The Brenizer Method – an awakening

I stumbled across this looking for something else, and it caught my attention. I will paraphrase the method below, but would strongly recommend that you investigate over the internet; there are plenty of instructions out there that will get you in the ball park. (here, here and here for starters…)

So what is the Brenizer Method:

It a mechanism of producing the benefits of an image with a very narrow depth of field, and extending that focal plane across a larger area. It gives you a tilt and shift effect with a band of in focus detail across the finished frame.

It also delivers a medium to large format level of quality from a much smaller CCD size… if all the pieces fall into place. This is the key issue here, everything has to fall into the right place for it all to work; Lighting, Subject, Processing and final finishing… This complexity provides both its infuriating frustration and satisfaction in equal amounts.

So, to paraphrase, you take a very narrow depth of field image of you key subject to capture that subject with as much of the frame as possible, if it’s a portrait, then it would be just the face. This image could stand up on its own (file that one away)… then keeping all the settings on the camera identical you move around this key image in an ever expanding spiral ensuring you have a moderate amount of overlap in each capture. Note: with identical settings to the original capture; white balance, focal length, focus, ISO, shutter speed, etc. These images should be identical in exposure to the first key image.

Now you can complete your processing of your images, in two stages. First stage finish your images with the profiles/recipes to your taste, make sure that all images are processed exactly the same way, so tonally, and exposure wise all the images are identical. Second stage is to stitch these images together, as a panoramic stitch.

Here is another interesting aspect of this technique, what do you use to stitch these captures together. I had tried quite a few, and that is a story for another day.  If you are already a Photoshop user, then that works well. I wanted something a little less complex… A number of experimenters with this method suggested Hugin. Unfortunately, being fairly impatient, I found this equally frustrating… Not wishing to add to my existing frustration, I continued looking. I found a tool from Microsoft Research, Image Composition Editor, another free download that just did panoramic stitching. It does basic blending of the exposure values (which you have already worked studiously to stabilise). This gets you to the point where you can decide whether to invest in a more complex tool, or not.

What sort of subjects does this method suit, many subjects from portraits to landscape, and everything in-between… As you may, or may not know, my morbid fascination is portraits… so to stretch/distract myself, I started with landscape details. It does give a very different effect, and encourages you to construct an image, rather than take one.  It allows you a level of detail that will permeate the image, and a path that draws the eye through an image (not what I was expecting). Now that I have a basic grasp on this method, I have a strong curiosity to explore it with people, figures and faces…

Please find below some samples of mine taken whilst growing into this method.

Experiment #2 – Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved – Andy Lalaguna

Experiment #3 – Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved – Andy Lalaguna

These are compressed images, at approximately 20% of their original size. One of my attempts, came in at 300Mb for a JPG… be aware, that your platform doing the processing/stitching of the raw images my have its work cut out to achieve the output…

PS. All that being said, get out there and shoot.


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