Massive portraits according to the Brenizer method made from 16 medium format photos

Most portrait photographers are familiar with the Brenizer method for creating massive “bokehramas”, but photographer Steven Schultz takes it a step further by using an entire roll of 120 film to create a single portrait.

For those who may not be familiar, the Brenizer method is a photo stacking and panning process that involves capturing multiple images and stitching them together to create a shallow depth of field in tandem with a wide angle of view. . The method generally requires shots using longer focal lengths in order to create a deeper separation between subject and background.

In this lighthearted six-minute video, Schultz and friends up the ante on previous Brenizer Method film stills and use a Mamiya 645AFD camera with a 150mm f/3.5 (90mm equivalent on a full frame) to attempt to capture a Brenizer portrait using an entire roll of film to create a single portrait.

Shultz and friends say the most frames they’ve typically used in the past were six for portraits and up to nine for landscape photographs, explaining they’ve never attempted anything like this before. and that they thought they had a 50/50 chance. of success. The good news is that other than the batteries drained on the first attempt and the selection of a somewhat “too busy” background, the end results were successful.

After deciding to call the first image a “burn” due to battery failure, they moved on to attempting a few more full roll portraits. Increasing the number of frames for the next two portraits added some complexity to the images that needed to be accounted for, which Shultz sees as a lesson learned for the future. That said, the final images are still impressive even with the slight flaws visible in post-processing.

“I think the depth of the 12 point image really accentuates what I was hoping to achieve by doing this. You really get a sense of the depth when you look at the background versus Joe’s face, all behind him completely obliterated, but when you look at his face, most of his face next to his ears is all in focus,” Shultz says.

“If you were trying to do something like that with maybe an 85mm f/1.2, you might get their sharp eye, but even their nose would be a little blurry and their cheeks would be a little blurry. You’re starting to get an idea now of the benefit of doing something like this, is that you can keep all of your subjects’ faces completely in focus and still get the effect of a totally blown out background.

Not that you actually need to use 12-16 frames to achieve this effect (as the three-take “miss” above proves), but it’s an advantage to try a method like this to creative work.

Brenizer method with a full roll of film

Brenizer method with a full roll of film

See more of Steven’s videos on his YouTube channel and website.


Picture credits: Steven Schultz