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Blurry Backgrounds 
Monday, February 9, 2009, 11:17 AM
Posted by Ryan Miller
This article is related to my last writing titled "What are these letters on my camera?". There I threw out some technical information but did not mention how to actually apply any of that information. So lets get to it.

How do I make sure my background is blurry?

Often your shots will come out this way, with a blurry background. However, many times your shots don't have that nice blurry background.
Why have a blurry or soft background? When you are taking a shot of your child, a somewhat sharp background gives your child a good chance of blending in with that background. He or she doesn't pop out of the image.

So how do we accomplish the soft background? The most simple method is having a zoom lens and backing away from the subject. Whether you have point & shoot with a decent magnification or an SLR with zoom lens, you can make your subjects pop out of the picture. You can test this by standing close to your subject using the least amount of magnification (zoomed out), take a shot. Next, stand further away and using the highest magnification (zoomed in) and take a shot. The higher magnification your zoom is, the more the background will change. Easy stuff!

There is another way to accomplish the blurry background. Using your Aperture. The aperture is the iris of the lens.
Without getting too technical we will see how to use it. For how to change this setting, you may have to consult your camera's manual.
While you are setting the aperture value with this setting, don't worry your camera adjusts the shutter speed to compensate.

The symbol for this setting is A or Av. There is a scale with aperture values and this scale is the F Stop. Again without getting too technical I will simply mention that the lower the F stop number, the more light will enter the lens and the more blurry the background will end up. A higher F stop will limit the amount of light entering the lens and will result with a sharper background. Great for landscapes.

You will see numbers like this: F/1.8, F/2.8, F/4, F/5.6 and so on to numbers like F/22. F/4 will result with a soft background unlike F/8 which will result in a sharper background. A combination of the two methods is a larger aperture like F/4 while you are zoomed in and standing further away.

Both of these methods do assume the background is at least several feet behind your subject. The further your subject is from the background, the more blurry the trees, rocks or buildings will appear.

Please try the zoom in/out exercise and post your results, will be interesting to see the changes. I'll post a few as well.
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