Today the rebels are in deep Bantha-fodder as four Tie fighters approach The Millennium Falcon from it’s six in an “Imperial Assault…”



(Straight Out Of Camera)





Nikon D810
Nikon 105mm f/2.8
200 ISO

Diffused flash on both sides






  • Cropped
  • Raised contrast, shadows and whites
  • Lowered exposure, highlights and blacks
  • Raised clarity
  • Raised sharpening with masking
  • Lens corrections added
  • Raised the exposure on the X-Wings, which turned out too dark


Helicon Focus

119 photos stacked of this Micro-Machine Millennium Falcon that is about 2 inches deep


105 photos stacked of this Micro-machine X-Wing fighter, that is less then an inch wide


60 photos stacked


49 photos stacked



  • First layered the Falcon on a black background and masked out the inconsistent background
  • Cleaned up any dust that I should have blown off before the shoot


  • Added in a chasing Tie-Fighter for some interest…
    A Tie Fighter is about 9 meters wide, and the Millennium Falcon is closer to 40 meters…
    So I shrank it small to look like it was behind it, if I did it to scale, you probably couldn’t tell what it was


  • Added in another Tie to balance this out a bit..


  • I spent a lot of time getting more angles of the Tie Fighters, so I had to put in another tie. I shrank it even more so It looked like it was just joining the pursuit


  • Again, after taking hundreds of shots, and burning through 2 sets of batteries, I had to add the last fighter



  • The photo needed a background, so I stole this one from a galaxy a long time ago…


  • Then I thought there were too many stars, so I changed the levels to make the biggest ones pop.



Layered the stars in behind the models, but i thought that seemed boring…


So I tried making the stars look more like the vessels were in warp.

This didn’t work for many reasons…

  • Firstly the warp effect is B.S… If the stars moved that fast you would cross the galaxy in a week
  • All the ships would have to be going in the same direction to make it look real
  • Real stars are different colors, so unless I desaturated them, they looked weird


Final Thoughts

I have been meaning to work on my macro stacking, and this seemed like a good opportunity.


The entire scene took 300 photos to build, which will make Western Digital happy.


I have to build a macro-stacking Arduino rig to automate the process, as I lost interest after the first 20 photos.



The lighting is a bit harsh, especially on the Tie Fighters, but lighting in space is pretty relative to the closest stars from your position, so I am going to use that as my excuse for the result here.


Photoshop Vs Helicon Focus

Hows that for an SEO search phrase that will get this blog rocketed to the top of the macro-stacking world?


I tried to stack the Falcon in Photoshop after Helicon, just to remind myself of why I switched over. Like anything, it depends on the photo technique and the subject to get a good result.


Here is Photoshop’s result. Its close and the tones are matched better then in Helicon. Some details are missing that Helicon resolved better.


Side-By-Side Examples




Photoshop did a better job on the colors, but Helicon seems to have better AI when it comes to artifacts, which you are going to get as your camera moves its position.

With Photoshop you can go in and manually change the masking to fix issues, but with 100+ photos I am not doing that. I also did not change any settings in Helicon which could have resulted in a better result.


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