I love images where my couple stands out, and the background and foreground are out of focus! This is one of the things I strive to do in every session and wedding, and that defines my style! So it’s SUPER important to me!! And I use my lenses and a few tricks very strategically to attain this look!
I’m sharing my tips on…
how to get a blurry background in your images!
1. Use a wider aperture!
Aperture is how much is in focus, and a little number means less is in focus! This is great if you want your subject to stand out and be sharp, and everything else in front of or behind them to be out of focus. Your LENS is what determines how low your aperture can go, not how nice your camera is! Aperture is measured in an f/number! When I’m photographing one person, I like to shoot around f/1.8-2.8. When photographing two people, around f/2.2-3.2. When photographing multiple rows, I set it to at least f/3.2-5.6 or higher depending on the rows! So I love prime lenses that have a low aperture available! If you use a zoom with varied aperture that changes as you zoom (a range like f/3.5-5.6), just keep it to as low as it will go (unless photographing several rows)! This means as you zoom in, the aperture will get higher. But it’s still ok to zoom extra and lose that aperture because of the second tip!
In the first example below, I could use a wide aperture (small number) (like f/2.8) because just the couple’s faces needed to be in focus and they’re on the same plane! If you look at the very front of Natalie’s bouquet and the steps behind them, you’ll see that they’re out of focus while the couple is sharp!
But when there’s a group like this, I needed a higher aperture (like f/3.2 or higher) to be sure everyone was focus!
2. Zoom in extra.
If you use a zoom lens, take some extra steps back and zoom in more! If you use primes like I do for portraits, use a longer focal length prime and again step back more! This adds more compression to the background. Look at the examples below! The left one was with a 50mm, and the right with an 85mm! If you look at the trees in the background and the shoreline, you can tell that the 85mm makes the background a lot more out of focus and compressed!
3. Shoot tight.
Be sure you’re zoomed in extra since if you come in tight with a wide lens. The image may look stretched if the lens is too wide and you’re really close! But if you’re really trying to get the background super blurry or compressed, zooming in extra like mentioned above, AND shooting tighter will do that! See the examples below! Look at the staircase rail design and how much more out of focus it is even thought this was with the SAME lens, I just came in tighter on the second shot!
And look at the leaves below in the next example! Just shooting tighter made the background extra creamy!And one more!
4. Have distance between the subject and the background.
Creating distance between the subject and background will help your subject stand out more, and the background to be even more out of focus! If you use a small aperture, less is in focus. So if you have the background further back, it will be even more out of focus! In the shot below, I had space between the couple and the tree line so it would be even extra out of focus!
And in Rebekah & Mark’s session, I had them take a few steps away from the tree instead of shooting with one trunk right behind them! See how creamy it looks in the back? Pulling the couple away from the background, and not photographing a tree right behind them helps with getting the background out of focus! And the same with Chris & Andrea’s wedding! The tree is several yards behind them which helps it look softer!Now you know what it takes to get even more amazing images where your subject can stand out extra! I hope this helps as you take photos, and gives tips for what lenses fit your needs best! For portraits, I prefer my Canon 50mm f/1.2 and Canon 85mm f/1.2. However, like I mentioned above, I rarely shoot below f/1.8! But these lenses are crisp and allow me to have creamy backgrounds, especially the 85mm since it’s some extra lens length!
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