Focus Stacking And Its Application Within Macro Photography

Sunflower bud (Using a stack of 20 slices captured with a Canon 100mm f/2.8L Macro lens)
Sunflower bud (Using a stack of 20 slices captured with a Canon 100mm f/2.8L Macro lens)

Macro photography is the field in photography related to capturing images of small subjects. We might be interested in capturing images of that cool looking flower, documenting up-close, a piece of jewelry (figure 2), showing common spices in an uncommon way (figures 3 and 4) or showing the intricate texture of a butterfly wing (figure 5). All of these subjects fall into the realm of Macro photography. 

Figure 2: Ear Jewelry – Up Close (Using a stack of 15 slices captured with a Canon 100mm f/2.8L Macro lens)

Generally, Macro photography is sub-divided into two arenas: Close-up photography and true Macro photography. In Close-up photography the subject is generally smaller than a loaf of bread (my rather arbitrary upper-end definition) but larger than the size of the camera’s sensor (roughly the size of a postage stamp). In true Macro photography, the subject’s size is generally equal to or smaller than the camera’s sensor. Why differentiate between the two? In Close-up photography all of the typical photography concepts apply, especially that of depth of field (the amount of your image that is clear and in focus). We adjust the lens aperture to influence the depth of field, where smaller the apertures (higher “f-numbers”) result in a greater depth of field. Unfortunately, in true Macro photography, this is not the case. In small subjects that require greater magnification, increasing the aperture often fails to yield a sufficient increase in the depth of field to be useful. For example, in the image of the peppercorns (figure 3), the apparent depth of field only covers the depth of one individual peppercorn.

Figure 3:A Peppercorn Review (Using a stack of 29 slices captured with a Canon 100mm f/2.8L Macro lens)
Figure 3: A Peppercorn Review (Using a stack of 29 slices captured with a Canon 100mm f/2.8L Macro lens)
Figure 4:Table Salt (Using a stack of 48 slices captured with a Canon MP-E 65mm f/2.8 1-5x Macro lens)
Figure 4: Table Salt (Using a stack of 48 slices captured with a Canon MP-E 65mm f/2.8 1-5x Macro lens)

So how do we obtain images where the entire field of subjects is clear and in focus when the depth of field too small? In these cases, we employ a technique called “Focus Stacking”. In Focus Stacking, we collect multiple images of a single subject where each image allows the clear and focused capture of different parts of the subject. These images (referred to as a “focus slices”) are then combined using specialized software to consolidate all of the sharp regions into a single sharp image. This is similar to the process of High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography where images of differing exposure are combined to generate a final image containing an expanded dynamic range of exposure.

Two common photographic applications lend themselves to this technique. The first is in landscape photography. In this type of photography often, wish to capture the foreground, midground and background in clear detail. To accomplish this, we might use a small aperture setting (f/22 or f/32) or we might attempt to apply an appropriate hyperfocal distance, which may or may not be effective. Alternatively, we might take one image where the foreground is in focus, another where the midground is in focus and a third which the background in focus (with the camera mounted on a tripod). These images are combined in Photoshop (or a similar application) as layers. Next, we scale and align the layers, determine the sharp parts of each layer and employ masks to hide the out of focus regions of each layer, yielding a single image completely in focus. This is the Focus Stacking process.

Figure 5:Textures of a Butterfly Wing (Using a stack of 25 slices captured with a Canon MP-E 65mm f/2.8 1-5x Macro lens)
Figure 5: Textures of a Butterfly Wing (Using a stack of 25 slices captured with a Canon MP-E 65mm f/2.8 1-5x Macro lens)

The second more common application of the Focus Stacking process is in Macro photography.

Focus Stacking in Macro Photography

Focus Stacking – The First Steps

Figure 3: A Peppercorn Review (Using a stack of 29 slices captured with a Canon 100mm f/2.8L Macro lens)
Figure 3: A Peppercorn Review (Using a stack of 29 slices captured with a Canon 100mm f/2.8L Macro lens)

The first step in the stacking process requires a bit of observation and decision-making. We first need to decide how much of our subject we wish to be in focus. We call this area the “subject field”. In the peppercorn image (figure 3), the subject field includes all of the peppercorns present, not just anyone peppercorn. Next, we need to look through our camera / lens to establish if all of the subject field can be sharply captured in one shot. If the subject field is roughly larger than a postage stamp, chances are that we might be able to leverage our aperture settings to sharply capture the entire subject field and stacking may not be required. However, this is only a rough guess and can depend upon the magnification employed, the lens used, the amount of critical detail in our subject and our artistic intent. Here it is often wise to take a few test shots to confirm how much of the subject is actually in focus.  Note that we gain a bit more depth of field in the actual image than what we see in the viewfinder, so these test shots can be important. Personally, if I am right on the edge of clear detection, I will take a few shots at a small aperture and then move forward with the stacking process. It can be frustrating to capture an image whose subject is mostly sharp but slightly soft around the edges, so I collect as much data as I can when I shoot.

Focus Stacking – Generating Sharp Images

Next, we need to set-up our camera to maximize the collection of sharp images. In almost all of my images, I stabilize my camera on a tripod and use a remote shutter release (or a two-second shutter delay) to minimize camera movement. Here one can also minimize camera vibration by employing the ‘mirror lockup’ mode (where the first shutter release allows the internal mirror to move out of the light path, and a delayed second shutter release actually activates the shutter) or shoot in “Live View” where the mirror is already stowed out of the light path. Alternatively, using a mirrorless camera avoids these mirror related issues.

Using a tripod has the additional benefit of allowing the use of longer shutter speeds. I am not averse to using shutter speeds of two or more seconds if it allows the use of ambient light. Given the choice of slow shutter speed with ambient light, or fast shutter speed with a flash, I tend to employ ambient light, but that is a personal preference. Note though, if my macro subject is moving (as if often the case with bugs) the flash option may be appropriate, but in such cases focus stacking is most likely not an option. Setting up the camera/tripod contraption can take some extended time and effort, especially if we are shooting in the field, but I find that this is an advantage as it slows me down some, and allows my observational and creative abilities to catch up with my enthusiasm and excitement during the shoot.

Focus Stacking – Collecting the Focus Slices

Our goal in collecting these slices is to collect a sufficient number of slices to ensure that every part of the subject field is sharply captured in at least one of the collected images. As we collect the images we move our focal plane through the subject (sometimes referred to as “focus travel”) while ensuring there is some clarity overlap between the slices. As we collect these slices, we adjust our focal plane without changing anything else. How many slices will be required? That depends upon the actual depth of field you obtain with your lens and camera settings. This is empirically determined and becomes more evident as you gain experience in the process.

Collecting the Focus Slices using Lens Focusing

There are many ways of changing the focus point (focal plane) in your image.

The first method is to keep the camera stationary and to adjust the focus by manually adjusting the focus mechanism of the lens. This takes a bit of practice to subtly make small adjustments. As I do this I am looking through the viewfinder (or viewing in Live View) to gauge the result of each adjustment. 

I first visually establish the actual depth of field my equipment yields (how much of the scene in my viewfinder is actually in focus) and mentally decide upon the start and endpoints of the collection cycle. I then adjust the focus so that one edge of the subject field is in focus, take the slice image, adjust the focus so that just a bit more of the subject is in focus and continue collecting slice images. I continue this process until the entire subject field has been captured in the focus slice collection of images. I often start at the near edge of the subject field, collect slices through the entire subject field, and then stop once I pass through the far edge. Then I collect the second set of slices starting at the far edge and move toward the near edge. However, it does not matter if you start at the near or far edge of the subject field. Additionally, the slices do not need to be collected in positionally consecutive order. This process will yield two separate sets of images and result in two separate stacked images. Normally we do not set-up our shots and only take one image. We take several images if possible. The same concept applies here as well, so I collect several sets of focus slices for each image I capture.

I tend to take more slices than what is actually required in this collection process. If we collect too few slices or do not have sufficient overlap in the sharp regions of our slices, our final stacked image may appear to have waves of sharp and soft regions throughout the image. If this is the case, we need to collect more slices with less focus travel between each slice, and to ensure that there is more clarity overlap between the slices. I also tend to take more slices at the start and end of each collection cycle. It can be quite frustrating to generate an image that is sharp throughout, except for the edges where if you had just collected a few more slices at the start (or at the end) all would be cool (“Been there, Done that, Have the tee shirt…”). Therefore, I collect more slices than I think I will need at this stage and discard the excess slices later.

This process creates a lot of images and files, so one trick I employ is to take an image of my hand at the start and finish of each slice collection. This allows me to easily establish where stacks start and stop when I download images onto my computer. This is also an effective trick when collecting HDR or Panoramic image sets.

An alternative process in making focus adjustments is to use an attachment or automated system to adjust the focus of the lens. The HeliconSoft Helicon FB Tube ( is an example of one type of focus adjustment attachment. This tube mounts between the camera body and the macro lens and automatically readjusts the focus of the lens after each shot. Another example is the CamRanger 2 system ( which enables remote smartphone access to your camera and/or the automated adjustment of the lens focus.

Finally, newer upper-end camera systems are now beginning to incorporate automated lens focusing within their native systems. This capability is dubbed “Focus Shifting” in the Nikon D850, “Focus Bracketing” in the Canon EOS-RP, and “Focus Bracketing” in the Fujifilm X-T1, X-T2, X-T3 and X-T30 systems (to cite a few). I expect that we will see more of this in future camera releases. These systems aid in the generation of the focus slices, but still require external software to perform the actual image stacking.

Collecting the Focus Slices Using Camera Positioning

A second method of adjusting the focal plane when generating focus slices is to leave the lens focus at a set position and to physically move the camera. We could move the entire camera/tripod setup between shots, but this is rather impractical. Instead, we employ a piece of hardware called a “focusing rail”. The focusing rail base mounts on the tripod, and the camera is then mounted on a rail-attached platform whose positioning is manually controlled via a micrometer based transport system. As we turn the micrometer, the platform (and mounted camera) moves in small minute steps along the rails. These systems can precisely control camera movement in one or two dimensions.

One example of a simple yet effective one-dimensional focusing rail system is the Manfrotto 454 Micrometric Positioning Sliding Plate (, figure 6). In this system, one complete turn of the micrometer moves the camera one millimeter (1/25 of an inch) in a single direction. Therefore, if it is difficult to manually adjust the focus barrel of a lens, we can mount the camera on the focus rail and use the micrometer for any fine adjustments. 

Figure 6:The Manfrotto 454 Micrometric Positioning Sliding Plate (an example of a manual Focus Rail)
Figure 6: The Manfrotto 454 Micrometric Positioning Sliding Plate (an example of a manual Focus Rail)
Figure 4: Table Salt (Using a stack of 48 slices captured with a Canon MP-E 65mm f/2.8 1-5x Macro lens)
Figure 4: Table Salt (Using a stack of 48 slices captured with a Canon MP-E 65mm f/2.8 1-5x Macro lens)

For advanced Macro photography where very precise control of the camera movement may be required, there are automated focus rail systems, in which the rail movement is controlled by precision stepper motors. An example of such a system is the Cognisys StackShot system (, figure 7). The rail movement in this system is controlled by precisely controlled stepper motors, allowing for very precise camera movement and focus slice generation. In this system, the entire slice collection process (adjustment, shooting, readjustment, and shooting) can be automated and remotely controlled. In the image of the salt crystal (figure 4) the magnification was quite large and the effective depth of field was exceedingly small (around 1/3 of a salt grain or 1/250 of an inch). In this case, it was impractical to refocus the lens or to manually move the camera when generating the focus slices. Here the automated movement in the Cognisys StackShot system was used to generate the 48 individual focus slices required to create this image.

A third process used in collecting the slices is to focus upon the subject while handholding the camera, and to slightly rock back a forth while shooting the slices (perhaps using a burst mode). This requires quite a bit of practice to master the slight body movements required to minutely alter the focus plane within the focus slice collection. In this less systematic process, there is a bit of “spray and pray” involved, in that you hope that all of the relevant parts of the subject field have been sharply captured within the slice collection. In addition, the images are most likely not captured in positionally consecutive order, however, this is generally not an issue with today’s stacking software. This technique is often employed where one does not have time to systematically set up the camera and tripod. A wonderful example of this technique is in the macro snowflake photography of Don Komarechka ( where the rapid sublimation of the snowflakes often precludes a structured setup process.

In should be noted here that as we generate our focus slices, the size of the subject changes slightly. However, there is no need to panic. During the focus stacking process, the stacking software automatically scales the size of each image to ensure the maximum alignment of our slice images, so the slight changes in our subject size will be accounted and corrected for, accordingly. 

Figure 7:The Cognisys StackShot system (an example of an automated Focus Rail)
Figure 7: The Cognisys StackShot system (an example of an automated Focus Rail)

In the focus adjusting system examples discussed, we have noted both manual and automated focusing systems. Which is better? My answer starts with my answer to most photography questions, It Depends. Generally, when I am generating my focus slices, I like to observe the progression of the process and to judge if the focus slices I generate include the sharp capture of all of the most relevant portions of the subject field. The number of the slices I collect and the distance between each slice is empirically established and is the result of my cumulative experience and error (lots of error). So I tend to favor the manual systems initially. However, when I encounter a situation where I have previously worked out most of the basic collection parameters (such as; ‘this is the 5th subject of the same size and magnification of this shoot’) I may use a more automated system (such as the Helicon FB Tube). Finally, in the case of extreme magnification, which requires very small adjustments I may need to rely upon a precise, automated system (as I did with the salt crystal image in (figure 4). One of the weaknesses of the automated systems though is that generally, we may not discover if we have captured all of the critical parts of your subject field until after the fact when we see our images on the computer, so there is a bit of faith required when these systems are employed.

This leads us to a final point. How precisely do I need to pre-calculate all of the relevant parameters? One could mathematically calculate the magnification employed, the optimal focal distance, the actual depth of field, the number of focus slices required to cover the target subject field given a set depth of field and overlap, and some do. However, I do not because when all is said and done, I empirically figure out what it is I need to do, and do it, without resorting to any calculational gymnastics. It works for me, as it does for many others, but the level of technical detail employed is really up to each individual.

Focus Stacking – Stacking

Now that we have collected our focus slices, we need to combine them into a final “stacked” image using some specialized stacking software. In my earlier description of the landscape focus stacking, I outlined the stacking process that these software packages execute. The software will perform these steps in a defined, concise, reproducible and automated manner, as it employs its mathematical magic, but the steps employed are essentially, what I have described. 

Stacking – Specialized Applications

There are many Focus Stacking software applications available, but here I will mention what I believe to be the three most popular packages. 

First, Adobe Photoshop CC ( has an effective built-in focus stacking capability. Here I am referring to the Photoshop CC application and not its cousins, Photoshop Elements or Lightroom. In Lightroom, you will find a “stacking” capability, but this refers to an organizational function, which collects images to a single location, and not the processing functionality under consideration here. 

I often recommend that first-time macro enthusiasts start with the Photoshop stacking function since in many cases they have an Adobe subscription, and therefore already have access to Photoshop (whether they use it or not). Why buy additional software until you decide that you really need it? The Photoshop stacking function is not overly complex, works quite well for landscape applications, and is acceptable (but not exceptional) for macro applications.

A second application I use is Zerene Stacker by Zerene Systems ( This dedicated stacking application is quite advanced and easy to use although its interface is not as slick as many other applications. This application has the option of employing several different algorithms to determine what areas of an image are sharp. These algorithms (the mathematical magic that is the heart of the process) allows one to try several different methods to identify and collect the sharp areas within our focus slices. It is not uncommon for one algorithm to be effective on some parts of an image while an alternate algorithm to be more effective on other parts of the same image. As a result, this application also has a “retouching” capability that allow one to create different stacks (using different algorithms) and then to combine the best areas of each into a final image.

A third application is Helicon Focus by HeliconSoft ( This advanced dedicated stacking application has a clean interface and provides several advanced detection algorithms. This application also supports a retouching capability, but I find that it is a bit buggy, and I often run into issues when I try to combine the best parts of different stacks.

In comparing these applications, the Photoshop stacking process only employs one algorithm, and any subsequent editing can be difficult and complex. The results can be acceptable but are often not as good as, what you obtain with the dedicated stacking programs. I find that, the results from the Zerene Stacker and Helicon Focus applications are equivalent. Deep stacking enthusiasts may claim technical supremacy of one application over another, but in my hands, both do a great job. Helicon Focus performs its operations faster and supports JPEG, TIFF and RAW files. Zerene Stacker is a bit slower and only supports JPEG and TIFF files. However, Zerene Stacker has been around for longer and is far less buggy, especially in the retouching steps that I consistently employ. The Professional version of these applications cost roughly the same, in the $ 190 – 200 dollar range.

Stacking – A Workflow Example

Below, I summarize my personal workflow demonstrating how these applications are applied. I do not claim that this workflow represents the very best process, but rather I offer it to provide a flavor as to how these applications are used.

  1. First, I download the slice images from my camera to my computer, and move each set of focus slices into their own folder. This is where the trick of shooting my hand before and after each stack pays dividends. By the way, the “hand shots” are discarded.

I generate RAW plus JPEG files for each slice image and move all of them into their own folder. When I review the files in the subsequent steps, I review the JPEG files in a generic viewer.

Alternatively, we could also use software with a cataloging function (such as Lightroom) to collect our files and to view the RAW visions directly (assuming the application has the appropriate RAW image viewer), alleviating the need for the JPEG files.

All subsequent steps are performed on the files within each folder.

  1. Next, I review each slice file to ensure that each image is clean and that each file has at least some sharp part of the subject field. Occasionally we get an image that is only partially captured, contains part of the shutter curtain or has some other obstruction (such as a finger). We need to identify and remove these images before we perform the stacking process, as these files will skew and ruin the stacking process. This is also when I remove those extra files that I may have collected at the start and end of each slice collection. I should note though that I have observed little detriment to retaining files with no detail, as the stacking programs tend to ignore these files. 
  2. Next, I open all of the RAW files in Adobe Camera RAW (ACR is equivalent to the Lightroom Develop Module). The open files are represented in the filmstrip mode in ACR. I select one of the open files and perform an initial pass of global editing. I focus upon editing the exposure and sharpness. My goal is to ensure that all the detail is visible in the highlighted and shadowed regions of the image. This is only a first pass in the editing process, and I will perform more detailed and comprehensive editing later on with the final stacked image. I do not do any cropping, straightening or other file manipulation at this point.

Once this is done, I select all of the open files and apply the edits to all of the images (using the “Sync” or Synchronize tool) and save the images as TIFF files.

All of these steps can be performed in Lightroom or in other editing applications as well.

Note that it takes nearly as much time to edit five files as it does to edit fifty files so there is little time/effort penalty in collecting more slice files.

  1. Now my files are ready for the stacking process. I open the stacking software, select the appropriate TIFF files and generate a stacked image using one of the algorithm options. This process is not instantaneous and can take some time depending upon the application used, file type selected and the computing power of your computer. Generally, it is in the range of one to three minutes per stack although ‘your results may vary’.
Figure 8:Am example of localized blurring (These images were stacked using two different algorithms)
Figure 8: Am example of localized blurring (These images were stacked using two different algorithms)

The stacking applications will also operate on JPEG files and Helicon Focus will also use RAW files, but both applications use the TIFF files and seem to work fastest with these file types.

I often will generate several stacked images using different algorithms within a stacking session. I then compare magnified versions of these stacks, side-by-side to determine which stack looks best in different regions throughout the image. This viewing mode is facilitated within the retouching mode of the stacking applications. Here I am looking for localized blurred regions at feature edges (figure 8) or “light blooms”, which sometimes appear at the tips of some of the brighter features (figure 9). Often one version of the stack has some of these issues while other versions do not, and this is where I use the retouching feature to consolidate the best features from each stack.  I find that it is hard to predict which algorithm will work best with any one image, so I take the time to apply several algorithms and empirically establish which might be most effective throughout the image.

Figure 9:An example of a “light bloom”, which sometime appear at the tips of some of the brighter features These images were stacked using two different algorithms.
Figure 9: An example of a “light bloom”, which sometimes appear at the tips of some of the brighter features These images were stacked using two different algorithms.

Once the retouching is complete, the final stacked image is saved as a TIFF file.

  1. Finally, the individual slice TIFF files are deleted. These are very large files and we do not need to save them. If we need to re-perform the stacking process, we can easily regenerate the TIFF files from the edited and saved RAW files. I also go back-and-forth, as to whether I need to retain the RAW slice files, and generally, I do. However, it is a rare event when I do go back and re-use these files, so the jury is still out as to the wisdom of retaining these files.

Focus Stacking – Finishing the Image

Now that we have generated the stacked image, we should be nearly done. RIGHT?

Well, unfortunately, this is generally not the case. It is very common to follow-up a stacking session with an extensive editing session.

Focus stacking is a cumulative process, which combines several images to expand our apparent depth of field. However, there is a cost to employing this process and we need to deal with several of the unintended consequences that accompany our efforts.

“There is no Free Lunch”

Finishing the Image – Dust, Specular Highlights and Other “Stuff”

In identifying the image detail, the mathematical algorithms tend to amplify detail, including dust particles, hairs, specular highlights, and other bits and pieces of “stuff” that just were not visible to our eye when we collected the images. In the stacked image these elements magically appear, often despite all of our efforts to clean up the stage.

Stacked Macro Image of Beads (Before editing, note the dust, specular highlights and other “stuff” emphasized by the stacking process)

In the bead images (figures 10a and 10b), I present the actual stacked images before and after editing to demonstrate this issue. I have no idea where the dust and hairs came from, as I certainly did not see them as I collected the slice images, but there they are. In a second example, I show an image of salt crystals (figures 11a and 11b) where dust and/or crystal fragments are amplified in the stacking process and take center stage in the stacked image. These examples are not atypical of the stacked images routinely obtained.


Therefore, we need to take the time to deal with this. I often invest an hour or more in applying the cloning and healing tools within Photoshop to remove these distractions from the stacked image. 

Finishing the Image – Weird Backgrounds

The stacking algorithms have been optimized to find and latch-on to sharp edges and detail. However, what happens when there is no detail for the algorithms to work on? In these cases, the software can “freak out” (my less than technical term) and inserts its own detail in these regions resulting in “weird-looking” backgrounds. This is common as we strive not to include a lot of detail in our background, and are willing to let these regions ‘go soft’, so there may not be a lot of detail here for the algorithms to work on.  An example of this is presented in the image of a clover bloom (figures 12a and 12b). The weird background swirls and shapes are stacking artifacts that need to be dealt with.


In such cases, I will isolate the background from the subject using Photoshop selections, layers and masks.  Here I clone out the obvious artifacts from the isolated background layer. Additionally I will often blur, darken and desaturate the isolated background to minimize any background distractions. 

However, in this example, note the amount of intricate detail associated with the hair-like elements on the stem and leaves. These elements were critical and represent a major part of the image’s “wow factor.” Therefore, in isolating the background, my Photoshop selections and masks need to include these detailed structures. While the automated Photoshop selection tools have improved considerably, they often fail to capture all of this relevant detail. Therefore, often I will resort to manually painting-in these elements in my masks and selections. Although this takes a lot of time and effort, it is not difficult and is the “cost of doing business” required to achieve my image vision.

Finishing the Image – Complex and Distracting Backgrounds

In this type of photography, our subject field is often quite small and it may be difficult or impossible to compose the subjects such that we minimize or eliminate distracting backgrounds. Additionally as the image’s detail emerges in the stacking process, distracting background detail can often creep into the image. Here we again may need to isolate the background from the subject field and to minimize or eliminate these distractions. The flower image (figures 13a and 13b) demonstrates where I have simplified the presentation by cloning out much of the background distraction.

Finishing the Image – Restoring a “Sense of Depth”

One of the unintended consequences of the stacking process is that our stacked images can appear flat. As the background becomes as sharp as the subject, we begin to lose a sense of depth within our image. 

We deal with this issue in our normal photography when we select an aperture setting, which allows the differential blurring of the background. However, in our stacked images we sacrifice this trait in our effort to improve our apparent depth of field. The good news is that the subject is clear and in focus, but the bad news is that so is everything else. Therefore, we need to add back a feeling of depth within our image. 

In my work, I take the time to isolate my background from the subject field in Photoshop and I often blur, darken and desaturate the isolated background. With these efforts I strive to add back the effect we normally observe with larger apertures but sacrifice in the stacking process. I may also differentially darken different elements within the image to simulate the falloff of light as we recede into the image. Far features are darkened a bit more than nearer features, resulting in a greater sense of depth. This final point is demonstrated in the flower image (figures 14a and 14b). 

Final Thoughts

Focus Stacking is an effective tool for expanding the apparent depth of field within our macro images. However, this technique is far more than just using specialized software. Thought and planning is required as we collect the raw data. Additionally, more image editing and effort is required to deal with some of the unintended consequences that accompany the stacking efforts.  However, the results often yield stunning images that would be impossible to capture without the utilization of this technique.

As noted, here this is not a quick process, and the many steps take time. So, get comfortable, take your time and enjoy the process. My best images emerge when I slow down and allow my creative juices to flow as I execute the process. Have fun, embrace the process, and happy shooting.

About the Author:

Charlie Ginsburgh is the 65 plus retired Biochemist, Photographer and Artist, living in the San Francisco Bay area of Northern California. When asked to describe his photographic style or bent, Charlie will answer, “I love capturing the commonplace in uncommon ways, and my macro photography is a wonderful way to accomplish this”. Charlie provides photographic training and commentary to many of the Bay Area camera clubs, moderates a PSA Close-up and Macro Photography study section, and has judged in many Camera Club and PSA sponsored photographic competitions. Examples of his work many be viewed at his website:




Charlie Ginsburgh
March 2020
Charles Ginsburgh
San Mateo, CA

Charlie Ginsburgh is the 65 plus retired Biochemist, Photographer and Artist, living in the San Francisco Bay area of Northern California. When asked to describe his photographic style or bent, Charlie will answer, “I love capturing the commonplace in uncommon ways, and my macro photography is a wonderful way to accomplish this”. Charlie provides photographic training and commentary to many of the Bay Area camera clubs, moderates a PSA Close-up and Macro Photography study section, and has judged in many Camera Club and PSA sponsored photographic competitions. Examples of his work many be viewed at his website:

Article Type: Tutorials, Columns, MISC

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