Learn to take great photos


Self Directed Tutorial
Selective Focus and Background Blur - Materials Only
This tutorial includes the course materials only for our Selective Focus and Background Blur course. This tutorial is for self-directed learning with no instructor, assignment or critique. For the instructor taught version of this course click here.

In this tutorial you will learn to control depth of field to create a soft blurred background and how to use selective focus as a compositional tool. When we talk about these ideas we are talking about using a shallow depth of field and a soft, out-of-focus background for a creative effect that allows us to eliminate visual clutter, simplify the image and direct the viewer's attention.

Snapshots taken with point and shoot cameras are characterized by too much depth of field making them busy with no clear subject. Controlling depth of field effectively is one of the immediately recognizable characteristics of a professional quality photograph. You can use depth of field to hide distracting backgrounds, to make your subject pop and to selectively focus on a point of your choosing.


  • Understanding and controlling depth of field
  • How to get a soft, blurred background
  • What is bokeh?
  • Hiding a distracting background
  • Making your subject pop out from your background
  • Selective focus
  • Directing the viewer's attention
  • Camera settings and shooting techniques

You will need a DSLR camera and a telephoto lens greater than 80mm to take advantage of this tutorial. This tutorial is a 9 page PDF of instructions and examples.
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Learn To Take Photos is an online photography school run by professional photographers. Our online photo courses are fun and motivating.