Photographs with the subject in sharp focus and a background in a diffused blur give a pleasing, surreal look. A film or digital camera featuring manual focus and aperture controls can produce this blurred background effect. A shallow depth of field and selective focusing draws attention to your subject. A blurred background can soften any distracting details.
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Keep the subject far away from the background. Increasing the subject-to-background distance helps throw the background out of focus.
Move the camera closer to the subject. As you focus on the subject, the background clutter will appear soft and blurred.
Set the lens aperture to a wide setting. A 50mm lens often has a maximum aperture of f/1.8. Try photographing with a range of wide apertures, such as f/1.8, f/2 and f/2.8. This wide aperture results in a shorter depth of field.
Focus on a specific part of the subject, such as a person’s eyes or a flower’s centre. Focusing with the limited depth of field makes the subject stand out and the background recede.
Tips and warnings
- Use a lens with a long focal length if possible. A 28mm-to-135mm zoom lens produces a pleasing background blur at a focal length of 135mm. The subject in focus also appears more compressed.
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