Learn to take great photos


You can use a soft, out-of-focus background in your photos to make your subject pop and give your photos a quality, professional look. There are several factors that work together to make a pleasing, blurry background.

  • An open aperture or f-stop like f/2.8, f/4 or f/5.6
  • Telephoto lens with a focal length like 200mm
  • Physical distance from the subject to the background
To achieve the look you need to use a telephoto lens with an open aperture and some physical distance between your subject and the background. The easiest way to control your aperture is to shoot in aperture priority exposure mode.

Varying Aperture, Constant Distance
In this first example the subject is positioned 10 feet from the stone barn wall. These were all shot with a telephoto lens at 200mm.

Each photo is taken with a different aperture but the subject to background distance and the focal length remain constant. You can see the difference between the sharpness of the background in each photo.

Constant Aperture, Varying Distance
In this example the aperture and focal length of the lens is constant at F/8 and 200mm but the subject is placed further from the wall in each shot. You can see that even with the same aperture setting, the background becomes blurrier the farther it gets from the background.

Wide angle lenses (80mm or less) and point and shoot cameras do not produce this result! Both are characterized by great depth of field and are not capable of producing a soft focused background.


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