August 12, 2011

#31 – Blur the background with aperture.

“How’d I do that?”

You’re on vacation and you snap a shot of your boyfriend/mom/child in front of some landmark/landscape/landsomething. You look at the screen on the back and your subject looks fab – and the background looks even better because it’s softly blurred.

How did you do that?

Actually, it’s pretty easy. A couple of posts back, we talked about “aperture” – the ability of your camera to open up the lens to let more light into the camera. There’s another side to aperture, and it’s this – the more light you let in, the faster it blurs stuff in the background. Shoot at f11 and everything is mostly in focus. Shoot at f2.8 and there can be some serious blurring in the background. Photographers call it “depth of field” and it instantly makes your pictures look more professional.

The good news is that it’s super easy to blur out the background. Here’s how:

Turn your camera to the “Av” setting.
This lets you select an aperture you like and the camera figures out things like shutter speed.

Adjust your aperture to big bigger.
That’s a smaller number like 5.6, 4, 3.5 or 2.8.

Play around.
Try stuff out and see what works. There will be times that you take a close up of something at 2.8 and not see much blurring and times when you’re shooting at 5.6 and see lots of difference between the foreground and the background. The only way to know for sure is to experiment and have fun!

Warning – how much light you have is important.
As with any of the big three – aperture, ISO or shutter speed – you need to be aware of how much light you have. A bigger aperture (smaller number) lets more light in, which means you can try this out indoors and outdoors.

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