Ryan Brenizer Talks About His Panorama Method

A while ago, I posted an article explaining the Brenizer method panorama. Ryan Brenizer is a NYC based wedding photographer and the “father” of Bokeh Panorama, or Brenizer panorama, technique, which allows one to achieve an otherwise impossibly shallow depth of field at a given angle of view. While I did my best to explain how it all works, it’s often better to see how one does it once than read about it ten times. And who to better do it that Ryan himself?

So here are a couple more tips for those of you interested in learning this technique, followed by Ryan’s much more understandable and professional explanation.

Brenizer method panorama

1) Remember Composition and Light

While Brenizer method panorama can help even the most simple and dull photograph look amazing, any eagle-eyed photographer will be able to tell you’re just trying to fool people by using simple aesthetics, such as bokeh, which has nothing to do with your skills as a photographer, only the lens you’re using. Light, Subject and Composition are the main aspects of an image, even when it’s 9463-ish pixels wide and has the most beautiful background blur you’ve ever seen. Work on it – find the best light, the best pose or lack of one, and work on your composition skills – Brenizer method is there to improve your photography and give you more creative choice, but that’s all it can do. The rest is, once again, up to the living, breathing creature holding the camera with a lens set wide open.

2) Always Start With that Moving Subject

If it’s breathing (trees need air, too), it can move and holding completely still for a longer period of time can be quite stressing, especially if you’re working with a client. Try to photograph your subject before you move on to anything else – grab them quickly in 4-5 sequential shots and move on. Once you’re safely keeping them out of your fragment shots, you can tell them to relax a little, or they’ll forget to breathe!

3) Make Sure Your Subject is Sharp

Yes, the image will be very big, which will allow you to print large and with a very high quality in mind. You don’t need the sharpest lens in the world for this, especially if you’re planning to downsize the image to a more manageable size than your average 60-100 megapixels (for the simple D700 users; D800/D600 users will have much more than those puny 100!). Still, a missed focus is a missed focus, and usually no amount of sharpening can save your from that situation.

Fast lenses can sometimes miss focus, and at close distances and open aperture even the slightest error is enough to ruin your image. Make sure your subject is focused just right before you feel confident of taking those remaining 10-50 images, otherwise it will all be for nothing! Also, don’t forget to calibrate your AF for every fast lens you own.

4) Play With It!

I’ve heard some photographers say you should never have out of focus objects at certain places in your image (like the foreground). I think that’s nonsense – it all depends on what you want. Brenizer method’s key offering is bokeh, so use it creatively!

And now, I give you to the capable hands of Ryan Brenizer at B&H and AdoramaTV:

I know some of our readers liked the technique very much. Have you got anything to share? We’d be delighted to see your work!

  • http://allanwoodphotography.com Allan Wood

    Paragraph 2. Wrong, plants (which is what trees are) need carbon dioxide (CO2). Basic biology.

    • Romanas Naryškin

      Air is what I wanted to write, thanks, Allan. I am a little ashamed if my silly mistake – it’s proof one should never write articles so late at night.

      Plants do consume oxygen (mostly during the night, and that’s why it’s not advisable to have many flowers in your bedroom), only not as much as CO2, which in this case is probably more relative. Thanks again!

  • http://www.jaycassariophoto.com Jay

    I actually have a section on my website dedicated to his technique…check it out. http://jaycassariophoto.com/bokah-panoramas/

  • Mister Pogi

    I had watched the video from Adorama a little over a year ago. At that time the content was way too advanced for me. It’s funny now I’m trying to learn this method only to find out I had watched that same video.

    I am curious if it’s possible to do this with a 24-70 and using it a 70mm? I probably have to compose my shots differently. I wanted to do the full body one but I think how he composed the one with Mark Wallace would work better for me.

    • Romanas Naryškin

      It’s possible, Pogi, only you will not see nearly as much of the effect even if you stand close – by far, in fact. Even the cheap 50mm f/1.8G lens is much better for Brenizer method!

      You should try and practice, though, it can be great fun :)

      • Mister Pogi

        Thanks for the reply Roman. I have the 50 1.4G. I might try it with that instead. Ever since I got the 24-70 I have never put the 50mm 1.4G on my D800 again.

        What do you think about using the 85mm 1.8G vs the 1.4G?

        • Romanas Naryškin

          Curiously it worked quite differently for me, ever since buying a 50mm lens, I rarely take it off my camera, and when I do, only to replace it with an 85mm f/1.4D, not a zoom. :)

          While there will be difference between the two 85mm lenses at their widest aperture concerning depth of field, 85mm f/1.8G will be quite sufficient and is much cheaper, so unless you feel like you really need the best fast 85mm lens, I’d choose f/1.8G. It’s sharp or sharper and has great bokeh, focuses rather quickly, is cheaper and lighter. Surely a better choice for most photographers.

          Personally, I’m a sucker for f/1.4 lenses and if there’s a way to get one, that’s what I’m going to try to buy eventually. But that’s me, and I’m a little weird. :)

  • Pascal

    Wow is all I can say. I had never heard of this technique until I read your two articles on this site. Ryan truly is a fenominal photographer. That guy is extremely talented and he remains so down to earth. Check out his website for some more stunning images. Amazing!

  • mike

    A little off main topic, but how do you calibrate a fast lens for d7000?

  • Iqbal

    “…any eagle-eyed photographer will be able to tell you’re just trying to fool people by using simple aesthetics, such as bokeh, which has nothing to do with your skills as a photographer, only the lens you’re using. ”
    AND this is my quote of the day. Thumbs up!

    • gav

      So you get this comment every time you take a great picture ‘wow nice lens Iqbal’

      It’s using your imagination to make a unique image, just the same as you may use afternoon light or some other technique….but then again you would probably say ‘your fooling people by using the golden hour to make your pics look better. It has nothing to do with being a good photographer’

      Sometimes it isn’t about analysing technique but more about appreciating a different way to capture an image in an original way.

      • Iqbal

        Comparing golden hour and bokeh is completely not an apple to apple comparison.
        If you have the money, you can get the best glass in the world that gives you the most beautiful bokeh, isolating the subject from poor background, and instantly creates a stunning photograph.
        Even a beginner photographer can do that.
        In the other hand, even if we have the best glass in the world and golden light in front of us, it is much harder to create a good photograph. Besides composition, there are so much to consider: quality of light, contrast difference, creatively correct exposure, etc.
        Again, an eagled-eye photographer can easily recognize that.

        • gav

          Hi Iqbal

          you can pick up a 50mm 1.4d or 85mm1.4d for very cheap

          I do understand your point perfectly, but my point is that it isn’t about fooling people it is using techniques to produce a beautiful photo. We spend too much time analysing pictures and criticising them. Yes, anybody can do this technique and everyone who has a DSLR can afford to as well.

          And of course this still needs all of the above considerations to make it a good photo :-)

  • Prakash

    Thanks for the information on this lovely technique, Roman. I have always loved the square pics of medium format cameras…something to do with more space/environmental context around the subjects, I guess. The rectangular pics from DSLRs seem a bit claustrophobic to me. Now, this method has really allowed me to generate those lovely three dimensional squarish pics from my APS-C DSLR with pixels to match the medium format equipment. And the method to “make” (rather than “take”) these images involves more work than just pushing the shutter button. So, it is quite an artistic feeling at the end of the day. Hope to see more such articles in the future. Keep up the good work.

  • suhazli

    Is this effect just like blur effect on Photoshop albeit this is cleaner?

    • Romanas Naryškin

      Not even comparable, Suhazli. Yo can buy yourself an apple, and you can draw one using Photoshop. The latter is the quicker, cheaper way, but it’s not a real apple. I hope you understand my metaphor :)

  • Anthony

    How do the software programs like Alien Skin Bokeh or even the Lens Effect (?name) Filter in Photoshop compare with this somewhat labor intensive technique? I’d like to see what someone who has mastered that software can do to produce images like Brenizer’s. After all, we are talking about producing blur, albeit pretty blur, which ought to be a lot easier than producing sharpness!

    • Anthony

      Suhazli and I asked the same basic question at the same time..Lens BLUR is what I meant…

    • Romanas Naryškin

      Just like in real life, Anthony, the more you work, the better the result :) Software will never be nearly as precise and I’d never even consider such an approach. In fact, I believe it’s quite a bit more tiring to try to manipulate an image in such a way over stitching a panorama.

      Doing Brenizer panoramas is quite easy – try. :)

      • Anthony

        You may be right, you may be wrong: you’re just speculating (“software will never be nearly as precise…more tiring”).
        We need some facts here, at least the judgement of experts who have tried both! That’s what I’m asking for, perhaps with examples…not armchair reasoning.

    • https://photographylife.com Nasim Mansurov

      Anthony, trying to blur the background and bokeh to an image via software is painful. How are you going to isolate your subjects from the area that you want to blur? Selective masking is often too time consuming. No software will be able to replicate what a good lens can do.

      Lola and I shoot weddings. I cannot imagine trying to “blur” the background of hundreds of images via software. I won’t waste my time in even trying…

  • Anthony

    So do you shoot 9, 16, 25 images and then combine them in Photoshop Photomerge for each of those hundreds? You’re not making sense. You are speculating. I’d love to hear from somebody who has used the software and is good at at it – not me, and apparently not you. What if the software is terrific on any of those hundreds? Try it before you condemn it. I think you’re too young to be an old fart.
    If I told you about content aware fill before you used it, you’d probably say the same thing…let’s hear from somebody who has mastered it and see what they say and can do. Maybe it’s awful, maybe not…
    What does Brenizer know? Maybe he tried it.

    • Romanas Naryškin


      it would be stupid to do hundreds of panoramas per wedding, and even more so – hundreds of fake blurry photos with some clever-ish software.

      We at Mansurovs above all value politeness and respect towards our readers and ourselves – this is not a dpreview forum to go all offensive on anyone, ever. So unless you can change the way you ask questions and react to our answers, you should not bother doing either. We do our best to answer questions patiently, but provoking never helps.

      You asked us a question, and both me and Nasim answered. Neither of us was skeptical, and neither is an old fart – we have enough experience to be able to tell software will be much less effective and practical, because we know how it works and what it does. Background blur, and the strength of it, depends on distance – both how far or close you focused, and how far or close the background is to your subject. Software has no way of calculating how far the background is, and thus how far and where to blur it realistically, for different portions of an image will have to be blurred differently. It can only estimate and make it look relatively accurate. Just as content aware fill does lots of errors, smart as it is, and will never beat one picking up a plate and moving it out of the frame rather than trying to remove it during post, blurring techniques will never come close to using a good lens. If you don’t have one, again, any eagle-eyed photographer will be able to tell you’re just trying to fool everyone by simple, low quality and fake aesthetics. Also, it’s along process, trying to mask you subject, and the slightest error will ruin all your effort immediately.

      There’s another side to this, however, and it’s how high your standards are. If you think tricks like that will satisfy you, and you won’t be able to tell the difference, by all means, go on ahead and use the software – that’s why it’s there, and no one is going to judge. Me, I’m a professional and have no time to play around with it, Brenizer method, when I need it, is a much faster, more reliable and immensely more quality approach than software. Not to mention that it’s not just about Bokeh. I’m sure the software is quite complex and good, but only at certain situations, just like the mentioned content aware is better with some images more so than others. With that in mind, Alien Skin Bokeh will not be close to Brenizer method even if you only consider the shallow depth of field aspect. If it’s good enough for you, again, use it and be happy.

      You asked for our opinion, we answered it – while no one is asking you to share such a point of view and agree with everything we’re saying, respect it or don’t ask again.

      I wish you a good day, Anthony, and hope you don’t take my message offensively – all I’m trying to do is keep this place polite, and such remarks as “get real”, “old fart” and others you’ve used recently don’t help the case. You’ve been an active participant here ever since you joined our community, it would be sad to see you go all berserk like this. Try not to provoke, we will appreciate that.

      • George Kurian

        Roman- we all appreciate you and Nasim and all others for the valuable suggestions and tips. Please don’t be offended by some irresponsible folks. For all of the good readers and supporters of Mansurovs, I apologize to you!

        • Romanas Naryškin

          There’s no need, George, I’m sure Anthony didn’t mean to sound offensive. :) Thank you!

      • http://www.allanwoodphotography.com Allan Wood

        Nicely put.
        Thanks Roman, Nasim and team; keep up your wonderful work.

        • Romanas Naryškin

          Thank you very much, Allan!

          As long as you don’t keep yourself from noticing my mistakes :)

  • http://www.whitepetal.co.uk Paul

    Thanks for this and the sister article, very cool photos and an interesting technique, although somewhat time consuming me thinks?

  • Peng

    Hi Roman,

    I really appreciate all your work and the time and effort you put in writing this article. After I read about the Brenizer method, I’ve tried it and the result has been great!

    First I used Photoshop CS2 to stitch the image but it didn’t do a good job. So I tried again with Photoshop CS3 (from Ryan himself he said he prefers CS3 over CS4 or CS5 … I don’t know why … maybe the software get too complicated at doing this particular job.) Anyway, long story short, CS3 works great and not time consuming as I would expect. And I can guarantee that it’s a lot easier to do Brenizer method than trying to blur the background using just pure software. That’s just my experience. Maybe one day we could have software that could do all the magic work but then what the fun of being a photographer.

    On a side not, I hope to keep this place calm forever too. Cheers!

  • Fraidy

    hi Roman..

    i faces some problem when do this method.. I put toy cars on the table, then I began to shoot that car with Brenizer method.. I did it with tripod and handled…
    the problem is my pic was look like bending… especially the side of the table.. its bending..

    did i do it correct or not.. still confusing…