Forums > Photography Talk > Photo stacking manually.

Photographer

Mad Hatter Imagery

Posts: 1604

Buffalo, New York, US

How do I stack photos manually without software special tools? Just layers and adjusting opacities? And if so what percentage make sense for different numbers of images?

Aug 10 22 06:02 pm Link

Photographer

Znude!

Posts: 3239

Baton Rouge, Louisiana, US

Perhaps you could cut and paste the parts of each image onto a blank file matching match lines perfectly. All the images would need to be taken on a tripod I would think. I sometimes need to combine large engineering drawings together to make one large one and I fit them using a match line usually drawn onto each drawing where it would join another drawing from the sequence. The scale needs to be the same and I think the resolution as well.

If you are using software which has the ability then you could just paste each different image on top of the other then erase the out of focus areas of respective layers.  You could then flatten the layers if desired. Just didn't know how basic the software you are using is. Changing the opacity of the layers might work but you can also change the opacity of the eraser tool.

There are several ways to do it depending on software.

The number of exposures would depend on a few factors, like the size of the subject if macro, the distance from camera plane to infinity if something like a landscape, the aperture used (use the same for each image capture), etc. A landscape with a wide angle lens set at f/8 in which you could focus midway in the subject would be pretty sharp all out but you could shoot maybe three shots and get it crisp from front to back. A macro of a bug at f/1.2 would be a different story and the focal length of the lens will be a factor.

Some cameras like the Nikon D850 will perform focus stacking automatically.

There are a few stand alone programs for stacking but not free.
http://www.zerenesystems.com/cms/home

Aug 10 22 06:34 pm Link

Photographer

Mad Hatter Imagery

Posts: 1604

Buffalo, New York, US

Yes, definitely using a tripod. But if I were combining images to reduce digital noise in final image or create a Harris shutter effect how is that done manually?

Aug 10 22 09:33 pm Link

Photographer

Motordrive Photography

Posts: 7036

Lodi, California, US

If you don't have stack modes, this is a good way to help minimize noise, provided you're on a
tripod and there is no movement in the shot, a breezy day in a field of flowers won't work.

With layers all in the same document and aligned, devide the layer number by 100,
that will be the opacity of the layer. The bottom, background layer will be 100% opacity,
layer 2 will be 50%, layer 3 will be 33% layer 4 will be 25% and so on.

Aug 10 22 11:29 pm Link

Photographer

Znude!

Posts: 3239

Baton Rouge, Louisiana, US

Mad Hatter Imagery wrote:
Yes, definitely using a tripod. But if I were combining images to reduce digital noise in final image or create a Harris shutter effect how is that done manually?

I didn't know what the Harris Shutter effect was but found this video. The last part of the video describes how to blend the layers to achieve the effect.

https://youtu.be/Us3PN_89wQE

Aug 11 22 11:00 am Link

Photographer

Mad Hatter Imagery

Posts: 1604

Buffalo, New York, US

Motordrive Photography wrote:
If you don't have stack modes, this is a good way to help minimize noise, provided you're on a
tripod and there is no movement in the shot, a breezy day in a field of flowers won't work.

With layers all in the same document and aligned, devide the layer number by 100,
that will be the opacity of the layer. The bottom, background layer will be 100% opacity,
layer 2 will be 50%, layer 3 will be 33% layer 4 will be 25% and so on.

So just keep adding 1 to denominator? This is what auto modes do?

Aug 11 22 12:52 pm Link

Photographer

Mad Hatter Imagery

Posts: 1604

Buffalo, New York, US

Znude! wrote:

I didn't know what the Harris Shutter effect was but found this video. The last part of the video describes how to blend the layers to achieve the effect.

https://youtu.be/Us3PN_89wQE

She used an auto feature. I don't have that.

Aug 11 22 12:55 pm Link

Photographer

Znude!

Posts: 3239

Baton Rouge, Louisiana, US

Mad Hatter Imagery wrote:

She used an auto feature. I don't have that.

I wasn't pointing out the camera / capture method so much as the software procedure in the later part of the video. Of course I don't know what software you have so that may be of no help either.

Aug 11 22 05:28 pm Link

Photographer

The Other Place

Posts: 400

Los Angeles, California, US

Mad Hatter Imagery wrote:
She used an auto feature. I don't have that.

Blending for the Harris shutter effect is easier than blending for noise reduction, sharpness or HDR.

Here is one simple way blend three RGB images for the Harris Shutter effect in Photoshop.

There are similar ways to do the same thing in GIMP and in other image editing software.  Using the Decompose and then Recompose filters might be the easiest way, but there are a few options in using the native GIMP functionality (without plug-ins).

Aug 12 22 04:40 pm Link

Clothing Designer

veypurr

Posts: 434

Albuquerque, New Mexico, US

Mad Hatter Imagery wrote:
How do I stack photos manually without software special tools? Just layers and adjusting opacities? And if so what percentage make sense for different numbers of images?

It's illegal to photostack manually, don't do it.

Aug 13 22 04:38 pm Link

Clothing Designer

veypurr

Posts: 434

Albuquerque, New Mexico, US

Aug 13 22 04:39 pm Link

Photographer

Mad Hatter Imagery

Posts: 1604

Buffalo, New York, US

veypurr wrote:

It's illegal to photostack manually, don't do it.

What are you talking about?

Aug 13 22 06:44 pm Link

Photographer

The Other Place

Posts: 400

Los Angeles, California, US

Whoooosh!

Aug 13 22 09:08 pm Link

Photographer

Mad Hatter Imagery

Posts: 1604

Buffalo, New York, US

Motordrive Photography wrote:
If you don't have stack modes, this is a good way to help minimize noise, provided you're on a
tripod and there is no movement in the shot, a breezy day in a field of flowers won't work.

With layers all in the same document and aligned, devide the layer number by 100,
that will be the opacity of the layer. The bottom, background layer will be 100% opacity,
layer 2 will be 50%, layer 3 will be 33% layer 4 will be 25% and so on.

I have had success with this method but the final image is roughly half the brightness of any of the originals. What might I have done wrong?

Aug 22 22 03:52 pm Link

Photographer

j_francis_imagery

Posts: 304

Los Angeles, California, US

Mad Hatter Imagery wrote:
I have had success with this method but the final image is roughly half the brightness of any of the originals. What might I have done wrong?

The lowest layer is 100%

The one above it is 1/2 or 50%. That averages the two.

The next layer above is 1/3 or 33%. That makes it 1/3 of the 3 total layers there would then be.

The next layer above would be 1/4 or 25%. That would make it 1/4 of the 4 total layers there now would be.

And so on…

It might make sense to convert to 16 bits before beginning any of this, because 255 divided by 10 is already only about 26, so 8 bits doesn’t go very far.

Aug 22 22 05:44 pm Link

Photographer

j_francis_imagery

Posts: 304

Los Angeles, California, US

If you prefer, you can work with 8 or 16 or 32 images (or some power of 2) and put a 50% over a 100% in pairs of pairs of pairs…

Maybe merge each pair as you go along. Again I recommend maybe working in 16 bits even if the originals start out as only, say, 8 bits.

Aug 22 22 05:51 pm Link

Photographer

Mad Hatter Imagery

Posts: 1604

Buffalo, New York, US

j_francis_imagery wrote:
If you prefer, you can work with 8 or 16 or 32 images (or some power of 2) and put a 50% over a 100% in pairs of pairs of pairs…

Maybe merge each pair as you go along. Again I recommend maybe working in 16 bits even if the originals start out as only, say, 8 bits.

I used the recommended opacities and recently did the math proving that each layer would have equal representation, but still the final image is darker. I am not sure if I used the channel tool correctly. There is a drop down menu for red, green, blue, and slide bars also for red, green, and blue which range from -200% to 200%. I choose the color I am turning up in drop down menu and bring it to 100% and the others to 0%. Wasn't sure what other options it is offering.

Aug 22 22 09:02 pm Link

Photographer

The Other Place

Posts: 400

Los Angeles, California, US

Mad Hatter Imagery wrote:
There is a drop down menu for red, green, blue, and slide bars also for red, green, and blue which range from -200% to 200%. I choose the color I am turning up in drop down menu and bring it to 100% and the others to 0%.

So, you are trying to combine separate red, green and blue layers, after all.

What software are you using?

Aug 22 22 11:54 pm Link

Photographer

Mad Hatter Imagery

Posts: 1604

Buffalo, New York, US

The Other Place wrote:

So, you are trying to combine separate red, green and blue layers, after all.

What software are you using?

Corel Paint Shop Pro

Aug 23 22 10:18 pm Link

Photographer

The Other Place

Posts: 400

Los Angeles, California, US

Mad Hatter Imagery wrote:
Corel Paint Shop Pro

To do the Harris Shutter effect (or to combine three different images as RGB  channels), first take three color images, lets say Image A, Image B and Image C, and split each of them into their separate RGB channels as described here (use the "Split to RGB" function).

Then, copy and paste a channel (say, the red channel) from Image A into the corresponding channel (red) of Image C.

Then, copy and paste a different channel (say, the green channel) from Image B into the corresponding channel (green) of Image C.

Then, combine the three color channels of Image C as described in the above link (use the "Combine from RGB" function).

I am not sure how Paint Shop Pro works, but you might want to save the resulting image under a new name, so that you don't inadvertently delete the original Image C.

In the future, please be more forthcoming with the details on what you have to work with and what you are trying to do.

Aug 24 22 09:32 am Link

Photographer

Mad Hatter Imagery

Posts: 1604

Buffalo, New York, US

The Other Place wrote:

To do the Harris Shutter effect (or to combine three different images as RGB  channels), first take three color images, lets say Image A, Image B and Image C, and split each of them into their separate RGB channels as described here (use the "Split to RGB" function).

Then, copy and paste a channel (say, the red channel) from Image A into the corresponding channel (red) of Image C.

Then, copy and paste a different channel (say, the green channel) from Image B into the corresponding channel (green) of Image C.

Then, combine the three color channels of Image C as described in the above link (use the "Combine from RGB" function).

I am not sure how Paint Shop Pro works, but you might want to save the resulting image under a new name, so that you don't inadvertently delete the original Image C.

In the future, please be more forthcoming with the details on what you have to work with and what you are trying to do.

That seems to split a single image into grey scale images of the red green and blue channels but I need at least 3 images with only 1 channel up all the way. I colorized these channel images and stacked them and it looked completely wrong. And just using channel mixer tool created better results and even seemed to make it possible to use 9 colors instead of just 3. Just so long as each channel adds up at the end. Any advice for using the mixer to keep the final image from being darker than the originals?

Aug 28 22 01:23 pm Link

Photographer

The Other Place

Posts: 400

Los Angeles, California, US

Mad Hatter Imagery wrote:
That seems to split a single image into grey scale images of the red green and blue channels

Yes.  That is what it is supposed to do.


Mad Hatter Imagery wrote:
but I need at least 3 images with only 1 channel up all the way.

Those "grey scale" images are already "1 channel up all the way" -- each one is the full red, green or blue channel.


Mad Hatter Imagery wrote:
I colorized these channel images and stacked them and it looked completely wrong.

Huh?  Why did you do that?

You do not have to modify those black & white images in any way.

All you have to do is swap out two of the channels with the corresponding channel of two other images and then use the "Combine from RGB" function as described in the linked page above.  The result should be a perfect, full color image with color differences appearing where the subject moved.

Don't "stack" the images nor try to add color to them.


Mad Hatter Imagery wrote:
And just using channel mixer tool created better results and even seemed to make it possible to use 9 colors instead of just 3.

Before judging the results, please precisely follow the instructions that I gave above.

If you want to combine more colors (channels?), you could additionally use the "Split to CMYK" and "Combine from CMYK" functions, and then stack the RGB and CMYK images.

If you want more colors than that, then try stacking extra colorized layers.


Mad Hatter Imagery wrote:
Just so long as each channel adds up at the end. Any advice for using the mixer to keep the final image from being darker than the originals?

Using the "Split to RGB" and "Combine from RGB" functions should produce a perfect final image (provided that your camera didn't move between shots).

If you want to stack layers but the final image looks dark, lower the opacity of the layers.

Aug 28 22 01:56 pm Link

Photographer

Mad Hatter Imagery

Posts: 1604

Buffalo, New York, US

Ok, I will try the linked method, but if I do stack 3 or more images is there a decrease in opacity I should do based on the number of images used? Like 100%, 50%, and 33% for the layers, then reduce that image opacity down to 50%?

I found using the mixer I was able to increase red in all channels for one image, and likewise with the other three. This made still scenes B&W and motion in color. Very cool effect.

Aug 28 22 04:06 pm Link

Photographer

Mad Hatter Imagery

Posts: 1604

Buffalo, New York, US

The auto split and combine tools did create a sharper image with seemingly correct brightness. Do you know how that tool works? I'd like to do it manually so I can experiment more.

Aug 29 22 04:41 pm Link

Photographer

The Other Place

Posts: 400

Los Angeles, California, US

Mad Hatter Imagery wrote:
Do you know how that tool works?

The tool just separates or combines color channels.

Color channels are not "stacked layers."  The easiest way to envision how the color channels mix is to think of the color channels as inter-meshed/interlaced with each other.  The red, green and blue pixels are adjacent to each other -- not on top of each other.


Mad Hatter Imagery wrote:
I'd like to do it manually so I can experiment more.

You can separately adjust the black & white images of each color channel.  For instance, you could change the contrast of the blue channel, boost the exposure of the red channel, and paint/clone/heal on the green channel.  Just keep each channel as a black & white image.

Aug 30 22 12:22 am Link

Photographer

j_francis_imagery

Posts: 304

Los Angeles, California, US

Mad Hatter Imagery wrote:

I used the recommended opacities and recently did the math proving that each layer would have equal representation, but still the final image is darker. I am not sure if I used the channel tool correctly. There is a drop down menu for red, green, blue, and slide bars also for red, green, and blue which range from -200% to 200%. I choose the color I am turning up in drop down menu and bring it to 100% and the others to 0%. Wasn't sure what other options it is offering.

You just change the opacities of each layer in normal blend mode. No channel tools involved. Not sure I follow what you are doing.

Aug 30 22 09:43 am Link

Photographer

The Other Place

Posts: 400

Los Angeles, California, US

j_francis_imagery wrote:
Not sure I follow what you are doing.

Essentially, he is attempting the Harris Shutter effect, but possibly using more colors than just RGB (or CMYK)  He is using Paint Shop Pro.

The cleanest way to do that is to simply combine the color channels from the different images (instead of stacking), but extra colors might require at least one stacked layer.

Aug 30 22 11:01 am Link

Photographer

j_francis_imagery

Posts: 304

Los Angeles, California, US

The Other Place wrote:
Essentially, he is attempting the Harris Shutter effect, but possibly using more colors than just RGB (or CMYK)  He is using Paint Shop Pro.

The cleanest way to do that is to simply combine the color channels from the different images (instead of stacking), but extra colors might require at least one stacked layer.

If you multiply an image by a pure red image in any app you’ll essentially get the red channel.

I’d suggest

(Image1 * pure red image) + (image2 * pure green image) + (image3 * pure blue image)

Where * is the multiply blend mode, and + is the screen blend mode or the add or linear dodge blend mode. When images are filtered either red or green or blue then the screen and add blend modes act identically. All of this is at opacity 100%. No 1/3 or 1/2 involved.

The previous methods produce an average. Not a sum. If you average a red-filtered image with a green-filtered image with a blue-filtered image you will get a darker result than you need. You want to add all three at 100%

The benefit of this approach is it uses only blend modes and layers of pure primaries and it’s the same workflow in a wide range of apps. It’s portable.

This is basically trichrome or trichromatic photography except you are doing the color filtering in post except in camera.  Early color photographers used to get this effect by accident on moving water or windy tree branches.

If you use more than 3 images and more colors than just pure RGB you’ll end up with a brighter or less saturated result than you probably want.

Aug 30 22 01:26 pm Link

Photographer

Mad Hatter Imagery

Posts: 1604

Buffalo, New York, US

Using the Channel Mixer method I was able to make an image that was completely black & white except for where there was motion. I am hoping the split and combine method allows that.

Aug 30 22 04:14 pm Link

Photographer

Mad Hatter Imagery

Posts: 1604

Buffalo, New York, US

If color channels are basically adjacent colors versus layers that average each pixel how is it represented differently? The image dimensions don't change to accommodate colors that must remain spacially separate?

Aug 30 22 08:58 pm Link

Photographer

The Other Place

Posts: 400

Los Angeles, California, US

j_francis_imagery wrote:
If you multiply an image by a pure red image in any app you’ll essentially get the red channel.

I would think that multiplying an RGB image by single colors gives a different result than merely recombining the color channels.  In your scenario, the blue and green pixels are also being multiplied by red -- not so in just recombining color channels.     ***(I am apparently incorrect -- see edit below.)


j_francis_imagery wrote:
I’d suggest
(Image1 * pure red image) + (image2 * pure green image) + (image3 * pure blue image)
Where * is the multiply blend mode, and + is the screen blend mode or the add or linear dodge blend mode. When images are filtered either red or green or blue then the screen and add blend modes act identically. All of this is at opacity 100%. No 1/3 or 1/2 involved.

That probably won't be as clean as simply combining the color channels.     ***(I am apparently incorrect -- see edit below.)


j_francis_imagery wrote:
The previous methods produce an average. Not a sum.

Combining the color channels is not an average.  It's a lot like a sum, but there is a tiny spatial variable.


j_francis_imagery wrote:
If you average a red-filtered image with a green-filtered image with a blue-filtered image you will get a darker result than you need.

I think that depends on how bright one makes the layers, but getting it right would probably take a lot of experimentation.


j_francis_imagery wrote:
You want to add all three at 100%

... which is similar to what happens when one combines the color channels, except with there is no intermixing nor "intermultiplying" of  each color channel with the other channels.       ***(I am apparently incorrect -- see edit below.)


j_francis_imagery wrote:
The benefit of this approach is it uses only blend modes and layers of pure primaries and it’s the same workflow in a wide range of apps. It’s portable.

Most photo editing programs have at least one method of separating and combining color channels, so that method is also "portable."

j_francis_imagery wrote:
This is basically trichrome or trichromatic photography except you are doing the color filtering in post except in camera.  Early color photographers used to get this effect by accident on moving water or windy tree branches.

Yep.

j_francis_imagery wrote:
If you use more than 3 images and more colors than just pure RGB you’ll end up with a brighter or less saturated result than you probably want.

Again, results mostly depend on the method.  Combining color channels doesn't sacrifice anything in regards to the image.  So, as I mentioned above, if one wants more than three colors, one could combine RGB and get a perfect image, then one could combine CMY(K) and get a perfect image.  Then all one has to do is to combine those two, clean images.


Mad Hatter Imagery wrote:
If color channels are basically adjacent colors versus layers that average each pixel how is it represented differently?

Combining color channels does not intermix the red, green and blue pixels/values like most of the stacking methods mentioned in this thread.       ***(I might be incorrect about some of the other methods -- see edit below.)


Mad Hatter Imagery wrote:
The image dimensions don't change to accommodate colors that must remain spacially separate?

If I correctly understand your question, the answer is "yes," which is why combining color channels does not intermix the colors while stacking does intermix colors.


***EDIT:
I tried @j_francis_imagery's suggested method of multiplying the full color image by a separate layer of 100% of each digital primary (red, green, blue) and then adding each resulting image, and the result matched perfectly to the original image.  There was now channel/pixel intermixing.

The process is a little involved, and I will explain it further.

I made a 100% digital red layer (just a layer of 100% red with no image), and I set the layer mode mode to "Multiply."  Then, I made two more layers the same way -- one layer 100% digital green and the other layer digital blue, each with the layer mode set to "Multiply."

Then, I made visible just the red layer and the original, full color image (which was in a layer underneath the red layer).  I then created a new layer from those two visible layer and labeled the new layer red.  This created a layer that looks like the red channel values with a 100%  digital red tint.

I repeated the same step with the remaining green and blue colored layers.

So, now I had an additional three layers of the image, each tinted (and labeled) red, green and blue.

Then, I made visible just these three new tinted layers.

Finally, I changed the mode on the top two tinted layers to "Addition," and a perfect match to the original, full color image appeared.  I checked the match down to the pixel level.

The color separation/combine method seems simpler, but it is helpful to know that this method also works, and it was also interesting to see how the "Multiply" mode functions on a pixel level.

I can see how both this method and the color separation/combine method could work for standard digital RGB and standard digital CMYK color schemes.  However, I am not sure how such a perfect color/brightness match could be achieved if one ventures outside of those two standard color schemes.

Sep 05 22 02:50 pm Link

Photographer

Mad Hatter Imagery

Posts: 1604

Buffalo, New York, US

The Other Place wrote:
I can see how both this method and the color separation/combine method could work for standard digital RGB and standard digital CMYK color schemes.  However, I am not sure how such a perfect color/brightness match could be achieved if one ventures outside of those two standard color schemes.

It is reassuring that there are other ways to get same effect. What are these "multiply" and "addition" function? Is that a common layer function outside of Photoshop?

Sep 05 22 09:03 pm Link

Photographer

The Other Place

Posts: 400

Los Angeles, California, US

Mad Hatter Imagery wrote:
It is reassuring that there are other ways to get same effect. What are these "multiply" and "addition" function? Is that a common layer function outside of Photoshop?

"Multiply" and "Addition" are common layer (and brush) blending modes.  They are also known as layer merging modes.

Paintshop Pro has layer blending modes, but, incredibly, it appears to lack the fundamental "Addition" mode.  So, you might be SOL with Paintshop Pro in regards to using @j_francis_imagery's suggested method.

Evidently, the color separation/combine method is more "portable."

By the way, to run my test of @j_francis_imagery's method, I used the layer blending modes in GIMP.  It's free, open source and powerful.

Sep 05 22 10:08 pm Link

Photographer

j_francis_imagery

Posts: 304

Los Angeles, California, US

To combine RGB you want to use add or screen
(add and screen are the same as long as the layers are R G B channels)

To combine CMY you want to use multiply

So I’d be curious to see how you combine the two. 50% opacity of one set over the other?

Sep 05 22 11:05 pm Link

Photographer

j_francis_imagery

Posts: 304

Los Angeles, California, US

Here is a short video I made that shows RGB and CMY color combining using blend modes:

https://www.tiktok.com/@digitalartform/ … 6473730351

Sep 05 22 11:43 pm Link

Photographer

Mad Hatter Imagery

Posts: 1604

Buffalo, New York, US

j_francis_imagery wrote:
To combine RGB you want to use add or screen
(add and screen are the same as long as the layers are R G B channels)

To combine CMY you want to use multiply

So I’d be curious to see how you combine the two. 50% opacity of one set over the other?

I split and recombined CMYK and it looked similar in color to RGB. Just less rich or detailed. Not sure what it does.

Sep 07 22 05:19 pm Link

Photographer

j_francis_imagery

Posts: 304

Los Angeles, California, US

j_francis_imagery wrote:
Here is a short video I made that shows RGB and CMY color combining using blend modes:

https://www.tiktok.com/@digitalartform/ … 6473730351

Perfect CMY reconstruction

Sep 07 22 10:56 pm Link

Photographer

Mad Hatter Imagery

Posts: 1604

Buffalo, New York, US

I put together a PDF of the methods I've tried minus attempts to use more than 5 colors. Anyone want to see provided I can post it up somewhere?

Sep 14 22 05:14 pm Link

Photographer

j_francis_imagery

Posts: 304

Los Angeles, California, US

Mad Hatter Imagery wrote:
Anyone want to see provided I can post it up somewhere?

I would

Sep 15 22 11:14 pm Link

Photographer

Mad Hatter Imagery

Posts: 1604

Buffalo, New York, US

j_francis_imagery wrote:

I would

I will try setting up a dropbox.

Sep 16 22 09:05 pm Link