What Is A Bokeh Pano?

A “Bokeh Pano” is a stitched panorama, made up from shallow depth of field photos. Taken on a longer (focal length) lens with a large entrance pupil.

 

  • Bokeh = A pleasing blur, or ‘out-of-focus’ rendering

  • Pano / Panorama = Stitched images emulating a wider angle of view


Tip: To assure impressive subject isolation; Get as close to your subject as possible, while keeping as much distance behind it (subject to background). Combine this with using a lens that has a large entrance pupil.


Trick: This technique can allow relatively budget equipment to emulate cameras and/or lenses that (if they existed) would be prohibitively large, heavy & expensive.

Single Image

 

Both of the above samples are focused to the same point and distance. The single image is a fast wide angle lens (35mm f/1.4) and the pano is made up from 45 images shot on a longer focal length fast lens (135mm f/1.8). Each lens is set to its widest aperture.

 

The first example below shows individual frames of the 'Bokeh Pano' arranged by hand. The second example shows the images projected in a manor that attempts to correct perspective distortion for the automatic stitching (emulating a rectilinear, rather than fisheye lens). The blue box indicates the crop you see above to emulate the image from the 35mm angle of view.

Manual Stitch 2c.jpg
Manual Stitch 2d.jpg

Why?

Using this technique enables you to combine wide angles with extremely shallow depth of field. This isolation can highlight your subject (or a specific part of it) whilst keeping the context of your scene.


How?

A batch of generously overlapping images (usually multiple rows) are taken of a scene, from the same position. Software then analyses elements from each frame to align the batch automatically.

When?

Since it can take a while to shoot the whole batch of images for your panorama, there are some points to consider when it comes to planning your shoot. The limitations can seem severe, but the benefits can be so impressive that it’s worth trying to work around
them.

Benefits

  • Emulating Impossibly Large Lenses

  • Ultimate Subject Isolation

  • Extreme Image Quality

  • Budget lenses achieving extreme results

  • Drastically Reduced Noise (see below)

Limitations

  • Mostly For Static subjects (or that can stay still)

  • Mostly for smallish subjects and close focusing

  • Large Learning Curve (hopefully this guide can help)

  • Time Consuming & Challenging Process (Workflow)

  • Partially Overcast (changeable) lighting problematic

  • Direct Sunlight Problematic (shutter speed limits)

  • May Inspire GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome)

  • Possible Extra Gear Needed (due to higher workload)

Quick Start Guide

I am pretty impatient, so I understand not wanting to wade through pages of text to start seeing results. Experimenting with photography can be fun, so if you just want to get started - this section is for you...

Preparation

  • Choose your equipment (here)

  • Choose a subject (not too large, <5 m)

  • Look for good space behind your subject

  • Find a background that looks good blurred

  • Choose your shooting position

  • Find a comfortable & stable position

  • Visualise your final frame

Settings

  • Focus on your subject

  • Expose for your subject

  • Lock your focus

  • Set the aperture wide open (lowest f-stop)

  • Lock your shutter speed

  • Lock your ISO

  • Lock your White Balance

  • Turn IS on in low light (if you have it)

Shooting

  • Choose how to move between shots

  • Shoot images with around 50% overlap

  • Try to rotate around the nodal point, or...

  • Use tripod w/nodal head to assure rotation

  • Make sure to cover the corners

  • Try to hold still between shots

Processing

  • Remove vignetting (if possible)

  • Process the batch of images

  • Output result from the stitching software

  • Crop

  • Add vignetting

  • Fine-tune the colours (if needed)

Frame Sizes.jpg
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