Photographer Steven Shultz has been experimenting with the Brenizer Method on digital cameras for years, but as he shot more movies throughout 2021, he decided to see if there was a way to mix this method up with his Mamiya. 645AFD.
The Brenizer Method
The Brenizer method, also known as “bokehrama” or panorama bokeh, is a technique that was originally developed by photographer Ryan Brenizer to allow digital photographers to mimic the look of a medium format photo using cheaper cameras with smaller sensors. By stitching together a set of multiple photos taken from a scene, a photographer can greatly increase the resolution of a final stitched image as well as the perceived depth.
Brenizer Medium Format Film Method?
Shultz is a Chicago, Illinois-based photographer and podcaster who shoots digitally and has been a fan of the Brenizer method for years, but has recently turned more to film.
“I fell in love with the slower process of shooting, developing and scanning,” he told PetaPixel. “I work in a photo studio with a group of my friends and we all shoot together. Everyone is so encouraging and collaborative, and we often come up with different ideas that we want to experiment with. »
It was from this environment that Shultz wondered if a fusion of the digital Brenizer method could be achieved with medium format film.
“One day I realized that using my Mamiya 645AFD to do a Brenizer portrait might actually be a viable option,” he says.
Even though the original goal of the Brenizer method was to mimic medium format, Schultz says the idea of using the technique but from a medium format camera was something he wanted to explore.
“Beginning the Brenizer process with a real medium format camera fascinated me, as I wondered what stitching together a bunch of medium format photos would look like. I honestly didn’t know what to expect, or even if it would work, but I’m very happy with the results.
Not without challenges
Schultz says taking the photos wasn’t the hardest part, it was post-production where the challenges arose.
“Panoramic stitching in Lightroom was tricky, even when I cropped the images and attempted to blend them in the same way I do for my Brenizer digital portraits,” he says.
“Lightroom wanted to stitch together the full, uncropped image I show in the video. I then tried exporting them as TIFFs, re-importing them, and stitching them together, but the colors and contrast blended together so strange once the panorama is finished,” he explains.
“The final process I landed on was exporting them to JPEG, importing them back to JPEG, and merging them into a panorama.”
The resulting images were limited in resolution, likely by the method by which the film was digitally digitized using a mirrorless digital camera. Schultz says the process of scanning and cropping around the edges in order to convert the negative changed the resolution from what it could be. It should also be noted that the method only uses parts of each photo for the panorama to create the final photo, not the entirety of each negative, which also affects the final resolution.
Still, the photos aren’t small: the largest he took is 15,404 pixels in diameter, while more square format photos are usually around 9,697 by 9,606 pixels.
A fun, if impractical project
While it’s a fun project that stems from a “what if” mentality, Schultz acknowledges that while he thinks he’d like to experiment more with the process, it’s not something that would work out. large scale.
“I really want to experiment more, but I don’t think it will become a regular part of my workflow because it’s time consuming and can be hit or miss,” he says. “But it was so fun to try something new. I think I’ll use it again for specific concept images where I want a lot of resolution and depth, and I’d also like to compare this side-to-side side with the large format, which I am very interested in shooting.”
Schultz says regardless, he thinks it was worth it just for the sake of trying something new.
“At the very least, I think anyone could have fun trying it out once!” However, you definitely don’t have to start with a medium format film. If you have a 35mm film camera (or any digital camera, for that matter!), it’s just a cool technique to learn,” he says. “I think a lot of the fun of photography is experimenting with new techniques and trying different things, even if they don’t work or aren’t very practical. You never know where new inspiration may strike!
Picture credits: Photos by Steven Schultz.