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This week’s photography tip is about controlling the blur of your background by setting your aperture [or f/stop].
To read an in depth tutorial I have written about aperture, click here. Aperture is what controls the depth of field in your photo, which affects the amount of blur that the background of your photo has. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, check out that in depth aperture tutorial and then come back and read this post.
Sometimes people want to have everything in their photo in focus. Other times, people want only their subject, the main focal point of their photo in focus, while all the rest of the photo is blurred/out of focus. Sometimes it is a matter of personal opinion, and other times, it’s dependent on your subject matter.
As a general rule of thumb, landscape photographers want more of their photos in focus [to see the entire mountains/trees/stream in the frame] while portrait photographers usually like the person in their photo to be in focus while the background is nice and blurry, giving more attention to the subject and minimizing the background.
The higher your f/stop number, the less blur you will have in your photos. It has to do with the depth of field in your photos, which again, is covered in that in depth tutorial I wrote and linked to above.
For today’s tip, I want to show the difference that the f/stop can make on your background. The higher your aperture number, the less blur you will have in your background.
A photo taken at f/16 will have a minimally blurry background, while a photo taken at f/1.4 will have such a blurred background, you won’t be able to tell what was in it. It’ll just be a mass of soft shapes and color.
Why is this important?
It is important because it greatly affects the appearance of your photos, and creates very different looks by which aperture setting you choose. Also, if you are taking photos in a place that has a busy/cluttered background and maybe you don’t particularly want people to know you are taking photos in an alley with some garbage bins scattered around. So what can you do, besides moving to a new location or moving the bins? You can use a lower f/stop which will give you a more blurry background. You will be able to see less of the background and the distractions will matter less!
I love to use a low f/stop number, which gives me a shallow depth of field and a nice blurry background. This allows me to keep the background from overpowering or distracting from my subjects.
Plus, it fits my personal taste and the overall emotional and classic field of my photography.
If you’d like to learn more about photography, check out the Love Your Camera E-book and Online Photography Course here.