As a Joshua Tree Children's Photographer, it's super important for me to have an understanding of depth of field. While I don't expect my clients to know, or even care, about this aspect of photography, it's really important that as a photographer, you understand it to the best of your ability.
Have you ever asked yourself (or maybe another photographer), "How can I get that blurry background?" I've seen, and heard, a lot of photographers who think this is done in Photoshop. While you CAN do it in Photoshop, I personally never recommend this. It's so much better, and way more believable, when you can master this in camera.
I had this big long blog started all about aperture. But I didn't want to overwhelm anyone with too much information. Because, let's be honest, there is A LOT to learn about photography, and definitely a lot to learn about aperture. So I wanted to make this more about achieving the look you're going for in camera!
Can you see how "blurry" the background is in this photo? I shot that image using my Canon 6D, 85L and it was shot using an aperture of f/2.8. Now, that's pretty wide open, but not as wide open as this particular lens allows. But because I was so close to him, I didn't want to be any wider than a 2.8.
So, how do you get that blurry background? There's a few things that play their own part here.
This can be caused by a couple things. Your lens, and also the camera body you're using. Often times photographers think having a full framed camera is the best way to go. However, that's not always true. Granted, there are definite perks to having a full frame camera, but there are perks to a crop sensor as well. If aren't sure if you're ready for a full frame camera or not, check out this blog I wrote for Clickin' Moms: Are You Ready for a Full Frame Camera. A crop sensor body will put you closer to your subject than a full frame body will, so there will already be a certain amount of compression in comparison to a full frame.
As for your lens, having a longer lens, think 100mm or longer, or a zoom lens, will also help create compression in your image. Basically, what this means is when you use a longer lens, you're bringing the background closer to the foreground. You're making objects in the background appear to be closer than they actually are. For example, if you photograph something using a wide angle lens, you're going to make your subject appear much larger (and sometimes...often... a little distorted). This is because you are allowed to get so much closer to your subject using a wide angle lens. With a longer lens, it's like you're bringing the background closer to you but without moving your feet. In fact, shooting the same subject, at the same distance, using a wide angle lens for one shot and a longer, telephoto or zoom, lens for the other, it would yield two completely different shots. The composition would be different, the objects in the image would look different, some things would be closer, some things might not even be in the image any longer. Basically, using a longer lens or a zoom lens helps isolate your subject.
This image was shot again on a Canon 6D, using my 85L at an aperture of f/2.0
2. Distance of Subject to Background
The distance between you and your subject AND your subject and the background play a big part in achieving that blurry background. Having more distance between your subject and background vs you and your subject is the best way to achieve this look. Keeping in mind you want to be far enough away to not cut off vital parts of the image and making sure you're getting the right parts of the subject in focus.
Aperture and Depth of Field go together like chocolate frosting and chocolate cake. Delicious and irresistible. Some people think that you have to be wide open on a lens in order to achieve a blurred background. However, this is not correct. In the image below, I used my 24-105mm lens. I was at 105mm and an aperture of f/4. While this is wide open for this particular lens, it's not really considered that wide of an aperture when you compare it to the 85 1.2. However, because I zoomed into the flower, it helped create a separation between the flower and the background, thus creating a blur effect. I was also much closer to the flower than the flower was to the background.
At the end of the day, it's important to know your gear and understand what it's capable of. I always suggest trying to get something correct in camera rather than relying on Photoshop to fix it for you afterwards. If you are someone who would like to be more confident in your gear and creating images you love, I would love to help you. I offer an online course that teaches you everything you need to know about using your gear to it's fullest potential. You can learn more about that course by going here: CREATING YOUR JOURNEY
If you or someone you know is looking for a Joshua Tree Children's Photographer, I would love for you to CONTACT ME today to talk about a possible session!