Brenizer Panoramas

How to get a wide view with shallow depth

Introduction

I have always enjoyed the challenge of taking a classic panorama. They allow you to “make a plan” and get a wide angle view of the world. When you either don’t have a wide angle lens or you would like a bigger file size.

Basic Definition: Photographic panorama is a technique used in photography. That captures images and blends them together to create a horizontally elongated field of view.

My first attempts were on very stationary subjects like landscapes. Settings were similar to what most landscape photographers would use, f/11 or f/16. I had time and often used a ball head on a tripod, with slower shutter speeds.

Context with Bokeh

Context is what shows that the animal in your photograph is wild. This context is often achieved by shooting wider. The nock on effect of using a wider lens is that the image looses the amazing benefits of lens compression*. That comes from using telephoto lenses. It also effects how the background blur or bokeh is rendered in the photograph.

*Lens compression is essentially the phenomenon of background elements appearing larger than they actually are compared to the focal subject.

So it did not take me long to start thinking how I could create a wider view of my animal subject. While still maintaining those amazing aspects of lens compression and bokeh that telephoto lenses provide. Its at this point I realized a fundamental advantage of a panorama. Shot with a telephoto lens at a very shallow depth of field. They provide the context of the animal in its environment in a way that still makes my subject pop out from the scene.

How I shoot a panorama: http://africaphotographicservices.com/telephoto-panoramas/

So what is a Brenizer Panorama?

Now if you are fimilar on how to shoot a panorama, basically its two or more panorama’s stacked on top of each other.

Sounds simple enough! Well its is, as long as you are shooting completely manually. Manual exposure and focusing. I would suggest reading that link above on how to shoot a basic panorama.

There is no difference in how a basic panorama is shot and edited, as compared to a Brenizer. Just remember to include that 30% overlap on the image above and below, just like you would right and left with a basic panorama.

Some advise with Brenizer or Bokeh Panorama’s

Manual

Get very familiar with your manual camera settings. The key to getting these to work and to make the process of stitching the images simpler. Is having only one point of focus and one exposure setting through out all the images. Get this wrong and the stitch will not work.

I am going to add in at this point, that my Fujifilm XT2 has made this process so much easier because in encourages the user to shoot manually. Combined with back button focusing the process could not be simpler.

Shutter speed

Shooting with a fast enough shutter speed. Don’t try and do this all organized on a tripod or ball head, it may work for static subjects. However if you have a subject that may get up and move, you need to be able to blitz through the pano quickly. So having a fast enough shutter speed to eliminate your camera movements as you sway through the scene helps a lot! Again stitching is going to be a mess, if you have blurry images.

Lens

I find it easier if you choose a focal length that includes your whole subject. Think of that image as a tight portrait and all the other images are creating the environment around it. By shooting this way, you will have that one frame that contains you whole animal. Should it move while you are still shooting the rest of the Brenizer, it dose not matter.

Aperture

Shoot as shallow as you can. The whole point of this technique is to have a wide angle photograph with a very shallow depth of field, if you shooting wider than f/5.6, you might as well just get a wide angle lens out and save your self the hassle.

Field Craft

Get some matter in the way, because you are shooting with the intention of having a very shallow depth of field. This technique will be wasted if there is a clear back ground and boring foreground. Also to get that soft Bokeh, you need matter to blur. So get bushes in-front and behind you subject.

Editing

I have read that Lightroom and Photoshop, have exactly the same or very similar “engines” that process and stitch panorama’s. Well my personal experience is that stitching in Photoshop is a lot more accurate than in Lightroom. The only real issue (& its a biggy) is that you cannot save the file. hahaha, ok you can if it is below 2GB. If its larger than 2GB you will  have to do it as a Large Format file or PSB, not a PSD … take note of this!

This is a 11 000 by 6200 pixel wide image, it has a similar feel to what a Medium format camera would produce. Shot on a FujiFilm XT2 camera with a 50-140mm f/2.8 lens

Hope it helps

I hope this helps and I really do hope that it may inspire your to try new things when out in the field. I suggest, starting with and easy one. The next time you are with a sleeping pride of lions and you have taken every possible photo, think about a panorama and then think about adding a layer above and below that.

Regards

Etienne

FYI: just one more time. You really do need to read this post about shooting a classic telephoto panorama, before jumping into Brenizer’s – http://africaphotographicservices.com/telephoto-panoramas/

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