Ever wanted to know how to make that blurry background you see in cool, creative photos?
For the sake of this post, I’m going to assume you said, “Yes!” ;)
Now get your camera out and get ready to learn…
How to create a blurred background (formally called “Bokeh“)
First, look at the settings on your camera:
Turn the dial to “AV” on a Canon and “A” on a Nikon.
(The following camera shots were taken with my iPhone late at night, please excuse the quality)R
Now your camera is on Aperture Priority mode, which means you only have to worry about setting two things: your ISO and your aperture (also called f-stop) – I’ll walk you through both in this post.
The more blur you want to have, the lower your aperture needs to be set. With a standard lens you’ll be able to go down to about 4.0, but with a 50mm lens you’ll be able to go down to 1.8 or lower (see examples of photos taken at these aperture settings at the bottom of this post).
We normally buy through BHphoto, but actually got this 50mm lens on Craigslist for $50.
Btw, when you drop your camera while taking pictures for a post (like I did a few minutes ago) your lens will break. :(
I’m now in the market for another 50mm lens.
(If you happen to have a company that would like a little PR, I’d love to mention you in exchange for a new 50mm lens.) :)
Ok, back to the tutorial… be careful with your camera!
Set your aperture as low as your camera will allow. For Canon users, you will set your aperture by turning the dial next to the shutter release button to the left or right. I’ve not used a Nikon before so I can’t speak to that, but it’s probably similar.
You will find a number on your display screen (on the back of your camera or on the top of your camera) with an “F” by it. That’s your aperture (also called f-stop). In the following photo mine is set to F1.8 (the lowest my lens will go).
In order to get a good picture you will need to set your ISO to the appropriate level. Here are some basic guidelines/places to start.
100 in bright light outside
400 in the shade
1600 inside in low light
6400 in a dimly lit room
You will know your ISO is set correctly by looking at your shutter speed (see the number in the photo just above that reads 1/20).
Opinions vary, but I like to keep my bottom shutter speed number above 80 (1/80) to avoid camera shake/blur on the subject of my photo (much different than background blur). If my subjects are moving I like to have my bottom number above 125 (1/125) to keep from having motion blur on my subjects.
If your shutter speed is consistently below 80 (or 125 for motion) increase your ISO.
Btw, your shutter speed is shown in your view finder (the little hole you look through) with every half-press of the shutter release button (the picture taking button).
In the above picture, the number on the left is the bottom number of your shutter speed (in this case 1/40), the second number is your aperture (1.8), the third number is your ISO (100), and I have absolutely no idea what the last number (9).
Keep your eye on the far left number (your shutter speed), if you see it consistently drop below 80 increase your ISO. If you see it consistently go above 200 (unless you’re shooting action) decrease your ISO (move it in the direction of 100).
Now, you’re set!
Here are some examples and what my camera was set on (all photos were taken on AV mode):
Btw, you may wonder why you’d want to blur the background. Let me give you a few reasons why…
It makes nearly anything look cool!
It makes the subject stand out.
And it detracts from a less than appealing background (photo taken by my littlest one while I took an instagram picture of him)
Btw, I’m curious… do you prefer written tutorials or video tutorials? I’d love to hear from YOU as I plan future photography posts. Thanks! ♥