How to get that Blurry Background Photograph
This week I’ll show you how to get that blurry out of focus background look.
By this I mean a shallow depth of focus where the subject is in focus and the background smoothly falls out of focus.
When DSLR’s first started doing video, this was all the rage. In movies, when you have a closeup, it usually is shot on a lens that will give you this effect. And in photography, it has been around for years. You’ve just got to know how to set up your camera to get it.
These are the different ways to get the effect, but when you combine them, you can really get the effect working in your favour.
Now I am not going to go into the science behind this because I’d be here for hours, I’m just going to quickly go over what you need to know to get this effect working for you, when you want it.
If you have a lens with a really low F number, you can get the background out of focus quite easily. The nifty fifty from canon is your cheapest way into this, but if you have a cropped sensor, this lens will feel a little narrow on the focal length.
Basically, set your camera to aperture priority and get the f number as low as possible. Focus on your subject and then take the photo.
If you have a kit lens with an f-stop of 4.5-5.6, it’ll be harder to get the blurry background just using this, but keep watching as there are ways around this.
With a zoom lens, if you zoom right in on your subject, you can isolate them from the background. What ever the longest lens in your arsenal is, get it on your camera, or if you have a bridge camera zoom right in.
If you have your distances between you and the subject and the subject and the background right, when you focus on the subject, you’ll notice the background will drop out of focus.
If you only have a wide angle lens at around f4 or above, you’ll find it harder to get the blurriness.
3.Distance from your subject and the background
If your subject is really far away, you’ll find it almost impossible to isolate them from the background. But if they are close to you, and further away from the background you can focus in on them. The further they are away from the infinity distance on your lens and the closer they are to you, them more you can make the background blurry. Once they get too close, you’ll start to lose them outside of the frame, but with a little repositioning, you can get this effect working for you.
If you can’t get close to your subject and they are close to the background you’ll find it hard to get the blurriness.
The sensor size doesn’t really effect the amount of blurriness you can get, however, it effects the focal length you need to use to get a certain framing and the distance you can be from the subject to get the same frame for any given focal length. I.e. to get the subject framed the same for a given focal length, you’d have to get them closer to you….this in turn makes it easier to separate them from the background.
I’ll show you this with the crop setting on the sony camera. If I take a photograph with the 24-70mm at 50mm on the full frame setting then keep the camera exactly where it is and crop in with the 35mm setting, the depth of focus won’t change, so if you look at these images side by side, you can see that the background is the same in each image….however, when I zoom out to get the same framing…..or walk backwards to get the same framing, I’m basically changing the focal length I’m shooting at or I’m distancing myself from the subject…..and from the points already mentioned, we know this effects how blurry the background gets.
So even though the sensor size doesn’t change the blurriness, it changes the factors that effect the blurriness.
These four points work in conjunction with each other. So use just one, and you might get a subtle blurriness, use all four and you can get the background really blurred out. Now, how much you want is up to you.
Whereas If I have a small sensor camera, shoot wide, with a small aperture and put myself close to the background. It won’t work at all.
So to get the blurry background:
- get your camera into aperture priority
- Zoom in on your subject
- Makes sure your subject is close to you and there is a good distance between the subject and the background (this may take a bit of experimentation)
- Focus on your subject
- Take a photo
If you use all of the four factors mentioned earlier, you can get some lovely photos:
If you have a smaller sensor, you can still get this effect but the first three points will become more important. Get close to your subject, bring them away from the background, get the camera in aperture priority and drop the f number as low as possible and zoom in on the subject. Because of the crop factor, you subject will have to be further away from you to get the framing you want, but you can still get the out of focus background.
And that’s about it. If you have interchangeable lenses on your camera, think about buying a 35mm or a 50mm lens with a really low f-stop (as low as you can afford), the lower the f number is, the more expensive the lens tends to be so get saving your hard earned cash. Although, there are some great budget lenses out there. Like the canon nifty fifty as mentioned earlier or the sony 50mm 1.8. Also you could try vintage lenses. I have a canon FD 50mm 1.4 which cost me about £80. With an adapter, I can get some lovely looking images.
If you have a bridge camera, get your f stop low, zoom in and bring your subject away from the background. Then you too can get this effect….if that’s what you want!!