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Saw a couple of posts indicating you're into stitched portraits. I have to ask...what's the point? If you want a larger image, why not use your Phase? If you want more background in the frame, why not use a wider lens (or back up)? Would love to hear the reasoning. Thanks Zack.

I’m currently shooting a series of portraits for a new editorial client. I can share images and all of that once the magazine hits the shelves. The story is currently slated for October. I say that to say… I can’t talk about the assignment but it’s important to know why I’m stitching portraits.

So I’m shooting portraits of people in their spaces. My creative direction is to shoot vertical and give as much negative space as possible. I need to shoot loose so they have cropping options when it comes time to use these images in the layout.

So. Shoot vertical. Check. Negative space. Check. Shoot loose. Check.

That’s great until I get in a 10’x10’ room with 9’ ceilings. My go to is to go W-I-D-E but that can diminish the person in the frame. Add to that I only have a really wide lens for my Fuji. I still need to shoot loose and give room to crop. These are most likely running full page and I’m willing to give up 20% of the Fuji resolution for crop but not much more. So we have diminished subjects and distortion and throwing away resolution to crop. Errr. I don’t want any of that.

This is also my first assignment for this magazine. A magazine, I might add, who hires Dan Winters on a regular basis. Uh… Yeah. So I want to really knock it out of the park since this is also a six portrait feature. I’m shooting this on my Phase or nothing else. The widest lens I have for my Phase is a 55mm. It’s about a 35mm equivalent on the IQ140 back. I love this lens but it’s not *that* wide. Back to the 10x10 room.

I love the perspective of the 55mm but I need it to have a wider field of view. I want it (the camera) to “see” the room, and subject, as it is but grab more around the edges.

I’m standing there with the Fuji in my hand ready to make the compromise and shoot 14mm when I remembered a blog post by Rick Wenner from some time ago. He talked about shooting a few frames and stitching it together ala Art Streiber and Joey L. I remember hearing Art Streiber talk about stitching portraits. I remember seeing some prints by Joey L some years back from one of his personal projects that were stitched portraits. All these little bits of info suddenly popped forward in my brain and I thought… That’s it! I’ll stitch!

So… never having done it, I put my Phase on a tripod, shot the main part of the portrait, and then moved the camera around the edges some more to grab some more environment. I’m not using anything close to a pano head but it is geared so that maybe helped me a bit. I was saying the photographer’s prayer of “Oh please let this work.”

I got back to the studio from the first shoot, threw that stuff into Photoshop’s photomerge process and…. boom. It worked. Prayer answered. Focal length I wanted. Resolution I wanted. More than enough room to crop. I mean, I’m talking 24” x 24” at 300 dpi images that have MORE than enough room for crops without interpolation. Without compromise. 

I said it on IG today. It freaks me out. I know my gear. I know my glass. I know what it looks like. Yet… I look at a finished stitch and I don’t own that glass. I don’t own that camera. It’s producing something that my gear can’t do.

So. Adapt to the situation at hand. Pull from little bits of information stuck in random parts of your brain. See also Brenizer method for a different take on the same thing. Just different. Also take a look at what Sam Hurd is doing with stitching portraits.

So… that’s the reasoning behind it for me. Wider field of view is my concern. Not shallower depth of field…. nor is it for larger image file because at the end of the day, the magazine will be throwing resolution away for their needs. 

That said… I turned my 40MP back into a 120MP back and I really want to get some 100% prints done from these images. 

I’ve now been testing this process. Still working in Photoshop CC. Hearing about a number of other ways to do this. Here’s one of my lovely wife I shot tonight. Overshot this a bit but it worked. 16 Phase One images with an 80mm 2.8 lens. (50mm equiv).

image

Cheers,
Zack 

PS - Meg is lit with a 40 watt bulb in a clamp light. #ProWork :)

70 Notes

  1. surfchick5am said: Stunning. She is beautiful.