Brenizer Effect – something different

People Photography! Its been a while since I’ve played with portraiture, but I saw something on my twitter feed that sparked my interest. It’s a technique that has been around a while, but refined by a chap called Ryan Brenizer, a wedding and social snapper out of NYC. I’d seen it before, and tried it, but it was a bit complicated and I wasn’t enamored by my results. Ryan recently release a tutorial┬áthat really got into the details of the method. The result of the method is a wide angle, very shallow depth of field picture that has a 3D quality to it that is impossible to get any other way (that I know of). This is a really cool effect and I wanted to give it another try.

Brenizer Effect Portrait

To shoot something like this, you need a DSLR, preferably full frame, and a fast short to medium telephoto lens. I’m lucky, as a few years ago my wife gave me a 105mm f2DC lens for Christmas. As I mentioned in an earlier post, this is my favourite portrait lens. It is crazy sharp wide open and fast, perfect for this project. Combined with the D800e, this is a very solid combo to try this effect, although you have to be very wary of the shutter speed if doing this handheld.

The process goes like this. Shoot the subject full frame at f2. Take shots for different poses so you have a choice later. With a locked exposure and auto focus, shoot around the subject, with an approx. 30% overlap on the frames. With a little practice, this is really quick.

Brenizer Effect 3

I shoot raw, so once I have the frames in Lightroom, I do any tweaking necessary and apply all the changes to all of the files. This is important, else you spend hours fixing it in post. Now, D800 raw files are huge and processing will slow to a crawl, so I cheat. I export small jpg copies of the frames to a new folder for further processing in Autopano. Once in Autopano, I work up the small jpgs to determine what frames I actually need. I over shoot, which gives me lots of cropping options. Processed out and a crop chosen, I then export the big files as .tifs – but just the ones I need for the crop. Process those through Autopano and I get a nice big picture with insane resolution. I re-import to Lightroom, final crop and tweaks and voila! An image that I’m happy to print at any size that has a unique look and feel.

Brenizer Effect 2

With a little practice, this technique is fairly straightforward. The key is to find good backgrounds / foregrounds that add interest to the image. My next goal with this is to try and combine off camera flash with this technique to have more control over the light…….


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