Depth of field refers to the amount of photo in focus. One reason many people purchase a DSLR camera is to blur their backgrounds with ease. Creating a creamy, blurred background helps a subject “pop” or stand out from the background. The following tips will help you create this desired blur.
Gain an understanding of aperture
Aperture is the term for the size of the lens opening. The smaller the f-stop number, the bigger the aperture. The larger the f-stop number, the smaller the aperture. This means that a f/2 aperture is letting in a lot more light than a f/16 aperture. The more light you let into the camera, the shallower the depth of field you’ll produce. Choose a small f-stop number to blur your background.
Get out of auto mode
You can’t select the f-stop number when you’re shooting in auto mode. If you’re most comfortable shooting in auto mode, switch to aperture priority or AV mode. You’ll select the aperture and allow the camera to choose the other settings. As you grow more confident selecting camera settings, transition to manual mode for full control of your images.
Move your subject away from the background
When your subject is positioned really close to the background, it may be difficult to blur the background. For example, if your daughter is standing right in front of a grove of trees, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to blur the trees without blurring your daughter. Move her a few feet forward from the trees to blur the trees, keeping your daughter in sharp focus.
Stand further back and then zoom in on your subject
When you’re shooting with a zoom lens, experiment with standing further back from your subject and then zooming in with the lens. You’ll narrow the frame, putting all the focus on the subject, minimizing distortion, and blurring the background. Try taking a photo with f/2.8 aperture at 70mm. Then take the same photo with f/2.8 aperture at 200mm, and observe the differences in the background in the two images.
It will take practice to find the right balance with standing back and zooming in on the subject. For example, when you’re shooting with f/2.8 and 200mm from five feet away, the background will be fully blurred. In comparison, when you’re shooting with f/2.8 and 200mm from 50 feet away, the background will largely be in focus.
Which lenses are best for creating a blurry background?
It’s possible to create a shallow depth of field and produce a blurry background with any DSLR lens. In general, it’s easier to create a blurred background with a prime lens than a zoom lens unless you’re shooting with a high-end zoom lens, such as the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II. If you’re brand new to shooting with prime lenses, pick up a 50 f/1.8mm or 85 f/1.8mm lens. When you’re ready to upgrade, the Sigma 50 f/1.4mm ART DG HSM, Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II, or Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS.