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Tips & Tricks

Using The Brenizer Method In Studio To Emulate Striking Larger Format Portraits

By Kishore Sawh on April 19th 2015

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I don’t think anyone would begrudge me for saying that one of the most disheartening and frustrating things about photography is seeing images you love, that inspire you, that get you excited to emulate and evolve, and for the life of you, you are unable to. Often it’s a matter of know how, for sure, but in photography there’s no getting around the fact that gear plays a role.

This rings even more true for the beginners who, after taking advice from a misinformed friend or salesman, purchase a crop sensor DSLR and don’t realize that there’s more to sensor size than a ‘crop’ of field of view. Depth of field is handled quite differently among the primary sensor sizes, and the difference between a cropped sensor and that of medium format is like the difference between a degree from Yale and one from a community college; what they produce is perceived quite differently. But medium format is costly, to put it mildly, so how would one achieve that type of look, without having that gear?

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Most of us are familiar with the term, ‘Brenizer Method.’ Wedding photographer Ryan Brenizer created a method that results in a very shallow depth of field whilst maintaining a wide angle of view. This is something generally reserved for the larger formats, but requires basic equipment like a D5100 and a 50mm 1.8 along with Photoshop, to do if this method is used. So it’s nothing new, but typically it’s used ‘on location’ or at least out of the studio, which is perhaps a shame, especially after what you’ll see here.

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Some of the most compelling and striking portraits are taken with larger format cameras and have this duality of shallow depth of field along with a wide angle of view, and in a studio setting especially. Photography Glyn Dewis has created a video showing how he implements this technique in studio. While there is nothing new about the method, how he goes through his workflow and explains the process is actually very good, and for those looking to try this, it’s a great place to start. It will give you tips on shooting the images to composite, and how to use Photoshop to ‘finish’ the final image.

You can find more about Ryan Brenizer and his method here, and more from Glyn Dewis here.

Source: ISO1200

About

A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. norman tesch

    i shoot multi row panoramas, that is kinda what i do. wouldent it be easier to shoot the background then tou could put the person in the frame? you would also have to be in manual focus or it would just hunt for something new to focus on

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  2. Brian Calabrese

    nice.. but all that work :) I am saving my pennies for the Pentax 645z.. editing time is precious, imagine doing this on a whole portrait session ?

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  3. Rachit Vij

    Almost impossible with your 5 year old son!

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  4. Ralph Hightower

    Glyn mentioned about taking the white balance off auto; but since this is a panorama, shouldn’t the shutter speed and aperture also be manual? Even ISO? To me, that would seem to take out exposure variances.

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    • Dustin Baugh

      Maybe he was shooting in manual and didn’t mention that it would be important. But Photoshop is pretty good at balancing your exposure levels in case you weren’t in manual.

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  5. Thomas Horton

    I look forward to trying this with a still-life. Not sure how this would work with something that may move…certainly can’t try this with my dogs.

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  6. james bennett

    The only problem I see is you’re probably going to need continuous lighting or have really expensive strobes that won’t fluctuate color between bursts.

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  7. Aftere40 Aftere40

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  8. Daniel Lee

    Why is there so many spam comments all of sudden?

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    • robert garfinkle

      mine was a joke

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    • Graham Curran

      Maybe the admins are too restricted in their time zone and don’t read all the comments but when you see an obvious spam identity on the daily leader board then obviously there needs to be greater monitoring.

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  9. robert garfinkle

    I make little to nothing at home, except meals. dead broke. I keep spending it on photography equipment I don’t know how to use… commenting on a forum which occasionally get’s inundated with spam messages which are of no use other than to gain free experience points :)

    Click the little thumbs up to gain 5xp – on me this time guys n gals!!

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  10. Graham Curran

    When I used to shoot film I had a Zenza Bronica ETR-S as well as my OM system and loved the larger format. Moving to medium format digital seems like a much bigger financial step.

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  11. Brian Stalter

    Be still… be very still. And smile.

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    • Barry Cunningham

      Yeah.
      How do you get your model to stay still for 15 photos without moving at all between shots?
      You might need one of those frames for holding the model’s head that were used for daguerrotypes.

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    • Ed Rhodes

      Barry, I guess it would differ by pose, but i would shoot the face/hands first, then work out from there. those are the areas where you would get the most movement.

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    • Dustin Baugh

      Obviously having the model in a comfrotable, easy to hold pose is important.

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