Medium format cameras can produce beautiful results, especially when it comes to portraits. But to get that look, you either need a pricey digital medium format camera. Or you have to go old school and use a film camera. A third, accessible option requires only a DSLR digital camera and Photoshop.
Called the Brenizer Method, this technique gets you a portrait that is perfectly in focus with a shallow depth of field. So what do you need? In addition to a DSLR, and access to a program like Photoshop or Lightroom, you’ll also need a patient model and a still background. (If you want to practice, you could use a doll or teddy bear to get the hang of the method before moving on to a model.)
Step 1: Get Your Camera Ready
You’re going to want to go manual on your camera to do this. First, you’ll want to select your white balance — don’t leave it on the automatic setting. It doesn’t matter what you choose as long as its the same white balance setting for all your images.
Second, you’ll want to set your camera to a wide aperture. (The lower the number the wider the aperture.) The actual setting will depend on your lens. One way to find the perfect number is to go as wide as possible, take a photo and if your model’s eyes are out of focus, decrease one stop at a time.
For your lens, you have two choices, You can keep it in automatic focus, and after taking your first shot, lock your focus. Or you can just switch it to manual focus, and focus it for your first shot.
Step 2: Take Your First Shot
Your subject will need to stay still, as you take photos from the exact same spot. The most important image is that of your model’s face. Make sure that his/her face are completely in focus. (Zoom in and check the eyes to make sure.)
Step 3: Take the Rest of Your Shots
Continue to take photos, panning the camera around to get a variety of shots of your model. You’ll want to take at least 15 photos, snaking around to get a variety of shots. (You can see exactly how to do this in the video below.)
Step 4: Stitch the Photos Together
Once you’re done taking photos, transfer them to your computer to stitch them together. You can do this either with Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom.
In your program of choice, go to File > Automate > Photomerge. A window will open where you can select your images. If you already have your images open in Photoshop, select Add Open Images. If you want to browse to the folder with the photos, click Browse. Once you have your images selected, choose the Reposition layout.
Click OK, then sit back and let Photoshop take care of the rest. This might take a while depending on your machine. Once it’s done, you’ll need to crop your photo to remove the corners of the image that are empty and you’re done.
The final result is a beautiful photo of your subject perfectly in focus, with a blurred background that looks like it was taken with a medium format camera.
To see this method in action, check out the video below:
Do you have any tips to get more out of your digital camera? Let us know in the comments.