 AM   #10
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Re: UWOL 23 Focus Pocus Steve siegel

Giday there Steve,

Amazing to say the least. Loved the first section with the scientific formulars (serious stuff) with a contrasting light bubbly music. Then into a demo on focus stacking. You really got me thinking. The conclusion of the poppy fields and grave was an unexpected, delightful ending. Top class job and thank you.
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