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Making the background blurry.

One question I get asked a lot is how to make a background blurry. Like this:

In this post, I'm going to share the three methods that are the most powerful in making the background blurry.

ONE: Use a low f-stop.

The lower the f-stop, the narrower your depth of field will be. The "depth of field" is how much is in focus in front of and behind your focal point. Let me illustrate.

If I set my camera to f-11, my depth of field will be "deeper."I won't get into the technical reasons why. Just try to remember that a higher f-stop will make the background LESS blurry.

If I want the background to be blurry for a portrait (and I usually do), I'll choose an f-stop that is LOWER. For example, f-2.8 will have a more blurry background than f-11. If I go lower with my f-stop, I can blur my background even more.

TWO: Get closer to your subject.

The closer your are to your subject, the blurrier the background can be. The reason for this is simply the physics of light. Right now, bring your hand close to your face and then try to focus on something in the distance, your eyes can't do it at the same time. That's because the light coming from your hand is a different direction than the background.

It is different light directions that make something out of focus in a picture. If your hand was 100 feet away, you COULD focus on your hand and the background at the same time. That's because the light from your hand and the background are essentially parallel - that is what makes them both in focus.

To get the most blurry background possible, combine the two. Shoot at a low f-stop and get closer to your subject. You'll find the results very satisfying.


PS. I should mention something. If your subject is CLOSE to your background, it's going to be hard to get the background out of focus. For example, if your subject is within a foot of a wall, you're likely not going to be able to get that wall to be blurry. If your subject is twenty feet from that wall, you'll be able to easily make the wall blurry.

Because I didn't want the dumpster identifiable, I put her 10-15 feet away from it. This difference allowed me to blur the background.

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