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I've recently taken up photography with using a Canon 50D and thought I'd try some macro photography of flowers. Having researched the subject and read about focus stacking to increase the depth of view I've just taken a few sets of images and performed focus stacking in Photoshop CS5. The flowers have generally come out nice and sharp, however the backgrounds are all blotchy with different parts of the background being taken from different images. In all the tutorials I've seen for focus stacking none have had this problem. I know the linear changes towards the edges are due the the alignment process and will be croped

What am I doing wrong? Is there anything that can be done in Photoshop to correct the problem?

enter image description here

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Without seeing your layer masks I can't say for sure, but it looks like the auto-masking is combining out-of focus backgrounds. I recommend reading about layer masking; then, clean up the masking so that only one layer is used for the background.

This video is an overview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gIh4v4RPQ70

At around 2:54 in the video it shows the auto-generated masks. Almost all automated image combination tools require manual clean up.

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Is this the only image you tried this on? You generally can't always expect perfect results from the algorithm in PS. To fix the background you could simply use the clone stamp, or healing brush tools to go over the patchy areas quickly.

Side note: I don't really think you gain much by trying to focus stack in this scenario. Just stopping down your lens will probably have the effect you are going for by still keeping the background out of focus.

  • I took photo's of several different flowers and had the same problem with all of them when focus stacked in PS. – James Screech Aug 6 '16 at 11:52
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I have to agree with Sam, try using the clone stamp afterwards...

Also, you could try getting a coloured piece of card or cardboard or similar material and set it up behind the subject, i.e flower, then the background should be a solid colour if that's what you want.

From personal experience, the background usually is like that; the light reflects off leaves and whatnot, so, in my opinion, you should leave it like that, looks more natural.

The blotchyness is usual, especially if a slight breeze is blowing. I've had countless pictures (focus-stacked) ruined because of that.

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