Bokeh panoramas and Photoshop CS5


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:


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:


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:


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.

SFMoe - my biggest issue with doing the brenizer method was that ps would crash often even with a powerful machine… i will have to make a point of trying to get ps cs5 a try .. nice post!

Bryan Villarin - Oh, so that’s where I’ve been going wrong when trying to make these panoramas – CS4 < CS3. (I haven't had a successful one since May 2009. Boo. Now I know.)

Dee - This year I told myself I need to learn and master this technique…still not perfect but I managed to understand it… thanks for showing this to us :)

Brian Hargreaves - Thanks for posting a real example. I’ve watched the videos and have been wondering how well it worked in a real life situation. I’m looking forward to using the content aware fill myself!

Hegarty_david - I tried out this effect with my trial copy of CS5 too and the content aware fill work pretty good in a lot of situations.

Here is a 19 shot panorama shot at 400mm (640mm equiv) f5.6 with beautifully narrow depth of field.

Logan - Just out of interest, have you ever tried using Hugin for stitching, rather than messing with CS4? I’ve used hugin exclusively for years and it’s done well for me. Plus it’s free.

Sandesh Kumar - An admirer of shallow depth of field :)

Sandesh Kumar R - So if the content aware fill was not available, what would you usually do to patch the picture in this case?

Sandesh Kumar - So what do you do if you end up with a patch like this while creating a panorama ? it happens a lot with me… Please help..