Bokeh panoramas and Photoshop CS5

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The trials of Photoshop CS5 are available for download, and of course the first thing I did was to try a “Brenizer method” panorama on them. Since I like to be timely, here’s one I just shot a few hours ago, during an engagement shoot with Jennifer and Richard.

For new readers, basically the trick is to use a multi-image panorama to make for a super-shallow depth-of-field by using a longer lens. This was 18 images with an 85mm f/1.4. If I’d had to use a shorter lens like a 24mm to capture everything in one frame, all of that background foliage would be in focus as well. Here is an example of a single frame from the shot:

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I have not been happy overall with the performance of CS4 in stitching these sorts of panoramas, keeping CS3 around or using a dedicated program like Autopano Pro. Is CS5 better? On the good side, I fed it 18 full-resolution images, which usually causes Photoshop to hang for a long time, if not crash. It took a while, but the progress was steady and measured, and produced an image without major artifacts. On the bad side, it still has the CS4 habit of throwing pieces it doesn’t know what to do with into the corner and not making it easy to move them:

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Now the exciting part is “content aware fill,” which fills in gaps by taking into account all of the textures around it. And it seems to work really, really well in general. Here was the cropped section, with a gap the stitching couldn’t fill. One swipe of content-aware spot healing produced the image up top:

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BUT you have to be careful when doing these panoramas, as the whole point of them is to create a very three-dimensional look where everything is in a certain amount of focus due to its relationship to the focal plane (like most pictures, just more so). Photoshop will very happily grab the surrounding textures even if they’re in a different part of the focal plane, which in this case would have made content-aware fills of the out-of-focus brown patches in the grass look out-of-place. Overall, though, it should be a valuable tool in the panorama arsental.

“Creativity on the Fly” Lecture at Adorama June 21

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Exciting news! I’ll be joining the ranks of well-known photographers like Cliff Mautner and Joe McNally as a lecturer in Adorama’s workshop series. On June 21, I’ll be giving a talk on a subject near and dear to my heart: “Creativity on the Fly, Turning Bad Shooting Situations into Great Wedding Photos.”

Weddings are, at their heart, barely controlled chaos, and it is the photographers who learn to do good work even when everything is lined up against them who will be successful in the long run. And if there’s one thing that a long history of shooting in New York City has taught me, it’s how to deal with adversity. We’ll be discussing how to think through shoots when the light, the location, and time is against you, and hopefully have some fun. Just $35 for a two-hour lecture, which is about as inexpensive as anything gets in Manhattan.

Seating is limited, so click here to read more and sign up!