Monday, February 16, 2015

Photography Tip: Depth of Field & The Blurred Background

How do you take a photo where the background, or part of the photo, is blurred? 

 An important word to know is APERTURE.    It is the amount of light that is let through your lens and acts like the pupil of your eye.   In low light, your pupil will become larger to allow more light in.  Our 50 mm lens is f/1.4.  The lower the f number, the higher the aperture and larger the opening.    Most kit lenses that come with your camera are probably f/3.5-5.6.

I almost always shoot in Aperture Priority (AV mode on my camera). This means that I can control aperture and ISO.  I love shooting at higher apertures. Why?  Not only can I shoot in lower light but the lower your f number, the less depth of field you have.  This means that you focus on a smaller area and the background or area around the subject will be blurry.  

Look at the ponies in comparison to the background.  Lower f numbers create a shallow field of view.

A good rule of thumb is that the f number should be close to the number of people that you are photographing to get them all in focus.  

3 people=f/2.8 to f/4.0

Also, the further the subject is from the background, the blurrier the background will be.

I often like to capture wedding details at higher apertures to focus on just that object.  Here are some examples:

{Here the background AND foreground are blurred to focus on the bracelet}

So, there's your tip of the week!  If you'd like to create a focal point in your photo by creating a shallow depth of field, get those f numbers as low as they can go and have your subject further from their background.  If you have a Canon, aperture priority is called Av and for those with a Nikon it's A.

If you have any questions, ask away!



  1. Elissa was trying to teach me this while we were at the San Diego zoo, but she couldn't figure out my Canon! Hopefully this will help me get it, otherwise I will keep waiting patiently for you to teach another class :)

  2. Natalia Baelde10:53 PM

    You've taught classes? I would totally come. Please let me know next time you have one.