Don’t you wish you could take super-crisp portraits at incredibly shallow depths of field? Not just the eyes or some other narrow point of focus, but the entire face and even the upper body? If so, then take a look at this tutorial by photographer Glyn Dewis. He shows us how to use Photoshop’s panorama option to create images with sharp detail and incredibly shallow depth of field:
The Brenizer Method
In this tutorial, Dewis takes us through the Brenizer method—a post-processing technique in which you merge a number of frames of a portrait into a single, sharp whole. The effect, when done correctly, simulates the look and feel of an image taken with a medium format camera. The larger size of the film or digital sensor (two to six times larger than 35mm) on a medium format camera creates images of much higher resolution and sharpness.
How to Fake a Medium Format Portrait
All you have to do is take your first shot of the face, lock the focus, and take a number of different shots to cover every single part of the portrait you want to be in focus (you should only focus on the first shot).
You’ll be merging these photos together like a jigsaw puzzle in post-processing.
With Photoshop and Lightroom, the post-processing is super easy, with Photoshop’s Merge to Panorama seamlessly stitching all the elements together.
Create a merged layer by going to:
Select > Select All
Edit > Copy Merged
Edit > Paste
Using the magic wand tool, click in the transparent area around your image.
Go to Select > Modify > Expand and then Edit > Fill > Content Aware. Click OK, and Photoshop should fill in the transparent areas to blend with the rest of your image. If there are any areas left that didn’t blend well, you can use the Clone Stamp tool to fix them.
Tips for the Brenizer Method
There are a few things you’ll need to keep in mind though, to have this process work successfully:
- Make sure you set the white balance (which setting you choose isn’t important as long as it’s not auto). If you leave it on auto, you’ll probably end up with a number of different white balances.
- Try the editing out on a small resolution version of the photo first to make sure it’s going to work (Dewis exports for email from Lightroom and then imports back in). The panorama processing can take quite a long time when working with large images.
- If your camera doesn’t allow you to lock focus, then change your settings to manual focus after the first shot to prevent the camera from changing the focus.
- Dewis says this in the video, but it bears repeating: make sure to check the geometric distortion correction on the panorama import dialog box. If you don’t, you’re likely to run into some perspective issues.
If everything goes well, you should have a super-crisp portrait with a medium format feel.
What’s more, this technique can be used just about anywhere on just about anything that’s motionless.
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