The Brenizer Method in Digital Photography is exactly what I never knew I always loved.
While earning my B.S. at Pacific Union College, I fell in love with large format photography. 4×5 in particular. I loved that it could capture so much information and gave you a lot of creative options in the darkroom. Shooting 4×5 film for me was relaxing. You could not really rush an image. First you had to setup the tripod, then mount the camera, extend the bellows, compose your image, set your focus using a loupe on the ground glass under the dark focusing cloth, take a meter reading, set your aperture and shutter speed, close the shutter, insert your film back, remove the dark slide and then finally, if your subject hadn’t moved or if the sun hadn’t hidden behind a cloud, you could press the cable release and capture 1 shot.
The other thing about large format photography I enjoyed was the extreme degrees of focus you could manage. Lenses with aperture settings of f45 and f64 would put the world in focus or by swinging or tilting the lens board and using a small aperture f4 even down to f1.4, you could create a very shallow depth of field that you could not achieve using a 35mm camera.
A few weeks ago I was reading some posts in a Facebook group on photography when someone posted a question of how to achieve good bokeh in a group shot. One reply was to look into the “Brenizer Method”. Curious, I did, and I found amazing images by Ryan Brenizer. The method which got named after him for his technique of using a 85mm f1.4 lens to shoot a panorama, creating a final image with the shallow depth of field associated with a large format camera. First in Aperture Priority Mode set the exposure according to the scene with the aperture set at f1.4 (or as wide open as your lens will allow) then make the same exposure settings in manual mode. Manually focus on your subject and leave it be as this will give you the same focal plane in all of the images and ultimately the final composition. As the total of the exposures will take several seconds to produce, begin shooting your subject first so there is no blur or movement, then capture the rest of the images surrounding the subject. The trick is to overlap the images a little 25% or so to provide sufficient information to create a smooth blending of the images. You may capture upwards of 20 photos, more will work, as I have had a great result from 42 images. However the fewer images to stitch together, the quicker the processing time will be, also there is no need to shoot in RAW or in the full size resolution Jpg that your camera is capable of. (Example: Canon 5D Mark II – 21mp x 20 images = 400mp or 22,000 X 18,300 pixels = too big to process). Now back in the computer stitch the images together using panorama stitching software like Adobe Photoshop or Kolor Autopano Giga. After the panorama is complete it is time to go in close and make any corrections in the stitching to ensure that lines match up and that the final composition looks like 1 single image with wonderful shallow depth of field.
The tutorial I found most helpful is by Richard Bui Photography. Click here for his tutorial.
Here are the 3 images I have create using this method.