This uses the same method as shooting a panorama (taking lots of shots and stitching them together) except instead of going left and right like you would for a panorama you go left, right, up and down to create a larger image in a ‘normal’ image size (Like 4:3). It creates an effect of a lovely bokeh (or blurry) background. I started doing it because I can only be a certain distance away from my camera and use my remote shutter, I only later realised it was a ‘method’. Apparently a lot of photographers used it and had being doing so for years, but Ryan Brenizer was one of the first to explain it.
I kind of do it a bit differently because I’m usually taking pictures of myself, so I only take one photo of the person in the middle. You will probably find that other people take a few.
- Choose a low (wide) aperture. My lens goes down to 1.4. Stop down as far as you can go, anywhere around 2 is good for a nice out of focus background.
- Make sure your model can hold the pose. Otherwise this makes the whole thing kind of pointless as you wont be able to merge them.
- If you aren’t too steady with your hands, use a tripod. You don’t have to use a tripod. Clearly I do as I’m in the shot as well, but it’s not necessary so long as you have a steady hand.
- Shoot JPEG. This is going to create a massive file, if you shoot RAW it will be a massive massive massive file. Photoshop has limits for how big a file you can save in it, shoot RAW and you’re likely to find out what that limit is 😉 I speak from experience. Also you might find that your computer isn’t powerful enough to process it all.
- Manual focus. I auto focus on me, shoot me, then switch the manual to shoot the rest. However you decide to do it, just make sure you don’t change your focus.
- Set your white balance. As discussed two bullet points back, don’t shoot RAW. This means you lose the advantage of being able to mess with your white balance quite as much in post processing.
1. Take a photo of your subject first. In both of those examples, and the example I’m going to use, that would be me 😉 Cause I’m vain like that. Make sure that your subject pretty much fills the frame, or take multiple shots of them. If you are going to take multiple shots of them, make sure they are standing still otherwise you’ll have issues trying to stitch them together! (Multiple shots might be get really really close to them, shoot their head then the left half of their body, then the right, the the left leg, then the right leg).
2. Take a lot of images around the scene. I took 10 for this one. It is really really really important that the images overlap. For this, more images is better than few otherwise you might end up with gaps in the shot. I went back and re-shot a floor because I wasn’t sure I’d moved the camera enough. The more images you take, the more scene you create. This is quite minimal, but it’s quicker for me to write something with fewer shots 🙂 I normally shoot the subject first, and then work my way around the scene in a clockwise rotation for a shot like this where I’m not expanding it much. When I’m doing a big expansion (like the one of me on the path) I shoot top left to top right, and work my way down in rows. It’s useful to have a visual marker so you know how far left or right to go – like a tree or the edge of a building. It’s better if you try and keep some sort of pattern to shooting, as otherwise you’ll end up missing chunks from the image.
3. Photomerge. Open up Photoshop. Go to File – Automate – Photomerge. Select all of the frames you shot for this. Make sure ‘Blend Images Together’ is ticked at the bottom. Go and have a cup of tea. With my 10 files it took about a minute. If you shot loads, or shot in RAW you might be there a while. Possibly get a biscuit too. Photoshop basically does all of the hard work for you. It looks at all of the different images, decides which bits of each to keep, overlaps them, sorts them out and creates a layer mask for each. If I’m happy with it I normally select all of the layers and right click – Merge Layers. If your not happy with it you can amend the layer masks by hand.
4. Crop and edit. Spend about 10 minutes editing your shot so you end up with what you were going for… Sometimes Photoshop gets confused and can’t match the images up. It is possible to do the entire thing manually with layers and layer masks, but it just takes longer. The image below was done by hand…