Focus Stacking

I’ve been playing on-and-off with a NSI Macro Focusing Rail, for taking extended depth of field macro photographs.

The focus rail mounts between your tripod and the camera to allow very precise movements of the camera, with the focus locked. You move the focus plane across the object bing photographed, taking multiple images, each with a narrow slice of the object in focus, these are then stacked in software to provide a greater depth of field than you could manage otherwise.

Macro Focus Merge Setup
The macro rail setup with a D7000 camera and a Sigma 50mm f/1.8 macro lens.

I’ve mostly been using the macro rail for photographs of electronics projects and devices, it being winter there are not too many insects around to image. I did find an old dead hornet, it’s visible on the white pad in the image above, to practise insect imaging.

A very dead and dried out hornet
A dead hornet imaged with a series of photographs taken at 0.25mm steps and processed in Affinity Photo

I’m not sure how well this will work with live insects, I suspect they will move long before I get even a couple of images, but it’ll be worth a try. I’m quite pleased with how the dead hornet turned out, and I think I can do better still.

A better account of a comet

Another clear night saw me trying to capture the comet again. This time with a longer lens. The comet is getting higher in the sky, and today is the closest approach to Earth (so it might be a bit brighter).

Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) (Upper right) and the star Kochab (lower left)

Still no progress on getting my telescope mount back from the repair place, so I’m limited to what I can image with a 300mm lens and a DSLR on a non-tracking tripod.

“An imperfect account of a comet…”

to quote Caroline Herschel.

There’s a buzz in the media over the rare green comet that’s whizzing past us right now. It’s fuelled in part by the colour (almost certainly not visible to the eye (especially from light polluted regions)), and in part by spectacular images from big telescopes.

(Image credit: Michael Jaeger)

I like comets, and try to observe them where possible, my last few have been rather faint fuzz-balls only visible though my telescope.

Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF), to give it its proper name, is just about visible to the naked eye (though you won’t see the colour) in London. Monday evening, the comet was predicted to rise above the neighbouring houses by about 10pm, so I headed out to the garden with a tripod and my phone (my telescope is in for repair).

The result is rather underwhelming. I had to compare the photo with various prediction images and plate solved images to even guess at where the comet is. I’ve outlined the faint smudge I believe is the comet in the image.

(Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) (maybe))

I’ll try again as soon as we get a clear night.