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Blurred backgrounds for portraits


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#1 Photographa

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 02:45 PM

A beautiful way to bring attention to your subject in portrait shots is to blur the background by adjusting the depth of your focus area.

 

Depth of Field

 

The area of focused objects in your photos is called depth of field. When taking photos of nearby objects you can adjust your aperture to keep a sharp focus right on your subject while keeping the background out-of-focus. It’s important to note that objects must be nearby for a more shallow depth of field. Using a large aperture and focusing on a distant object won’t create a background blur effect. A larger aperture opening creates a shallow depth of field; a smaller aperture opening provides a near-infinite focus. Lower f-stop numbers represent larger aperture openings. Be careful not to open your aperture too large though, as a sliver of field in focus may blur even detail in your subject.

 

The Art of Bokeh

 

While depth of field describes the area in sharp focus in a photo, bokeh is the quality of the unfocused blur at shallow depth of field. Colorful discs of light can make beautiful backgrounds for portrait shots, as seen below:

 

Posted Image

 

The portrait above combines sharp focus on the subject and a beautiful bokeh effect in the background. The aperture of the photo is f/2.8 (1/80 shutter, ISO 1600), and the subject is standing very close to the photographer.


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#2 Sharon

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Posted 11 March 2014 - 11:51 PM

Thank you for sharing this.  I loved how you explained this concept without being too wordy.  As an amateur photographer (photography enthusiast really) I sometimes get intimidated with all the "photography lingo", it's almost like learning a new language sometimes.  I am budgeting for some at the end of this year I aim to purchase a DSLR and would love to have different techniques in mind to practice with.  I wonder if I will be able to use the same technique on my point-and-shoot Samsung WB150F?  I suppose I can play with the settings... I just rely mostly on the auto-focus feature with the setting under "Smart".


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#3 Photographa

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Posted 12 March 2014 - 09:29 AM

Thank you for sharing this.  I loved how you explained this concept without being too wordy.  As an amateur photographer (photography enthusiast really) I sometimes get intimidated with all the "photography lingo", it's almost like learning a new language sometimes.  I am budgeting for some at the end of this year I aim to purchase a DSLR and would love to have different techniques in mind to practice with.  I wonder if I will be able to use the same technique on my point-and-shoot Samsung WB150F?  I suppose I can play with the settings... I just rely mostly on the auto-focus feature with the setting under "Smart".

 

I think that point-and-shoots and smartphones are fantastic for capturing a moment just as it's seen, but DLSRs really open up the possibilities of getting creative to draw attention to something or create something more beautiful than the naked eye can see. For example a shallow depth of field can bring all the attention to the central subject!

 

It's possible to do something like that with a point-and-shoot or a smartphone, and they way you'd do that is bring an object very very close to the lens and focus on it. That really limits you though, you'd have to be very close to your subject. With a DSLR and a wide-aperture lens, I can have a shallow depth of field with an object ten feet away!


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