Here is a small collection of guides about basic techniques used to create the kinds of images found on this site. Rather than go into lots of technical detail, I wanted to keep things as simple, and accessible, as possible.

I’ve spent several years experimenting with different equipment that has been available to me at different times, giving a broad insight into the pros and cons of different methods, and I hope that this experience and knowledge will be useful to others.

The basics of stacking

When dealing with photography of small things (photomicroscopy, macro photography photomacroscopy etc) you will soon discover that as the subject gets smaller, the Depth of Focus (DoF) – the part of an photograph that is “in focus” or “acceptably sharp”, decreases rapidly. At the microscopic level, this DoF could be as small as a fraction of a millimeter!

When photographing specimens for reference purposes, having a photo where only a tiny part of the specimen is in focus, and the rest of the specimen is blurred, isn’t very useful, so this is where “stacking” comes in.

Stacking is a technique where a series of photographs are taken of a subject, where the focus is adjusted in each shot gradually. The series will start either at the “top” or the “bottom” of the subject, working its way to the other end. The photographer then either manually combines the in-focus parts of the photographs together, or uses a program to do this. The end product is an image which is sharp from top to bottom, providing a level of detail that isn’t possible to obtain from a single photograph.

Please see below for some guides on different programs and tools that can be used to “stack” photos to produce the kinds of images seen on this site.


Helicon Focus 

Helicon Focus User Guide

Helicon Focus User Guide

Helicon Remote – currently being written

Zerene Stacker 

Adobe Photoshop (Manual stacking) – currently being written