One of coolest things about photography is the ability to experiment with the images. I love trying out new things when taking the shots, and I also love playing around with the images in post-production. The best situation, though, is having a clear idea of what I want to try produce and having it involve the entire process.
My planet photos are one example. They aren’t something to try on a whim, especially because I like to include an additional twist of combining multiple exposure processing.
To take a planet shot, like this one, I have to find the right location. In this instance, I’m on top of one of the parking garages in downtown Lincoln, Nebraska.
Then I have to find the right spot in that location, and I need to make sure that everything around will fit within a frame. For example, I don’t want the tops of buildings cut off. It also helps to have the right conditions on the day. I’ll be taking multiple exposures in a 360 degree rotation, so the skies should be relatively calm and I can’t really have a lot of people or vehicles moving around.
I have to calculate how many images I’ll need to go all the way around.
Finally, I have to take the shots quickly so I can maintain as much consistency in the environment as possible.
And all of that is just half of the process. After the shots are taken, they need to be processed, then stitch into a panorama, and then “warped” to create the “planet.”
Planet shots like this one are some of the most time consuming images I create, but the results are worth it.
The next step I want to take this is to incorporate a portrait into the planet.
I have grand plans for a bride and groom standing on a tiny planet. It will just take the right couple willing to experiment and, perhaps more importantly, enough time on the day of the shoot to set it all up.
Another technique I’ve recently started to play with also involves a bit of planning, the taking of many shots, and then combining those shots into one image.
It’s a technique “invented” by another photographer, Ryan Brenizer, and the end results can be magical.
Last weekend I went on a shoot with a couple of my favorite models, bellydancers Morgan and Hallie. We decided to venture into Wyuka Cemetery, where some of the really old grave markers make for a lot of interesting backgrounds.
Since I’ve shot with the both of them quite a lot, I have a little bit of leeway when it comes to asking them to indulge my experiments. They agreed to let me set each of them up to try out the “Brenizer Method.”
The image of Morgan featured here was the result of stitching 78 images together.
Yes, you read that right. 78 photographs.
Each image was a close up. So, for example, one shot might be just Morgan’s head and shoulders. The next shot might be her shoulders and mid-section. And so on. Each of these 78 images were then stitched together like any other panorama, except instead of creating a wide vista of some landscape, it created a full-body portrait of Morgan.
Morgan was a champ and did her best to hold still for the shots. However, it didn’t really take as long as you might suspect.
I can’t say the same thing for stitching the images together, though.
Why would I do this, you ask? Because there’s simply no other way to get that amount of dreamy background blur in a normal full-body portrait like this. Had I pulled back far enough to get this same field of view in one shot, the background simply wouldn’t have been as blurry.
To me, there is something about narrow area of focus that makes this technique so magical. It’s an impossible image to achieve in just one shot. And for me, that end result is well worth any time spent.
I just wanted to share a couple of the specialty techniques that I love to play around with. I don’t always have time for endeavors such as these, but when the opportunity presents itself, I like to include surprises like these for my clients whenever possible.