PREPARATION

Choosing A Subject

After picking a lens (go here If you haven't), the next thing to do is go looking for a suitable subject. Taking 30 shots of a subject is going to take you at least 15 seconds and so you'll need something that doesn't move, at least too much. People make a great subject, but they're gonna have to hold still for a little while. The next thing to consider is size. Larger apertures will allow you to push the focus distance up a little while retaining the extreme effect. If you're looking to push the effect as much as possible however, try looking for smaller subjects (chair sized rather than truck sized) and shooting them as close as possible.

Composition

Like all images; composition is an extremely important aspect of your final stitch. So try to remember that the basics still apply here. The problem is that you won't be able to easily picture your final frame until working with you image in post. You also can't see how your background blur makes your subject feel in the field (when setting up your composition). This will require experimentation and educated guesswork early on, but will eventually lead to experience and great results. 

 

This technique makes it possible to draw great attention to the subject through extreme depth isolation. Something that the fastest wide angle lenses on the planet would be jealous of. This can provide stunning results when dealing with subjects detail, as long as it can fit into a thin focal plane. It's hard to visualise but it's worth trying.

Framing & Visualisation

With a longer lens on your camera it can be difficult to visualize the wider scene that you're aiming for with this technique. Here are a few ways that you can visualise your final image (with some pros and cons).

ANOTHER CAMERA

  • Can take wider images

  • More to carry

  • Fiddly to use while holding main camera

A PHONE

  • You'll likely have it with you

  • FoV may not be wide enough

  • Fiddly to use while holding main camera

A VIEWFINDER

  • Nice and small

  • Fits on your camera

  • Can be expensive

 

I've tried all of these different options at some point, but ultimately chose a rangefinder viewfinder. I initially bought a cheap 35mm Voigtlander from ebay, but that wasn't really wide enough for the 85mm lens (better for the 135mm). Then one day saw a good deal on a used Leica 24mm and thought that it was a much better angle for the panoramas I like to shoot. The size and convenience of these are great, but another nice bonus is that they can fit into the camera's flash hot-shoe and this way you don't need to carry an extra item.

Choosing FoV & Focus Distance

Whatever you're using a viewfinder to visualise the final frame it will help to stick to that. Shoot a bit extra to cover the corners but as a general rule this will help you achieve the ideal distance to the subject. Although you won't get a good idea of the final depth of field until you're in the processing stage, the closer you get the more effect you'll achieve.

Focus Distnace = 10m  /  Full Frame Equivalent = 85mm f/1.2

Focus Distnace = 5m  /  Full Frame Equivalent = 60mm f/0.85

Focus Distnace = 2m  /  Full Frame Equivalent = 33mm f/0.47

Whatever you're using to visualise the final frame it will help to stick to that. Shoot a bit extra to cover the corners but as a general rule this will help you achieve the ideal distance to the subject. Although you won't get a good idea of the final depth of field until you're in the processing stage, the closer you get the more effect you'll achieve.

Edward Noble

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