A Little Help From My Friends?

I have something that I am stumped on. I’ve had a couple of friends tell me they shoot this way and I have seen some “big name” photographers that I have a lot of respect for talk about this. This refers to taking two photos with a slightly longer lens and stitching them together instead of one photo from the same position with a shorter lens.

I am not referring to the “Brenizer Method” of taking a series of photos on location with a long lens and stitching those together to make it look like a wide angle photo with limited depth of field. You can see that in this article from FStoppers. The photos I am referring to are usually made in a studio situation with a plain seamless backdrop.

They talk about the difference in “compression” between the shorter and longer lens. Something about one of these (the longer lens images stitched together) having more impact and intimacy. And this is where I get lost. The “compression” effect comes from the distance between the camera and the subject. All lenses have the same perspective from the same camera position. They just magnify more (longer lens) or magnify less (the shorter lens). If you take the image with each lens without moving the camera and crop them the same the scene will look the same. The perspective is the same in the area of the images that are common to each other. The only difference I can imagine is that when you pan the longer lens side to side for the two photos the camera is at a slightly different angle, but not enough to be all that noticeable.

The top image was made at 70mm with the camera horizontal. The lower images were made at 106mm with the camera vertical.

The top image was made at 70mm with the camera horizontal. The lower images were made at 106mm with the camera vertical.

I’ve tried it myself and don’t see any super noticeable differences between the images to make the process of photographing the scene (usually a portrait) twice and then aligning layers in Photoshop. Here are some images where I tried this.

My camera was firmly locked down on a tripod and I made the first image at 70mm with the camera horizontal. Then, without changing the distance I changed the focal length to 106mm and rotated the camera on axis to vertical and took the next two photos, panning the camera a little bit left and right to capture the width of the single 70mm capture.

I then brought the images into Photoshop. There I had the two 106mm images in one document on two layers. I used Auto Align Layers to merge them together into one wider image, then flattened the image.

Next I brought the 70mm image into the same Photoshop document on its own layer and again used Auto-align layers to size them the same. And here are the two results…


Single capture at 70mm

Single capture at 70mm

Two captures at 106mm stitched to create one composite image.

Two captures at 106mm stitched to create one composite image.

Here are the two photos in a slider. On the left is the photo made with the shorter lens. On the right is the photo created by stitching together the two image from the longer lens. The only difference I see is at the bottom of the image and I think that has something to do with the centering of the lens and the act of rotating the camera from horizontal to vertical. I see no difference in the face of the subject.

 
 

Those of you who use this technique, what am I leaving out or doing wrong? Can you send me a set of images where one was made with the shorter lens and the other is made from longer lens images stitched together where you can clearly see the difference?

Thanks!
John