How do I get that blurry background?
|The frog is in focus. Patch is not. Patch has become the blurry background, called bokeh.|
|Here is Jude when he was just a tubby 2-year-old toddler, sporting a big ol' goose egg. |
F-stop on this photo is 1.8, and the bookcase in the background creates the yummy bokeh. Without the bokeh blur in the background, the bookcase would draw your attention away from the subject.
You have a couple options to get bokeh in your photographs, and it really depends on the lenses you have. At this point I could get all technical on you and explain why and get into a big ol' physics lessons, or a lesson in the relationship between f-stop and aperture. But I promised I wouldn't do that. We're gonna keep it super simple and concentrate on "how to."
So let's get down to brass tacks, and learn how to get some yummy bokeh in your pics.
|The bokeh in this image is created by Xmas tree lights.|
In my opinion, this is the easiest option for creating great bokeh.
The f-stops are those little numbers that are directly after the focal length on your lens. So let's say you have a 50mm 1.8 lens. The 1.8 is going to be the lowest your f-stop can get on that lens.
|See up on the top of the lens (it's upside down at the top here) where it says 1:1.8? |
This shows that this lens's smallest possible f-stop is 1.8
To get good bokeh, you'll need a lens (not necessarily a 50 mm, but ANY lens) that has small f-stops. Lets say smaller than 3.0 for starters. The smaller the number, the more dramatic the bokeh. So although a f-stop of 2.8 will give you some bokeh, it won't be as dramatic as an f-stop of 1.8. And an f-stop of 1.4 can get bokeh that will knock your socks off!
For option one--
First set your camera to Av or Aperture value. (Again, I'm going to stick with Canon lingo here. Holler if you have a Nikon and can't figure out the translation.) Selecting this Av mode will allow you to select the aperture and your camera will automatically select the other settings.
|Turn this dial to "Av"|
Second, select a small f-stop, try something smaller than 3.0. 2.0 and smaller is even better!
Selecting the f-stop in the Av mode is usually done by moving the large dial by the shutter release. If this doesn't work, you may have to dig around in your camera's manual to figure it out change your f-stop.
Third, focus on your subject and shoot. You'll need good focusing skills as the smaller your f-stop, the less forgiving focus will be. Additionally, the farther your subject is away from your background, the more bokeh, or blurrier the background will be.
So in review, to get bokeh with a lens with small f-stops
1---Set your camera to Av mode
2---Select a small f-stop
|F-stop of 2.4 on this photo. The "knocker" on the right is in focus where as the second one is not.|
The farther way from the focal point you look, the more out of focus it gets.
Option #2---a zoom lens
Forgoing the physics lessons, in this option, the higher focal length, or more zoom you have, the more bokeh you can create. Thus the kit lens that came with your camera, maybe an 18-55mm, won't give you as much bokeh as a zoom that is say a lens that is 70-200mm.
And like option #1, the farther your subject is away from your background, the more bokeh, or blurrier it will be.
1---Zoom ALL the way IN on your subject
2---Step YOUR BODY back as much as you'd like, but keep your camera zoomed all the way in
|There is a very distracting swing set in the background of this pic. |
By zooming all the way in, and selecting a smaller f-stop, it's hard to tell what's in the background!
There's a new poll over there on the right sidebar. Let me know what you'd like to see in the next Photography 100 post.