#52weekproject: Week 4 – Getting Flashed in the Park

Jared and Hagene

Jared and Hagene

GTFO! Going To Flipping Oregon!

Sometimes, you find yourself so irritated with your friends, that the only way to get away from them is to move just about as far away as possible. And that’s just what my friends, Jared and Hagene did. Sure, they claim it was because Hage landed this really awesome job opportunity with Nike, but one can never really be sure, you know?

Last Monday was their last night in town. They gathered some of their closest friends in Chicago (which I assume includes me, since I was there) for a low-key farewell dinner at Bricks Pizza. We enjoyed some laughs over drinks, and thin-crust pizza, and ended with some hugs, tears, and farewells. It was definitely a bittersweet farewell, as Hage has been one of my best friends for over 13 years. We’ve been friends since our time in the dorms at the University of Michigan, and she was kind enough to tolerate me and let me crash on her couch when she convinced me to take a job in Chicago a couple years ago. So, to me, I’m not really saying “farewell”, I’m just saying, “Hey, can’t wait to crash on your couch in Portland!”

Just around the corner from the restaurant was a park bench, which was basically the first thing I saw that would be suitable for them to sit on. Temps were hovering in the single digits, so I tried to make it this portrait session as quick as possible. I did my best Chris Hansen impression and asked:

“Why don’t you take a seat over there?”

They did as I asked, and got comfy as I set up my equipment. I set up my flash and lightstand with a white shoot through umbrella just to the right, and started moving quickly. I had everything set up manually; triggering the flash with some cheapo (but super reliable, yongnuo rf-602) flash triggers. So yeah, I was the flasher in the park.

The Brenizer Method

So, sure, this looks like a pretty straightforward portrait, shot strobist style. But, that’s the genius behind the whole thing. It’s not an ordinary portrait. It’s shot using a unique technique which replicates the look of large format by allowing more shallow depth of field than is capable with a full-frame camera. How is this done you ask? By taking a series of overlapping photos that can be stitched together and expanding that photo into a larger panorama. This technique is known as a bokeh panorama, or expansion, but more commonly referred to as the Brenizer Method. It’s pretty awesome.

So, I’ve known about this technique for a while, but never really put it into practice. I’ve always had trouble with getting panoramas to line up and stitch together properly, but I think that’s likely because I’m using too wide of a lens. Here, I’m using a 85mm, so I can get more shallow depth of field, but it also means there’s less distortion in the photo, which makes it easier to stitch together. I did still have to do a little filling in since I missed the bottom right corner, but I think it turned out pretty well for my first attempt.

Shot with my D800, and a total of 21 shots. I downsized each photo to a 12mp jpeg before I stitched them together (otherwise, it would have been way too big for my computer to handle). I still ended up with a 60 megapixel photo (or what would have been 180 megapixels if I hadn’t resized). And, the extra bonus is that with the larger image, the noise is reduced (or at least smaller when resized), so the image looks extra smooth.

So, yeah. Super happy with the results from this week’s project. Anybody else try this technique before?

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