Horseshoe Bend, The Edge of Autumn

Horseshoe Bend near Page, Arizona.
Standing on the edge of the Horseshoe Bend overlook 1000 feet above the Colorado River is a rush. The river, meandering below,  reflects the deep blues of the sky above as the first rays of the morning sun paint the distant canyon wall in hues of gold and red. At my feet are the first signs of autumn.

Photographer’s technical notes:
In the past I would have used a small aperture value such as f/16 or f/22 to capture this scene with an extreme depth-of-field through-out the photo. The trade-off of using a small aperture is that while you gain a deeper focus you also lose clarity and sharpness due to what is known as diffraction. This loss of sharpness means that I wouldn’t be able to print as large as I would like.

To create this photo and  overcome the limitations of diffraction, I used a technique known as “focus stacking” to maintain the highest levels of clarity and sharpness through-out the scene. I photographed it at f/8, first focusing on the foreground followed by a series of successive photos, slowly moving my focus further into the scene with each image. In total I captured 11 image frames, which were then assembled in post-production to achieve the depth-of-field of photographing the scene at f/22, but while maintaining the high levels of sharpness of photographing each element of the scene at f/8. The end result is that I have incredible clarity, sharpness, and detail throughout the entire photo and can comfortably print this up to 5 or even 6 feet tall.

Title: The Edge of Autumn
Date: September 2014
Camera& Lens: Nikon D800E & Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED
Exposure: 11 exposures blended for depth-of-field. All at 1/20 second at f/8, ISO 100.



  1. david dick October 2, 2014 at 9:46 am

    Fabulous shot Adam. focus stacking is something is something I am going to have to learn. While we took a similar shot I se where the clarity is so improved over shooting at f16 as I did Great shot!!

    • Adam Schallau November 21, 2014 at 8:18 pm

      Thank you, David! The full-res file is truly impressive. Focus stacking won’t work for all situations, but it’s another great tool to have in the bag.

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