We had a bit of a snow flurry out on the Palouse a couple days ago. I saw this as an opportunity to get some cool snow portraits and to experiment with a new technique I’d just learned, called the Brenizer Effect (also called the Brenizer Method).
In this technique, the subject holds very still while the photographer takes 20-30 images in a panoramic style. Typically the photographer places the subject close to the camera and opens up the aperture to produce a series of close-focused shots. The resulting images are then stitched together in Photoshop, producing a large, wide-angle shot with a very shallow depth of field, a shot similar to those produced by medium-format cameras.
Glyn Dewis does an awesome job of demonstrating this technique and gives a detailed explanation of how to process these images in Photoshop.
Here are a couple key things I learned when experimenting with this technique:
1. Stay steady while shooting
This technique relies on the perspective of the camera and distance from the subject remaining the same (or close to the same) for the duration of the shots. Get comfortable in your position before shooting the series to ensure your body doesn’t wobble or deviate from its position. Take a deep breath, relax, then shoot. The closer you are to stationary, the better the end result will be.
2. Shoot more images than you need
Images are cheap, so shoot enough to make sure you’ve adequately covered everything. I had a couple panoramics that didn’t merge completely because I didn’t have enough overlap between images. Make sure when taking your panorama that about 1/3 – 1/2 of your frame is comprised of your previous shot (Photoshop wants about a 40% overlap between images to merge properly).
3. Shoot your subject first
Do your subject a favor and photograph them first, then focus on getting the surrounding areas. This will allow them to relax a little and you won’t have to worry about them shifting half-way through the process.
4. Process low-res images first, then process the full-size photos
Glyn points this out in the video, but it’s worth re-iterating. Export low-res images initially so that you don’t spend a bunch of time processing and merging high-res photos only to discover that something went wrong. Photoshop processes smaller images much faster than large images, especially when it comes to merging large panoramas. So do yourself a favor and run the process on smaller photos first, and if everything looks good, then run your full-size images through.
Hope you have fun experimenting with this technique. The results can be truly astounding if you spend a little time learning how to do it. I’m definitely going to be incorporating this method into future shoots.
Check out this pinterest board that I put together to see some more photos that utilize the Brenizer Effect.