Of course, everyone who is interested in photography has seen stunning portrait photographs where the background is blurred, but blurring does not affect the sharpness of the image of the main subject. If everything is done correctly and all conditions are met, it is not so difficult to make such photos, but for beginners it may seem difficult to obtain pleasant portraits with a blurred background, especially if they are not familiar with the appropriate techniques.
And the point is not even to use premium lenses that give you advantages in this technique due to the ability to shoot with the maximum open aperture. Even outside the lens brand, you can get excellent results if you follow some of the tips that professional photographers share in their portrait photography master classes.
Shooting with a blurry background is directly related to such a concept as the depth of field of the image, or simply depth of field.
DOF is the range of space where everything will be sharply in the image. The depth of field can be of very great depth – that is, the whole picture is completely in focus (both foreground and background).
And maybe, on the other hand, it’s very small, literally a few millimeters, which, in fact, provides blurring of the background.
We already wrote about the technical component of the depth of field in the photographic lesson Diaphragm and depth of field in simple language. Today we will talk about something else.
Some digital SLR cameras have a depth of field preview button. Usually it is called DOF preview. When you click on this small button, you can see in the viewfinder that focus area where the sharpness zone will be. But even this improvement is not a panacea. It’s not enough to have knowledge on how to achieve your goal by technical methods, there are several things related to setting the frame itself that will help the photographer get a portrait with such a blurry background that is required by design.
Remember the following recommendations to be aware of how your actions can affect the final result, and the desired effect will serve as a reward for all your efforts.
So how can you get photos with a blurry background with inexpensive optics? What do professionals advise?
The distance between the camera and the subject
Blurring the background depends on how far away you are from the subject. Taking pictures from 10 meters will give a relatively large depth of field. Get closer to the subject
and you significantly reduce this range and get a more blurry background.
The distance between the model and the background
If your subject is close to the background, for example, leaning against a wall, tree, or standing close to something that serves as the background, be prepared for the result to be a photograph with a clearly defined background. Move your subject a little further from the background, literally 3-5 steps from the same brick wall, as soon as it leaves the focus area, and you can get a nice blur. This is clearly visible in portraits shot against the background of flashlights. The closer the model is to the bright bulbs, the more clearly they are visible, the farther you move away from the lights, the softer and more blurry “stars” you can get.
Focal length of the lens
The formula is simple and very effective. When the focal length of the lens increases, the depth of field decreases. Recently, wide-angle lenses have become increasingly popular for portraiture, but this is not due to a better study of the background and the blur effect, rather because the use of the wide-angle gives a slightly new angle to the portrait shoot as a whole.
Traditionally, portrait shooting uses lenses with a focal length of 50 mm. You will get excellent background blur if you shoot with 100 mm lenses. Perhaps the most popular portrait lens is 85 mm. But even telephoto zoom lenses, for example, 70-200, are widely used, and pictures taken with their help are successful.
But the first thing you should still take care of when working with the depth of field is to set the aperture. Using the methods described above, you will be able to improve the pictures, but a lens with the ability to widely open the aperture is the best tool for obtaining a blurred background. Professional photographers have very expensive glasses with f / 1.2 holes in their arsenal, but you can take good photos with less expensive lenses that have an f / 2.8 aperture, for example. The wider the aperture you can open, the greater the depth of field will be available in the photo image.
Use all the resources known and feasible for yourself, then encouraging results will not be long in coming.