A week or so ago, I was down by the Texas State capitol and tried to take a picture with several layers of stars in the architecture at a particular place. I didn’t have a lot of time as I was with people and I didn’t think the picture would come out with all of the stars in focus as there were some that were very close to the camera and some far away. It was also at sunset and the scene was brightly backlit by the western sky. The original picture is below.
As you can see, the stars in the distance are a bit blurry and the rail blocks some of them. I decided that I could do a better job of lining of the rails in foreground fence with the stars in the background. I also decided to give focus-stacking a try for the fun of it.
Sunday morning I went downtown and took photos in a few places and ended up back at the capitol after the sun was well up in the sky and at my back. I set about trying to frame my image so that as many stars as possible would be in the frame both through and above the decorative fence. I also set my focal length to 24mm to get as much of the architecture as possible in the shot. I took a series of four photos, focused on the large star in the foreground, the stars on the rail down below, the stars on the far wall, and the building in the background. Below is the focus stacked image.
The focus-stacking went well in photoshop and every thing is in focus in the final image. I used a tripod so there was no difficulty in aligning the images. The sun was in and out of the clouds while taking this, but the focus stacking seems to have evened that out. The architecture is much better lit in this photo by the sun in the eastern sky behind me.
Using a much shorter focal length did result in the stars in the more distant part of the structure being much smaller. I am not sure if the star-themed composition really reads well. Were the dark circular windows better lit, you would more clearly see the star designs on those as well.
I took another shot at the Texas flag waiving in the breeze over the capitol as well. I perhaps should have waited for that cloud to move out of the way. I had to shoot around some scaffolding just out of frame below.
Below is a photo I took a little earlier in the morning from the middle of Congress Avenue. Scarcely any traffic to deal with. It also gives you a nice idea of how randomly the traffic lights are timed in downtown Austin. The morning sun does look nice on the dome in the morning.
That’s it for this capitol themed photo blog. It is always nice to go shoot on an early Sunday morning downtown if I can get myself out of bed.
2 thoughts on “Focus Stacking Stars at the Capitol”
Useful description thanks. I guess that the tripod makes the process much easier?
I like the shot in the middle of the road. That might make an interesting point of view after dark?
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I don’t often go downtown in the evening as I don’t like trying to park my car. I may take the train on a Friday night and wander around sometime. I have been shooting a lot downtown lately.
The focus stacking is easy to do in software. It is kind of hassle to set it up and take the pictures, especially with the tiny screen on the back of the camera. I thought it would be a fun exercise.
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