Mas­ter the Brenizer Method

Kirk Sch­warz shows you how to shoot and merge mul­ti­ple images into a stun­ning por­trait panorama.

Practical Photography (UK) - - October -

Shoot and merge mul­ti­ple images to cre­ate beau­ti­ful por­trait panora­mas.

ABOUT 10 YEARS AGO, Amer­i­can wed­ding pho­tog­ra­pher Ryan Brenizer pop­u­larised a fresh take on the hum­ble panorama – known as the ‘bokeh panorama’. Now coined the Brenizer Method, it’s a great way to use Pho­to­shop’s abil­ity to merge images and cre­ate an ul­tra-shal­low depth-of-field, just like you’d get from us­ing a large-for­mat film cam­era.

If you’ve ever shot with a 50mm f/1.8, you’ll know all too well how easy it is to turn the back­ground into a pleas­ing blur, due to the su­per wide f/1.8 max­i­mum aper­ture. Well, this tech­nique, which re­quires you to shoot a se­ries of images and stitch them to­gether, can give you a su­per shal­low depth-of-field, sim­i­lar to us­ing a hy­po­thet­i­cal aper­ture value of f/1!

Find a good lo­ca­tion

As is usu­ally the case, a good lo­ca­tion is key to shoot­ing a suc­cess­ful Brenizer im­age. Since you’re cre­at­ing an ul­tra­shal­low depth-offield, you’ll want to choose a lo­ca­tion that show­cases this. Ide­ally, you’ll have el­e­ments in the back and fore­ground to em­pha­sise the tran­si­tion­ing fo­cus. This could be as sim­ple as a for­est, or a bridge, us­ing the rails as lead-in lines, or even a re­flec­tion in a pool of wa­ter.

The shoot­ing and edit­ing have to be done in a par­tic­u­lar way so on the fol­low­ing pages we’ll show you pre­cisely how to do it from start to fin­ish. Then when you’re done, you can use depth-offield cal­cu­la­tors to work out your ef­fec­tive aper­ture. There’s a great one from Brett Maxwell at

So with­out fur­ther ado, dig out your cam­era, ask a friend or model to pose for you and have a go at mak­ing your own por­trait panora­mas.


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