Having a subject in sharp focus and the background blurred out in a picture or video gives any image that added professionalism and nicer look. Because of this, the question of how to achieve this look is something I get asked a lot so I thought I’d write a quick blog about it. The reality is that it’s one of the easiest things to do with a camera whether it’s for photography or video.
Firstly you don’t need to be an expert photographer/videographer to do this, but you will at least need to have some understanding of how to manually change the F-Stop and Shutter Speed on your camera – and of course have a camera which allows you to do this!
I don’t want to get too technical about lenses etc but this technique works better on a lens with a longer focal length (e.g. 50mm and above).
So without further adieu here we go:
The trick to getting a blurry background (aka ‘shallow depth of field’) is simple but ensure to take your camera out of any automatic lighting modes/settings before doing this trick. This must be done manually.
On your camera simply ensure that your F-Stop/Iris is set to the absolute minimum it can go to. Cheaper lenses will not be able to go much below 4.0 but a better lens should be able to take you to about 2.0. Once you’ve done this then simply adjust your shutter speed to accommodate the lighting, whether that means going higher or lower to get the lighting brighter or darker.
If you’ve never done this before or you’ve been using the automatic setting for years then you’ll immediate notice from doing this that subjects not in focus are now much more blurred than before.
With these settings now set you just need to keep a few pointers in mind when taking your photographs.
Firstly, always try to to keep the subject you are focusing on away from the background – the closer your subject is to the background, the less blurred it will look on camera. You need at least 1 to 2 meters distance between your subject and the background.
Also If you’re able to, always try to ensure that the subject you are focusing on is either:
a) Close to the camera so that when you focus on the subject near you, the background goes totally out of focus and blurred.
b) Far away from the camera and you have some objects in front of the subject so that when you focus on the subject in the distance, everything in the foreground blurs out completely.
And that’s it in a nutshell really! There is plenty more technical details that can be discussed here on how to perfectly get a good depth of field, but I didn’t want to bog the post down with trying to explain why this is all happening. If you simply follow those instructions you’ll always have a nice blurred background like the professional images we’ve come accustomed to. If you would like a more technical in-depth look at everything then please let me know and I’ll write an alternative blog with all the technical jargon in 🙂