Brenizer Method: Wide Angle Shots with Shallow Depth of Field (at Night)

What happens when a talented photographer receives a new toy? They try something new and creative, of course! The Brenizer method is typically achieved with an 85mm lends at f/1.4. The goal is to use a telephoto lens at a wide aperture to create an extremely shallow depth of field at a wide angle, taking multiple shots of the surrounding area for the most profound effect. Then by use of photo editing software, the images are stitched together to create one image with an extremely wide angle. Benjamin Von Wong had just received a 400mm lens and decided to try to use the Brenizer method for promotional images for a local musician, Andrew Kesler. Due to scheduling conflicts, Andrew was only available at night, leaving them with very little options for lighting at their set, a rooftop. Spur of the moment, they decide to make use of a couple of iPhones—on the flash light setting! Take a look at what happens:

 Step 1: Find a rooftop.
Step 2: Call in a fellow artist to play supermodel.
Step 3: Try out a new photography technique.

 Alright, it’s not quite that simple.

Von Wong uses a large telephoto lens just to try something new, but he does not recommend using a 400mm lens to achieve the Brenizer method, due to camera shake and an inability to get up close and personal with your subject via such a large lens, however, he managed to create some stunning images using this gigantic piece of equipment! He says,

“We have about $18,000 worth of equipment here… and we’re lighting our shot with two iPhones! Challenge accepted.”

400mm Lens lit with two iPhones

This image was shot with just two iPhones for lighting, 400mm, f/2.8.

They even change it up a bit, adding a third iPhone and placing their lighting assistant behind the subject, making him disappear into shadow.

The Brenizer Method with three iPhones creating backlight and frontal light

This photo was taken with the same 400mm lens at f/2.8, but was lit with three iPhones, one behind, and two at camera right.

The Brenizer method is fun and challenging to begin with, even more so with the use of such a large and powerful telephoto lens, which Von Wong lugs around with difficulty,  but it appears to be more than worth it! With the help of photo editing software, the images are beyond startling. A challenge is almost always welcome. This just goes to show that it’s worthwhile to take an existing method and make it your own, even if the idea initially seems a little crazy.

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