The end of last year I discovered Photochallenge.org. This is a small group of photographers who set forth a weekly challenge to other professional and amateur photographers. What I was drawn to with this weekly assignment is that is pushes you to try new techniques and get out and take pictures on a weekly basis. I'm taking part again this year and will also do a quick blog post about each of them. The rules of the challenge do require that these are new pictures, not from your back catalogue. With my busy work schedule, I may not be able to get out each week and do this, so I will likely add a few of my older photos on the blog--taking the opportunity to look at the plethora of pictures I've taken and actually do some processing and weeding.
2016 Photochallenge Week 10: Outdoor Brenizer Method
This week was a tough one. The challenge was to use a method of photography pioneered by Ryan Brenizer, a wedding portrait photographer. The idea is to take multiple photos of the subject using a wide aperture, making the subject in good focus and the background somewhat fuzzy--imitating the effect of larger format cameras. The smaller image sensors of most modern digital cameras have a hard time handling this, so by stitching together a grid of smaller photos in post processing you can fake it.
Looking at the chatter on the Photochallenge facebook site, this one was tough on a lot of people, not just me! I did get a lot of good advice and saw some examples of this method there that inspired me. My first try was of some statues at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, but he day was overcast and these just ended up looking flat and sad. I was then going to let the challenge go (lousy weather) until this past Saturday morning when sun came out and temps jumped up to 60! While my wife was getting ready (we were going to the Orpheum Theater downtown) I jumped in the car and whipped over to Waconia's cemetery for one last try. There were some amazing old grave markers here and I tried several subjects while I was there. I would find a spot to stand and then do about 4-5 shots focused up the top of the marker, moving over just a bit with each shot. Then I would aim down a bit and get the main structure with another 4-5 shots. Then the base of the marker. I had to do this all in manual mode to keep all my settings the same for stitching these together.
Above are two of the shots I took using this pattern.
Taking these photos home and importing into Photoshop Elements, I opened all the photos in the series into the editor. My computer isn't robust, so this really slowed down the speed of the program to where at times I thought it had frozen completely. In the future I will edit the photos and save them as smaller files first--but that was an extra step I didn't want to do this time out--especially not knowing if this was even going to work! Using the Photomerge setting, I was easily (but slowly) able to stitch the photos into a panorama.
Above is the final product, cropped a bit since the panorama edges were a little wacky. I do like how the effect shows the central marker with some clarity while the rest of the markers are a bit more blurry. The whole thing also has a wide angle look that would be impossible to pull off with may current lens. I might crop this a bit further to follow the rule of 3's and effectively move my main subject over a bit--but for now I wanted folks to see the whole thing!