Raspberry Pi used for focus stacking macro photography
Photography is becoming a passion of mine. Living with a wife and 2 kids, one of whom is almost 1 and the other one who is almost 5 and suffers autism is a full-time job in itself so photography is my way of escaping briefly. Some people meditate, some people do yoga, I photograph things!
So it seems right that I should make my first article here about photography.
Macro photography is commonly used for photographing close-ups of objects, it’s a technique I used extensively when photographing objects to be used in various designs. The advantage being that it gives you an incredible amount of detail, the downside being that anything that isn’t being focused on tends to become rather blurry. This wasn’t much a problem for me initially because I would usually photograph items on a white background that I could remove in editing but since I decided to focus on the far more lucrative business of photography, macro photography has been something I’ve tended to try to avoid doing.
I’m just starting out in photography so I haven’t learnt all the tips and tricks yet. I’ve avoided macro mostly because of this very problem. If, for instance, I wanted to take a photo of a bunch of roses using macro then I normally have to trade-off the advantage of having one rose that looks pin-sharp against the disadvantage of the others not looking so great. There is a way around this though called ‘photo-stacking’.
Photo-stacking is the process of taking many photographs of the same subject, gradually changing the focus on each shot and then using software to combine or ‘stack’ them to create one fully focused image. This however is a time-consuming process, not to mention incredibly difficult without some special equipment.
Here’s an example of a cow shot in Macro without any special equipment, next to it is the same cow shot with the Raspberry Pi powered Macro rail
As a general rule of thumb, ‘special equipment’ is a polite way of saying ‘expensive’ or ‘more than you could afford’ and the special equipment in question here is no exception. The special equipment needed to effective photo-stack consists of a rail that automatically moves the camera with each shot. The price? Consumer equipment can cost in the region of $600 (£380). Though when compared to prices of photography equipment in general this price could be classed as a drop in the ocean seeing as there are camera lenses out there that retail for thousands. But even so, you’d need to be pretty dedicated to the use of macro to justify such a price.
There is an alternative though. A guy called Dave Hunt, who describes himself as a software engineer who likes to spend his spare time doing photography and playing around with technology and gadgets, made use of a Raspberry Pi, an old flatbed scanner and some techy know-how and created his own Macro-rail, saving himself hundreds of £’s (or $’s) in the process and created a video (see below) to demonstrate the result.
Sure there’s easier ways of obtaining similar results with programs such as ‘gphoto2’…but where’s the fun in that?
Mr Hunt, the macro world applauds you.