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Tips & Tricks

6 Of The Most Common Brenizer Method Mistakes

By Shivani Reddy on November 5th 2016

The Brenizer Method, popularized by photographer Ryan Brenizer, is characterized by creating an image with a wide-angle of view in tandem with an extremely shallow depth of field. In our comprehensive course, we navigate you through the process of conceptualizing, executing, and post-producing wide aperture panoramic-stitch portraits.

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If executed improperly, the image can be distorted, poorly exposed, and unevenly stitched. Here are a couple of mistakes to avoid:

1. Using a Wide Angle Lens

Using wide angle lenses will not yield the desired effect because they are more likely to distort the edges of the image which will be problematic in post.

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A behind-the-scenes look from our Unscripted | Photo Shoot BTS series – taken at the Bonneville Salt Flats.

Longer focal lengths such as 85mm or even anywhere in the 70-200mm range will give you immense compression and prominent bokeh.

2. Using Auto-focus

Since we are panning across an image with our subject in a very shallow plane of focus, we want to always remember to keep our lenses in manual focus. This is why shooting on a tripod will yield the best results, because there is no room for error when it comes to focus adjustment once you’ve taken care of the stability of your camera body.

3. Using Closed Down Apertures

A closed down aperture is not going to yield the background blur needed to create the effect. Using prime lenses such as a 50mm that can exaggerate the effect even more by shooting wide open at f/1.2, 1.4, 1.8, are ideal. Lenses with a narrower depth of field such as f/2.8 or f/4.0 don’t give enough separation from the background unless they’re on the longer focal length range.

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The above image was shot with an Sigma 85mm f/1.4 lens and is a nine frame panoramic stitch. See how we accomplished it here!

4. Not enough Overlap between images

Unfortunately, creating a panoramic stitch on a DSLR isn’t as easy as manually panning your mobile device across a scene and having it automatically stitched together. You can see that when you use a phone to photograph a panorama, any change in movement results in a bit of a lighting difference because it was unable to stitch properly. Not overlapping enough between images using a DSLR will not give Lightroom/Photoshop enough detail to work with. About 1/3 of your image should overlap as you move from one shot to the next in order to provide just enough image to sample when stitching.

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As mentioned above, using a tripod is imperative for this specific reason, so that you can seamlessly pan and make sure you’ve got overlapping images. We recommend checking out the MeFoto Globetrotter.

*SLRL Premium members receive a discount on Mefoto gear –  upgrade now!

5. Not Having a Systematic Approach to Capturing

Use a systematic approach to capturing the full set of images. For example, start from the center, then move 3 to the left, then 3 to the right. Then center up again, move the camera up, capture the center shot, then 3 to the left, and 3 to the right. Then do the same thing for the bottom portion of the image. Approach the shot with a system so that you can ensure you have enough images to cover the entire scene.

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To a certain extent, some issues can be corrected in post-production after the images have been stitched, but getting it right in camera will prevent you hours of labor after the fact. In our full panoramic stitching courses we dive into post-production techniques that will help enhance your imagery to the fullest.

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6. Areas that Lack Detail Won’t Stitch Automatically

If your sky lacks detail, it won’t stitch properly. Make sure that the image has details that Lightroom/CaptureOne/Photoshop can reference easily. This starts by shooting at your lowest native ISO to preserve all dynamic range within the image. For example, if it’s a plain white cloudy day shoot more of the ground in the composition and make sure that any image with a lot of sky also has some ground in the shot so that Lightroom/Photoshop can reference it’s placement in the frame.

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When you are using flash in conjunction with the Brenizer method a whole slew of issues can occur that will likely alter the result of your stitch. To dive into the nitty gritty details of panoramic stitching using special lenses and lighting effects, stream our three  courses here!

Watch the trailer here:

Shivani wants to live in a world where laughter is the cure to pretty much everything. Since she can’t claim “Serial Bingewatcher” as an occupation, she’ll settle for wedding/portrait photographer at Lin and Jirsa & marketing coordinator here at SLR Lounge. For those rare moments when you won’t find a camera in her hand, she will be dancing, eating a donut, or most likely watching Seinfeld.

Follow her on Instagram: @shivalry_inc

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Gurmit Saini

    Hi great article and I need to try this technique, but I have very simple question after you have taken the shot with subject in focus at f1.4, do you still carry on with taking picture for the rest of the frames while keep on re-focusing every single shot?

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  2. Ralph Hightower

    I did a panorama using film. To me, it made sense to not use auto focus, well, I couldn’t since my Canon A-1 doesn’t support that.
    Using manual exposure made since with a fixed aperture and shutter speed so there would be not many corrections to make.
    Also, I used my Canon LensWork book to get the horizontal span of the FD 28mm and used an overlap on the tripod to get the panorama.

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  3. Chris Nigul

    I’ve use back-button focusing and then just click that shutter button in front. Works well!

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  4. Justin Haugen

    Great tips here Shivani!

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