Woo-hoo! “Brenizer Method” (bokehrama, etc.) instructional video, produced by B&H!

Update: See an updated gallery of Brenizer-method images at Google Plus

So, there was this crazy technique I came up with and streamlined a few years ago to use the effects of a multi-layer panorama, combined with fast lenses shot wide-open, to achieve depth-of-field impossible with current lenses. Ever wanted to shoot with a 24mm f/0.4? This technique gives you the opportunity. I asked a few thousand people if they’d ever seen anything like this before and no one had, so I thought I may be on to something. Still, out of the tens of millions of photographers out there I figured nothing is new under the sun, so I worked and worked on different applications of this. How do I do a 20+ image panorama of moving objects like people? How do I do this with continuous lighting? How can I do this with flash? Along the way, people started calling it “The Brenizer Method,” and while I like to think I have a lot more than one method, I admit I am honored and amused by the way it messes with my siblings’ heads.

It’s pretty simple once you learn the process, but I find for almost everyone it requires hands-on, visual learning to really get it. I’ve wanted to do a really good video of it for a long time, and finally I got the opportunity with the great team at B&H Photo.

If you’re interested in learning more, keep this page marked — I’ll use it as my new home base of information about the technique.

PS: Yes, I know there’s no such thing as a 135mm f/1.2. A man can dream, can’t he? And yes, I know I talk with my hands. That’s why I weigh them down with heavy cameras.

Quick tip: One important thing that got left on the cutting-room floor. When shooting any panorama ALL of your settings should be the same shot to shot — your focus, your ISO, your aperture, your shutter speed, and your white balance, otherwise it will be a hot mess. If your camera has an “AEL/AFL” button set to lock both exposure and focus, this takes care of all the variables except the white balance, and if you’re shooting RAW you can correct that later.

Also, photographer Brett Maxwell has come out with a really handy spreadsheet tool so you can figure out the exact equivalent of you final shot in 35mm terms. For example, in the shot in the B&H video, taken with a 105mm f/1.8, the final frame acts like it was shot by a 49mm f/0.8 lens.

Further tips and links (Updated as I have time)

Software: I used Photoshop CS5 in the video because that’s pretty much the current default. Any Photoshop of CS2 or higher will do it, but strangely I find CS3 works better than CS4 or CS5. Since I do this so much, I’ve invested in Autopano Pro, which makes the process so much easier and can also batch multiple panoramas at one time, so if I do four or five of these on the wedding day, I can process them all at once very quickly.

To Tripod or Not to Tripod: I should do a review of pano heads someday, but since I tend to use this technique with people I choose speed of capture over the absolute perfection of a pano head. You tend to only get in trouble when shooting either really close to the subject or things like stairs or railings, both due to parallax error. Good stitching programs, which you’ll need to correct for the vignetting of shooting wide-open, also correct mild parallax as long as you overlap your images by at least a third.

Published by

Ryan Brenizer

I take pictures.

97 thoughts on “Woo-hoo! “Brenizer Method” (bokehrama, etc.) instructional video, produced by B&H!”

  1. Thanks for adding the tip about the re-position option in Photomerge. I occasionally get that wacky triangle of pixels that looks like an old 3D video game polygon error. I’m hoping this will help avoid that in some cases.

  2. What???
    I am a friend of your mom’s so you know I am in awe
    (generation gap).

  3. Wow!!
    I’ve loved this technique since you first put up the Irish shots, Ryan.
    Any chance you can talk-through how you use AutoPano Pro with it? I have the software – I use it for *large* panoramas – but it’d be cool to use it for this!

  4. At first I was confused. All the talking made me totally lost and then the second you showed the screen, it clicked. BOOMshakalaka styles.

    Really cool and I’ll be practicing this very soon!

  5. Pingback: Jessica and Andrew
  6. Superb technique! I want to know how you deal with lens vignetting. I am thinking of shoting white wall, open the photo on PS (I still use CS2) and remove the vignette using lens correction, and note the setting for each lens. How’s that?

  7. Amazing! This is going to change the way I see everything. What a great technique to have in your arsenal for creativity! Thank you Ryan!

  8. Hey Ryan! Thanks for great inspiration and a rocking technique to allow us sublunary creatures get the large format effect with a puny 35mm digital!

    Just wanted to ask, how did you manage the beautiful analog styled frames on your photos? For example the “Wedding Bliss”?

    Looking forward to seeing your future work!

    All the best,

    André

  9. Very nice pics.
    Regarding using the same settings for all of the shots, for an aps-c where you can’t lock focus for multiple shots, rather than focus locking on the subject then moving away and shootingthe next shot, should one use manual focus once and shoot all the photos with that?

  10. Hi Ryan,

    I didn’t realise you’d actually published a tutorial on how to achieve this effect! Going to watch this when I get in and give it a go. Thanks for sharing!

  11. an 8×10 camera will produce a similar effect of a shallow depth of field + wide angle of view, but this is a fascinating technique for producing that aesthetic with more modern tools.

  12. Great idea. How do you keep the shallow depth of field when you are focusing only on the background (and not the subject). The camera’s focus must lock on something… and that will be in sharp focus.

  13. Hi Ryan, amazing video, thankyou so much for making this! Could I ask about your workflow for dealing with these images? I assume you shoot raw, do you develop them completely in Autopano or do you use something like lightroom as well?

  14. How do you control the exposure for all the shots? is the camera on manual mode?

  15. By the way, both Arri and Cooke produce 135mm ~F1.2 lenses. They are a bit pricey though. :)

  16. That’s very cool effect, colleague!
    It invokes very strange (but pleasant) feeling, when you look at the photo, produced that way.
    I avtually want to follw your method and see what can I do.
    Thank you!

  17. I wonder why at the rates he charges he doesn’t try something like a Phase One IQ160 with a 150/2.8 lens. Translated into 35mm terms it would get him very close to his mythical lenses, in a single frame, with zero post.

  18. Just discovered your method, its innovative but skill heavy. Just light up in my mind to do the same with nearly 100% success but cost heavy.

    Your principle is virtually divided the finished photo into small photo segments, shooting them one by one and stitched them together. What I am thinking is building an array of 2×2 or 3×3 or bigger…array of cameras on a tripod in a matrix so that they can shoot all the small photo segments at once. With the debut of EOS 6D using WiFi, simultaneous shooting with same camera settings seems totally feasible.

  19. Howdy! I know this is kind of off topic but I was wondering which blog platform are you using for this
    website? I’m getting tired of WordPress because I’ve had
    problems with hackers and I’m looking at alternatives for another platform. I would be awesome if you could point me in the direction of a good platform.

  20. Hi Ryan, first of all thanks so much for sharing this great technique! I have a question related to human subjects: how can you use this method with subjects that aren’t perfect still (like in the married couple on the top of this page)? I guess in these cases you have to take one shot of the whole subject and then take all the surroundings otherwise the merge procedure could create some terrible results. I’ve never used this PS function so maybe I’m wrong, I’m just thinking how it could be…

  21. what he forgot to mention is that you should shoot in manual focus otherwise your focusing system will start shifting to other focusing point as you move.

  22. Amazing work! The editing is also great according to the opinion of retouch specialist from clippingmaskasia.com

  23. Great Tutorial! I’m sure you understand, sometimes you get into a rut where nothing works and everything looks awful.
    This design was fantastic and opened my eyes to trying something different and unique.
    The techniques you described were simple to implement but extremely effective and creative. Great job! I really loved it!!
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  24. This is interesting, but there is an easier way. Look at the pictures on this website fb.me/2y4SdQvjB. I learned how to do the same in 2 days. It turns out very easy :) Now I process photos to friends by $ 5 per photo and earn $ 50-70 for 4-5 hours

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