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Brenizer Method Portrait Using Lightroom And Photoshop – Weekly Edit Season 2 Episode 9

By Matthew Saville on May 9th 2014

UPDATE: We have released a full Panoramic Stitching (aka Brenizer Method) 3 part tutorial that teaches the shooting, post production. Watch the trailer below or view it in our store.

Original Article Below

Watch The Video Tutorial 

The Original Images

brenizer-method-tutorial-slr-lounge-6 brenizer-method-tutorial-slr-lounge-5 Nikon D700, Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200mm
1/250 sec. @ f/2.8 & ISO 800
RadioPopper JRX wireless flash, Nikon SB80DX w/ craft foam snoot

[Rewind: Brenizer Method Creates Bokeh You Won’t Believe!]


The best way to “dip your toes” into the Brenizer method is with a 70-200 lens zoomed in to 100-200mm.  This is because at such long focal lengths, your images are more likely to come together nicely in stitching.  The closer you get to your subjects, or the wider the angle lens you use, the more Photoshop will have a hard time putting the images together using automatic stitching options, and you might have to do it manually.

So, start by shooting one frame of your subjects, a “safety frame” if you will.  If your Brenizer Method stitch doesn’t work out, at least you have this.  It may also help to zoom out to 70mm or something, and also snap that wider angle view so you have that to compare as well.

Then, using about a 50% overlap, start shooting more images around the edges of this initial composition.  The better you are at spatial things like this, the more of your scene you’ll be able to include before it all gets out of control. Shoot slowly and methodically, and when in doubt, re-shoot and re-overlap!

A tripod helps, but if your shutter speeds are fast enough and your focal length is long enough, it’s not totally necessary.  Just shoot steady!

Once you get your images into Lightroom, Make sure you’re applying the exact same processing to all of them, especially any necessary lens corrections.  Things like sensor dust are a good idea to clone out of the original images, however burning and dodging or other cloning ought to be left until later.

When you head into Photoshop, you can try the “Automatic” stitching option first, but if that doesn’t work, I find that “Cylindrical” almost always does the trick but you may need to correct some serious barrel distortion afterwards.

In Photoshop, don’t crop your final image too severely, it’s better to make final cropping decisions back in Lightroom if you can.  Don’t forget to flatten your PSD file if necessary, otherwise your file size might become rather unruly!

Once you get the PSD / TIF file back into Lightroom, then feel free to burn & dodge to your hearts’ content, (I applied a lot more burning & dodging to these images after I was done making the video!) …and/or any special, stylized processing.

The Final Images

brenizer-method-tutorial-slr-lounge-3Blended layers, without additional editing

brenizer-method-tutorial-slr-lounge-4Final Editing Applied (Burn & Dodge, Crop, Vignette, “Sky & Clouds” brush)

brenizer-method-tutorial-slr-lounge-1Cool “Wash” Version, Using SLR Lounge Preset “Neutral Wash – Cool Cross”

brenizer-method-tutorial-slr-lounge-2B&W Version, Using Additional Burning & Dodging, plus
“B&W Warm Boost – Heavy” Preset To Brighten Skin Tones

[Rewind: Wedding Bokeh With Image Stitching – How We Shot It]


As always, please feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions or additional tips!

Take care and happy clicking,
=Matthew Saville=

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Matthew Saville is a full-time wedding photographer at Lin & Jirsa Photography, and a senior editor & writer at SLR Lounge.

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Q&A Discussions

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  1. Brandon Bredehoft

    When shooting this do you just love know your focus or do you refocus not sure how that works… Love the look I’ll have to try it!

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    • Barry Cunningham

      Manual focus left consistent across all shots is practically mandatory for consistent blending, especially if shooting with a shallow DOF. Otherwise you are likely to have focus banding artifacts from adjacent images and stitching errors from trying to match photos of the same area with different focus.

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  2. Emaad


    use alternate stitcher like opensource Hugin for easy stitching. If you can send me some sample pictures, I may write a short tutorial using hugin.

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  3. Thomas

    Interesting technique but I think the final result looks a bit artificial, a little less shallow DOF might have had a more natural look.

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    • Matthew Saville

      Thomas, this is indeed why I always recommend snapping a normal, wider zoomed shot that doesn’t have the “Brenizer Effect” going on, just in case the client doesn’t like the look of the effect.

      At the end of the day, it’s all about understanding different creative processes and just playing around to see what you like!


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  4. Karen Julia

    Love this effect! I’ve experimented with it with my 85mm 1.2 and would agree a longer focal length works much better! Really useful article, will be trying this again this weekend!

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  5. Burt

    I was wondering why you had to crop and clone? I have had similar panos, and just use the ‘content aware fill’ to take care of the edges. Select the empty region, along with a small amount of good image, and choose the Fill command, content-aware.

    Abracadabra, the edges are extended. In about 75% of my images, you can’t tell where the new stuff was “made up” by Photoshop. Those times that it fails (by extending and repeating some portion that just doesn’t work), I can then choose between cropping that one edge out, or doing a manual clone.

    That content aware fill sure makes the job easier though!

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  6. Yann

    Matthew, I love this shot.
    Can you explain please which sky and clouds you used and how as it is not obvious in your final editing ?

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    • Matthew Saville

      Yann, the “Sky Cloud Ocean” I referred to is a brush preset that SLR Lounge has, sorry if that sounded confusing.

      I used it on almost the entire image, mainly around the edges and not over the couple. It just helps to add some “pop” to areas similar to skies, clouds, and oceans, but of course not necessarily limited to those things.

      I hope this makes sense!

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  7. Aaron Rahman

    Awesome shot! Are you triggering the flash for every frame, or is it triggered just for the main “safety frame?”

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    • Matthew Saville

      Since it was shot at f/2.8 and ISO 800, and the flash was only 20-30 feet from the subject, I was probably at 1/64 or 1/32 power, in which case I’d just let it pop for every single frame. However for example in the wedding dress “How We Shot It” published recently, it is indeed very important to have all flashes popping in all frames!


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  8. Apollo

    Matt, may I ask, what would you do if the combining fails and for example, there’s leg in two pieces or has got 90 degree corner in it, what do you do to fix it? Warp tool? Or?

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    • Matthew Saville


      I would either try a different blending mode for the panorama, or I’d photoshop it in from an original frame, or as a last resort or for very very minor “fractures” in a straight line, I might use the warp tool and then do some cloning / smoothing to clean it up.


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  9. Michelle Ford

    matt! i love it! guess what type of shot i’m gonna have to try out this weekend?!

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  10. KoKo Valadez

    Another application for stitching is Microsoft ICE. I have had some great photos from that application. I like to compare that and the Photoshop stitches and choosing which one did the best job. It’s free too for those who only shoot with LR w/ no PS flavor of any sort.

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    • Barry Cunningham

      I used Microsoft ICE for a long time. But I have a lot of panos that I could not stitch together in Microsoft ICE without stitching errors, which I was able to stitch together fine in PS 6. I found PS 6 more intelligent and forgiving. Of course, your mileage may vary.

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  11. Nate

    Were these shot in raw? I’ve read that jpeg will make the stitching much faster, but I was wondering just how performance intensive shooting raw would be.

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    • Matthew Saville

      Nate, if you’re doing work along these lines and are concerned about file size, instead of shooting JPG I would first recommend shooting in 12-bit lossy compressed RAW. It’s almost the same size as a JPG file, but almost all the quality of a normal RAW file!


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  12. Rick

    This is really awesome. One thing I absolutely love is shallow DOF images and one of the main reasons behind my EF 50mm f/1.2 L purchase. Sadly my only lens for now, but I will have to try this out even if just to learn the mechanics.

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    • Joe Martin

      Rick , if you follow Ryan Brenizer at all you will see that he uses a 85 MM for a lot of his shots. happy shooting

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