Tips & Tutorials

How To Blur The Background With Your Camera – 3 Simple Tips

squirrel-background-blurBy Philip Mortimer

One of the most commonly asked questions among beginners is without a doubt, how to blur the background. Your images look more professional, and it makes your subject really stand out.

Luckily, getting a blurry background is one of the easiest things you can do, even if you just bought your first camera!

What Is Blur?

The term “blurring the background” is technically incorrect; blur is something we get when the camera is not stable enough, and so your images do not look sharp. For the sake of this tutorial though, I won’t go into too much detail.

Basically, all you’re going to do is mess with the depth of field; an area of the image that appears in focus.

Aperture Size – Step 1

The most effective way to drastically change the look is to change your aperture size.

  • A big aperture will make your background look much more blurry

Switch your camera to Aperture Value (A/Av) mode and select the lowest possible number. That may be f/5.6, f/4, f/2.8 or even lower! If you already understand the shutter speed, feel free to work in the manual mode.

“The lower the aperture number, the bigger the opening = more background blur. f/2.8 is bigger than f/4, f/5.6 and so on…”.

DSLR cameras perform best when controlled manually, or in semi-manual modes. Point and shoot users may have to spend a few more seconds figuring out where to change the aperture though!

blur-background-18By Shane Garlock | f/1.8

With f/1.8, you can make almost everything appear blurry. The image above was taken with a Nikon 50mm f/1.8G AF-S, a cheap but excellent prime lens.

Subject Distance  – Step 2

If you want to make your background even more out of focus, then there are 2 more options:

  • Increase the distance between your subject and the background.
  • Increase the distance between you and your subject

aperture-8By Óskar Páll Elfarsson | f/8

f/8 is not a big aperture, but how come the background looks so soft? It’s because the photographer used a telephoto lens, meaning the distance between them was huge. Combine that with a background that is far away and you have something like the image above.

What can you do about this? If you have a zoom lens, you can take a few steps back and zoom in as much as possible, and position your subject better.

Best Lenses For Blurry Background – Possible Step 3

Long focal distances will always work best here, so if you’re ready for a telephoto lens, here are two most popular options. Make sure to go out and photograph with your current gear before buying any other equipment!

There are also two extremely popular prime lenses for less than $200. A prime lens has no zoom, but there are lots of advantages; bigger aperture and better image quality. Not to mention they’re usually lighter and cheaper than a zoom with similar focal length!

Make sure to check out the most popular Canon lenses, and same for Nikon.

flower-f2By Lummmy | f/2.0

To sum up, use big apertures and increase the distance between your subject, you and the background. Make sure to focus on their eyes for maximum sharpness, and only invest into a new lens when you’re sure why you are doing it!

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