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Bokehlicious: Blurry Background Express!

MattKrumins Tutorials

We’ve all seen those beautiful images where the subject is tack sharp and the background looks like a giant swirling pool of smooth, creamy, goodness. They make your subject pop right out off the page and direct your viewers’ attention straight to the subject without a second thought. Today is my monthly quick-tip; that is, not a full tutorial but rather a “tidbit” to help transform your photos in seconds rather than minutes. There are two ways to achieve the blurry backgrounds known as Bokeh (pronounced however you want really because only you need to understand it). Below are my top 3 tidbits:

Tidbit 1: Use Aperture Priority Mode


Blurry backgrounds are achieved by opening up the aperture of your lens (the size of the hole that lets the light through). The aperture is measured in f/ numbers and the smaller the number the bigger the hole which gives you a blurrier background. The effects of the aperture are more pronounced in bigger interchangeable lens cameras than in smaller entry level compact cameras. The next two steps however are an easy way to get your backgrounds de-focused on any camera.

f/8 (aperture closed down)

f/1.8 (aperture wide open)

Tidbit 2: Get Close… now, closer


Ensure your subject is closer to your camera than it is from it’s background. Think about the distance between you and your subject as distance A and the subject to its background as distance B. We always want distance A to be smaller than B and wherever possible, we want A to be as small as physically possible. We do this by ensuring we are always close to the subject! This tip even works on iPhones which traditionally don’t give you any blurry backgrounds at all!

Subject far from camera = no blurry background

Subject close to camera = blurry background

Tidbit 3: Zooooooom in


Whilst zooming your lens (making things closer) generally results in a worst f/ number being available (max aperture vary depending on the zoom for most lenses), the way the light is captured through your lens means that you will actually get better blur in your backgrounds. This is applicable to cameras with an optical zoom and not a digital zoom, so pinching the screen of your iPhones ‘zoom’ won’t help your blurriness situation but on ‘real’ cameras it will!

Lens zoomed out = no blurry background

Lens zoomed in = blurry background

Learn more about how to isolate your subjects from their cluttered environment on one of my photography workshops or day trips, I promise it will change the way you see the world!

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