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The Brenizer Method is named after wedding photographer, Ryan Brenizer. He invented the method (but didn’t name it) and made it popular by using it with his wedding clients, and teaching others how to do it as well. For those who have been around photography for a while, you will recognize the process. Photographers have been stitching images together to create panoramas for decades. However, Photoshop and similar software have now made this method extremely simple for you.
Creating an image using the Brenizer method takes more time than just capturing a single image, but the results are well worth it. When using this method, you will create an image with:
Once you’ve decided you want to try the Brenizer Method, you will need to decide where and what to photograph. Look for layers that will be interesting with a shallow depth of field. If you are shooting a subject, make sure the subject chooses a comfortable pose they can hold for up to 30 seconds.
Aperture – Shoot as wide as your aperture will allow. For some lenses that might be f/1.2 for others it may be f/3.5, and for the rest, it will probably be somewhere in between. The wider you can go, the more amazing effect you will achieve.
White Balance – You will want to choose any white balance other than auto. As you position your camera, auto white balance might change the color temperature as you move from shade to a brighter area or vice versa. Manually setting the Kelvin temperature is my preferred method. If you aren’t familiar with manipulating your white balance, here’s a great article to help you learn.
Focal Length – As you take these shots, you want your focal length to stay exactly the same. Shooting with a prime lens makes this easy, otherwise make sure to hold your lens carefully if it tends to zoom in and out easily.
Focus – Once you’ve set your focus on your subject, change it to manual and don’t touch it again until you’re done shooting your series.
Shooting your series of images in an organized layout will help the images stitch together better in your editing software. When you first try this method, you might be tempted go out of order and continue adding as many images as you think you might need. When you do that, Photoshop might give you an image with some holes and extra pieces at the bottom of your picture.
Before you start shooting, think about your final image. Will it look best as a vertical, horizontal, square, or a panorama? Make sure to shoot enough shots to be able to crop it in your preferred orientation.
While you are shooting your series of images, make sure to overlap each shot by at least 1/3. That will give the software enough information to see where each image belongs when it does the stitching. Most people take between 20-50 shots in their series that will be compiled into one final image. Take as many as you need and overlap by more than 1/3 if you feel more comfortable with that. As you gain experience with the Brenizer method, you will probably find a way to get the same result with less shots.
When you are ready to process the images, load them into a batch editing software, like Lightroom or Adobe Camera Raw. Edit the first image (exposure, contrast, saturation, etc.), then sync the entire batch of images so the exact same editing has been applied to each image in the series.
Next, you are ready to export your images. Since you’re going to be merging so many images together, there is no reason to export these as high resolution files. Doing so, would only slow down the process in Photoshop. Export your images as JPGs, with the long edge between 700-1000 pixels, depending on how many images you’re going to be merging.
Finally, open Photoshop. Go to File > Automate > Photomerge… When the window pops up, keep the default settings of “Layout: Auto and Blend Images Together” checked. Browse for your images and hit “OK”. Then it’s a waiting game. Depending on your file sizes, and the number of images your computer is processing, this could take 1-10 minutes.
Note: Similar results can be created using other software. To save time, I’m just mentioning the process I use with Photoshop.
If you shot your series in an organized layout, your software should have been able to piece your image together well. All that’s left to do is crop your image to the orientation you were hoping to use (vertical, horizontal, square, or panorama) and save it as a JPG. Voila!
It may seem like a lot of steps your first time through, but with more practice it becomes second nature.
Have you tried creating an image using the Brenizer Method? What was your experience? Do you have any additional tips that would help those getting started? Let us know in the comments. Also, feel free to share your Brenizer Method images as well. We’d love to see what you create!