One of the most stunning photography effects, particularly effective in portrait photography, is to have the subject in crisp focus while the background appears blurred. It really helps to make the subject stand out even more, and the contrast gives the images a beautiful dreamy feel to them.
If you’re new to photography and have always believed that this effect is hard to achieve, then you may be surprised to find out that with a bit of knowledge and enough practice, it’s actually fairly easy.
And you don’t need a ton of professional kit either, just a standard DSLR or equivalent and your pictures will be looking professional in no time. Here’s how to get that nice blur effect in your images.
Get Out of Auto
The first thing you’re going to have to do is to switch your camera out of auto mode and take back control of the reigns. The reason for this is that even though auto mode will allow you to take some decent images, the camera decides which settings to use for the best results in each given situation.
While in many instances this is fine, because it’s not really possible for the camera to choose your subject, it can’t opt to blur out the background as it has no way to differentiate. Instead it will try and get as much of what’s in the viewfinder in focus as possible.
Take Control of the Aperture Value
There are a couple of options here to get you out of auto mode and in control of your aperture value, also known as f stop settings. The first is to switch to full manual where you’ll be in control of everything. This is great if you have a little more understanding of how shutter speed and ISO will affect your images as you’ll need to adjust these to compensate for the light conditions.
However, if you’re not entirely sure or just want to make it as basic as possible then instead put your camera in Aperture Priority mode. This is marked by an “A” or Av” on your camera’s dial. Aperture priority mode will allow the camera to choose the correct settings for a proper exposure based on the light, but allow you to control the aperture value.
You need to use a wide aperture, which a little confusingly will correspond to a low number around f/3 or below. This will create a shallow depth of field which means only the subjects in the foreground will remain in focus and perfectly crisp.
Put Distance Between Your Subject and Background
Another trick to emphasize the blur and differentiate the background from the subject is to put some distance between the two. This may not always be possible, but if you’re taking a portrait for example and you want the subject in front of a house, move as far away from the house as possible, create a bit more distance between yourself and your subject, and zoom in on them.