What happens when you are shooting in a scenic area during an engagement session filled with natural beauty for miles, and your widest angle lens doesn’t even come close to depicting the magnificent view that you see with the naked eye? Panoramic stitching solves this issue, allowing you to choose the beginning and end point of your landscape. Often, photographers don’t think to shoot panoramic images, maybe due to the cumbersome task of tripoding your camera or simply not wanting an ultra wide landscape shot to overpower your subjects.
The Brenizer Method of panoramic stitching, popularized in recent years by photographer Ryan Brenizer, uses a shallow depth of field in tandem with a wide angle view. When shooting at a wide aperture, the rest of your background fades to blur directing the eye to the subjects in focus.
How we Shot it
To yield the best results for this technique, place your camera on a tripod so that you can easily pan and stitch images together. Any major fluctuation in camera angle or focus from shot to shot will result in a skewed final image.
Start with your center image and then pan to the left most point of your photograph. If you are adding an off camera flash or strobe to illuminate your couple to pull them out from the background, use that as your preliminary shot. Have your light taken out of the shot as soon as you finish so that when you start panning the landscape remains in its natural state and there is no light source to be seen.
The key to maintaining a shallow depth of field is using manual focus. Lock in your focus on your subjects and then keep that focus as you pan. Position your subject anywhere in your frame because this does not make an actual difference for your image. For example, if your subject isn’t bullseyed in the center of the frame, use leading lines and your landscape to direct the viewer to see your subject.
Post Producing a Panoramic Stitch
Lightroom makes it effortless to stitch together a panoramic image in a matter of seconds. Simply select the grouping of images that make up the final shot as a whole, right click and select Photo Merge > Panorama. Be on the lookout for a Lightroom tutorial involving panoramic stitching coming soon to the SLR Lounge Store and Premium content page.
Panoramic stitching offers a fresh new perspective on shooting a wide angle image to capture every detail in your environment. Applying a shallow depth of field when using this technique transforms the focus of the image and sends the background into a magical blur.
For more behind the scenes footage where you can see this technique in action, be sure to check out the Unscripted Photo Shoot BTS Workshop, available to SLR Lounge Premium Subscribers. Find out how you can become a Premium member here!