Creating a Panoramic Portrait in Photoshop Elements

Share

Not long ago, we brought Ryan Brenizer into the B&H studios to talk about the Brenizer Method. This technique involves taking numerous photos in a panoramic portrait and stitching them together in Photoshop. However, you don't necessarily need Photoshop to stitch the photos together as this can be done with Photoshop Elements. As we've stated before in our posting on Minor Retouching, many of the features that most people need and use can be done with the more affordable option.

What I'm Using:

Canon 5D Mk II

85mm F/1.8

Apple 13" Macbook

Photoshop Elements

Shooting the Photos

This is my second attempt at doing a panoramic portrait; the first time I achieved a pretty good result, but it just wasn't perfect enough for me. Each time I did this, I shot around 40-50 photos. Shooting vertically, my method was to first capture the photo of Josh, and then fill in the background around him to create an entire scene.

My camera was set to manual exposure mode, and I kept the same exposure settings throughout the session, to maintain consistency for when I would stitch the images together. I started the session with autofocusing on Josh's face, switching off autofocus, then continuing to shoot. The reason why you should switch off autofocus is because when you stitch the photo together, you want to have only one area of the stitched photo in focus. If various areas are in and out of focus, you'll have a very weird image that doesn't look natural at all. The whole point of these panoramic portraits is to create an image that looks natural.

Stitching

To do the stitching, you first need to open up Photoshop Elements and click on File. Then hover over New and click on Photomerge. A new interface will come up. Click on 'Reposition Only' on the left panel, and then click on Browse to select all the images you want to have in the stitched image. Photoshop Elements will take a little while to stitch the photos together.

In the case of the second photo that I shot, I didn't get a result that I liked a lot so, in order to gain more control, I chose the interactive layout option, and manually placed the images into their respective spots. That's making a long story short, though: I started working on the image at 9:30 AM and didn't finish until 3:30 PM. Thankfully, Photoshop Elements detects similar areas from the images, and is able to stitch them together to look as if they're all part of the puzzle.

Keep in mind that I've seen Ryan accomplish this effect fairly easily. The problems that I encountered could have been because of Photoshop Elements (I'm using an older version), the fact that I shot so many images, and various other factors.

Touch Ups

Once I created an image that I felt I could work with, I took it into the canvas and flattened the layers immediately. This way, the rendering process would be a lot quicker.

Now came the tedious work: the touch ups. I had to manually recreate certain areas in the sidewalk, the buildings, and the sky by using the clone stamp, and even manually painting things in. There was a lot of fine detail that needed to be kept in mind too: like the lines in the sidewalk, the colors, how much light was hitting each area, etc.

When doing critical work like this, it's best to work in layers because mistakes can be easily corrected, gotten rid of, etc. As you progress and you feel like you're getting closer to your final image, you can merge layers down.

And a lifesaving tip: Always save your progress—and save often.

There were some things that I couldn't fix, but upon second look, and when running it by co-workers, I accepted as cool effects.

Once I was finished, I was able to crop out enough of the image to create something that I'd be proud to give to a client.

Have you done the Brenizer Method before? If you have, let us know what you think of it, and please share your photos with us in our Flickr Group.

Add new comment

 Hmmm... I asked before in the other thread and am still curious... bottom line, how is the end result different than selectively warping and blurring areas of a wide shot? Seems like an awful lot of work for and end result that could be achieved with a single shot and about 15mins of post work. 

I'm not saying it's not an interesting approach, just saying the end result doesn't look all that much different than what could be achieved without all the extra frames. 

Got a link to some other examples that more clearly show how this "Brenizer Method." is significantly different than plain ol' selective blurring, etc.? I'm certain I've gotta be wrong about this, and want this to be something interesting to try... but I'm just not seeing it. What am I missing here?

Skip Hunt wrote:

 Hmmm... I asked before in the other thread and am still curious... bottom line, how is the end result different than selectively warping and blurring areas of a wide shot? Seems like an awful lot of work for and end result that could be achieved with a single shot and about 15mins of post work. 

I'm not saying it's not an interesting approach, just saying the end result doesn't look all that much different than what could be achieved without all the extra frames. 

Got a link to some other examples that more clearly show how this "Brenizer Method." is significantly different than plain ol' selective blurring, etc.? I'm certain I've gotta be wrong about this, and want this to be something interesting to try... but I'm just not seeing it. What am I missing here?

Hi Skip,

Thanks for the comment and for reading the article.

To give you a short answer that could be made pages longer, if you do this the correct way it can be a lot less work than my approach to it. Also selective blurring doesn't look like real bokeh to a trained eye (just as an untrained eye wouldn't be able to tell that this was a panorama stitch), especially with the way that it treats highlights. Lastly, it's also a compression and perspective issue. A photo taken with a wide angle lens and then selectively blurred won't look the same as ones shot with a telephoto lens and then stitched together.

Ryan's method is more efficient than mine. I went this route, as stated in the article, because I wasn't happy with what I was getting from Photoshop Elements. It was mixing and matching pieces that really didn't belong together.

I hope this helps. I've seen the results of selective blurring using the Diorama art filter on my Olympus EP-2 with 17mm F/2.8 and I've also seen selective blurring in online tutorials. The same look can't be duplicated or at least I haven't seen it yet.

Chris Gampat wrote:

Skip Hunt wrote:

 Hmmm... I asked before in the other thread and am still curious... bottom line, how is the end result different than selectively warping and blurring areas of a wide shot? Seems like an awful lot of work for and end result that could be achieved with a single shot and about 15mins of post work. 

I'm not saying it's not an interesting approach, just saying the end result doesn't look all that much different than what could be achieved without all the extra frames. 

Got a link to some other examples that more clearly show how this "Brenizer Method." is significantly different than plain ol' selective blurring, etc.? I'm certain I've gotta be wrong about this, and want this to be something interesting to try... but I'm just not seeing it. What am I missing here?

Hi Skip,

Thanks for the comment and for reading the article.

To give you a short answer that could be made pages longer, if you do this the correct way it can be a lot less work than my approach to it. Also selective blurring doesn't look like real bokeh to a trained eye (just as an untrained eye wouldn't be able to tell that this was a panorama stitch), especially with the way that it treats highlights. Lastly, it's also a compression and perspective issue. A photo taken with a wide angle lens and then selectively blurred won't look the same as ones shot with a telephoto lens and then stitched together.

Ryan's method is more efficient than mine. I went this route, as stated in the article, because I wasn't happy with what I was getting from Photoshop Elements. It was mixing and matching pieces that really didn't belong together.

I hope this helps. I've seen the results of selective blurring using the Diorama art filter on my Olympus EP-2 with 17mm F/2.8 and I've also seen selective blurring in online tutorials. The same look can't be duplicated or at least I haven't seen it yet.

Thanks for the reply Chris. Hmmm.... I guess I'll just have to try it for myself. I've messed aroud quite a bit compressing and warping large spaces into one scene using iPhone images and apps. Not so much to play with brokeh and space as you're doing here. And I looked at some of Ryan's work and saw interesting effects, but on closer inspection I just didn't feel they were that much different in terms of what you can do in post. 

However, the interesting effects you can get while using stitching for other than the typical panoramic shots is definitely useful. Like I said, been playing with bending and squashing space with this method for awhile now, but only with the iPhone and stitching apps. There are a few in this gallery of images I made in Mexico a few months ago: http://www.kaleidoscopeofcolor.com/galleria/mexico-2011-winter/

To be clear, I can tell a differece for sure. And it's in line with what I've already been doing. I'm heading back to Mexico to travel for a few weeks in a few days and wanted to do some experimenting beyond what I've already done. I'm only going to be traveling with an iPhone 4 and a compact Olympus XZ-1 and travelblogging it here: http://www.kaleidoscopeofcolor.com/mexico-2011-pt2/

Thanks for the info and article! I was digging for more specifics to apply to continue my own experimentation. :-)