How to blur the background in portraits – basic DSLR photography tips January 13, 2020 100 By Peter Engel Hi, this is Tom Greenwood from sydneyportraits.com.au. Now in this clip we’re looking at how to create that lovely blurred effect in the background of your portraits. There are four main factors affecting the amount of blur you create in the background of your shots. The first is the aperture that you use, the second is the distance between the subject and the background, the third is the distance between the camera and the subject and the fourth is the kind of lens you use, be it a wide-angle, a normal lens or a longer lens. First let’s look at aperture. Now we’re in the park and our subject is two or three metres in front of the rocks that make the background. Here we’re shooting at 50mm. Now this first shot uses an aperture of f11, a fairly small aperture and as you can see there’s an element of blur, but not very much. If we take the same shot at f4, which is a fairly wide aperture, we can see the background is quite nicely blurred and the subject stands out in contrast. So the wider the aperture, the narrower the depth of focus and therefore the blurrier the background. So let’s have a look at the distance between the subject and the background. In the first shot the subject is the same two to three metres from the rocks. And now, using the same 70mm lens and the same aperture of f5.6, the subject is less than a metre from the background. So, clearly the greater the distance between the subject and the background, the more blurred the background will be. Now let’s look at the distance between the camera and the subject. Both of these shots are shot at 40 mm with an aperture of f5.6. The first shot was taken from about two and a half metres from the subject and this shot, about one and a half metres. Now it’s not the most dramatic example but you can clearly see the more blurred background the closer you, the photographer, are to the subject. Now let’s have a look at the optical length of the lens. So once more our subject is about two or three metres from rocks and the aperture is f5.6 in both shots. Now this is shot at 24mm, so quite wide. Now this is shot with a much longer lens at 70mm. You can see the difference in perspective — also the increased blur with the 70mm lens. Finally lets put together a number of these factors. Here we’re using an 135 mm and the trees in the background are quite a distance away, something like half a kilometre. This shot uses an aperture of f11. Whereas here we switch to f2.8. Our subject is lovely and crisp, and the background has that beautiful soft, blurry texture. I hope you found this clip useful. Please leave a comment and take a look at some of the other clips in the series. Good luck and happy snapping! CategoryArticles BlogTagsadvice and aperture background blur blurred background camera digital dslr lens lesson photography portraits the tips tutorial 100 Comments nathan smiddy says: August 6, 2017 at 1:29 pm Yet I was sure that it depends on the Model type itself as everyone I see on youtube seem to be using the more costly brand as with me I only got the EOS 700D Brand Reply Nathan Wilkinson says: August 8, 2017 at 8:56 pm Thank you. Best most clear explanation I've found. Reply Morgan Ashley Poole says: August 9, 2017 at 10:25 pm What's the difference between f11 and f2.8? What does "f" even stand for? Reply Regina Summerrow says: August 10, 2017 at 4:46 am very helpful Reply The Outdoor Writer says: August 15, 2017 at 8:48 pm Thank you for sharing, this was great information and very easy to understand! Reply Awais Yousaf says: August 16, 2017 at 1:48 pm which lense you used Reply Mika Hoeft says: August 21, 2017 at 12:47 pm small aperture -> more blured bg greater aperture-> less blured bg Reply English Hinglish says: August 23, 2017 at 9:03 am Pls advise how to do blur through Sony a5100 . Pls advise good manual settings Reply irene d. says: September 6, 2017 at 2:46 pm thank you! Reply Sir Fg says: September 8, 2017 at 7:06 am how much is a good lens Reply Rohit Jagtap says: September 10, 2017 at 3:40 pm Nice! Reply Recoba Alvaro says: September 22, 2017 at 6:37 am realy usefull Vudeo, Thank you Reply E O says: September 26, 2017 at 8:36 am found this so useful, thank you! Reply Mumtasir Khan says: September 29, 2017 at 3:52 am Thank you so much 😊 it was really useful Reply Jack Fisher says: October 8, 2017 at 10:35 am Nice short and very clear. Reply Neeraj Sajwan says: October 14, 2017 at 7:19 pm I have Nikon D3300 with 18-55mm lens. Can I blur background with those ? If yes what should be the aparture for an outdoor image with green background at a distance of let's say 4 to 5 metres Reply Chintana Philavanh says: October 18, 2017 at 3:14 am Very helpful, thank you so much Tom! Reply The Kapil Sharma show says: October 24, 2017 at 12:10 pm hello I am using Nikon cooplix l110 how to blur background in this camera plzzz reply fast Reply Bharat Thapa says: October 26, 2017 at 4:09 pm Thnk you sir Reply Vinoth Kumar says: November 2, 2017 at 3:09 pm Thank u Reply roopa kl says: November 4, 2017 at 2:39 pm Thank you sir, u cleared my doubts in a very easy way Reply MD SHADAB says: November 6, 2017 at 9:30 am sir. i have nikon d5300 with lens 18-55mm and 70-300mm but their is no Auto focus and VR buttons on lens. why is it so sir? please explain me . thank you. Reply Shubham kumar says: December 1, 2017 at 7:39 pm blur your photos on phone https://youtu.be/oDwa2Vg5xLw Reply tom martin says: December 3, 2017 at 12:20 pm Awesome. Thanks Reply Surathatway says: December 5, 2017 at 10:15 am Ur awesome Thnku very much Reply Alice Hernandez says: December 8, 2017 at 1:47 am Hello how can I take blurry background pictures with my Canon T6i ? Reply My Zoo Though says: December 11, 2017 at 2:42 am How do I change the shutter time? Reply Abdul Ajij says: December 12, 2017 at 2:52 am Whose dslr is this Reply Amith Innocent says: December 20, 2017 at 10:25 am love your tutorial will you be kind enough to send me a camera even it's not newI just got rubbed of my canon t6 Reply FaZe Bro says: December 23, 2017 at 5:20 am supiri okay Reply vel gene says: December 30, 2017 at 2:21 am Who names their daughter "subject"? 🤔 Reply EG Films says: January 4, 2018 at 11:27 pm Good video Reply Anibal Delatorre says: January 14, 2018 at 3:57 am https://youtu.be/sLP3YzuG51c Reply Mohammed Sabith says: January 28, 2018 at 10:34 pm Perfect 🙂 Reply Surya Narayanan says: March 7, 2018 at 11:54 am Beautifully put across & simple to understand. Very useful video. Reply Jen Aud says: March 10, 2018 at 5:36 pm Thank you! Really appreciate this tutorial! Reply Easy to tips and tricks ect says: March 12, 2018 at 1:35 am Thank you for taking the time to share this information I appreciate it. I've also just joined your community keep up the good work I look forward to hearing from you Ken Reply Easy to tips and tricks ect says: March 12, 2018 at 1:35 am And a big blue thumbs up for you! Reply urfavorate says: April 4, 2018 at 1:36 pm Beautifully explained Reply Poshlady43 says: April 7, 2018 at 11:46 pm Good afternoon Mr Greenwood, I love your tutorial. I am getting my camera, in the next couple and is very excited about using it. By the way I've been to your country and I love me some Australia! Especially Melbourne it reminds me of New York City! Reply omri selem says: April 12, 2018 at 2:14 pm HelloI have a question pleasewhy the focus does work only with small objects and very very close distances when we use smart phone cameras ? Reply Jason Hargrave says: April 16, 2018 at 1:45 am Abundantly clear and concise explanation. THANK YOU!! Reply Ashish Roul says: April 27, 2018 at 6:03 am https://www.amazon.in/Sony-A6000L-24-3MP-Digital-16-50mm/dp/B00KT69ZNI/ref=as_sl_pc_tf_til?tag=ashishroul789-21&linkCode=w00&linkId=15f342dd98a5fa7f92861c7fe5e5387c&creativeASIN=B00KT69ZNI Reply Charles Morzo says: May 15, 2018 at 10:16 pm I don’t get why this video got some thumbs down. This video is clear to me. Thanks Reply Real_ Luiz317 says: May 16, 2018 at 7:34 pm Suck Reply TheMikerb says: May 19, 2018 at 10:22 am Fantastic video! thank you Tom, the most informative I've seen. Reply J Leh says: May 31, 2018 at 5:19 pm Thank you for concisely teaching the subject. Awesome! Reply Shemene Kok says: June 7, 2018 at 9:21 am nice explaination Reply Nnamdi Do says: June 18, 2018 at 6:20 pm nice work, well covered Reply Balasubramanian Pillai says: June 23, 2018 at 6:20 am Sorry if the question is basic…..for F2.8 what sud be the shutter speed and ISO ? Reply Hamid Salimy says: June 24, 2018 at 10:54 am Nice one Reply Huzaifa Habibi says: June 27, 2018 at 7:37 am Guys anyone can tell me the settings with Nikon D 3400 how to adjust the apeture for blur back ground Reply Lawrence. L. says: July 27, 2018 at 4:22 am I believe you mean "Depth of Field, not "Depth of Focus", which is different. Reply Lawrence. L. says: July 27, 2018 at 4:25 am Btw, nicely done tutorial. Reply Chris Nortcliffe says: August 7, 2018 at 8:32 pm Hi can you help me please Reply Jack Johnson says: August 13, 2018 at 11:39 pm Very nice combination of verbal and pictorial instructions. Appreciate it.Now, you think perhaps you can cut a video explaining boolean algebra? Ps:- Just pulling your leg – but based on how you deal with the subject here……. Reply 4by3MEDIA says: August 26, 2018 at 5:31 am This was incredibly useful! Finally! Reply LeAna Bui says: September 12, 2018 at 1:21 am Thank you! This helps immensely! Reply Sheldon Everything says: September 13, 2018 at 11:22 pm My search how to take portrait picture stops right here and saved to favorite Reply lordzid667 says: September 23, 2018 at 2:43 pm This was the best explanation i found so far. Amazing work please continue Reply Sarah Thomson says: September 29, 2018 at 6:44 pm Yes, great video! Reply WiseManSay OnlyFoolsRushIn says: October 3, 2018 at 9:01 am greatest video explaination about blurring background! Reply boyimhavingfood 123 says: October 29, 2018 at 8:25 pm Why is my whole photo blurry it won’t focus on the subject I need help pls Reply David NatchoMama says: October 31, 2018 at 1:09 am Very clear and concise. Thank you Reply Prof Gam says: November 1, 2018 at 10:16 am whats the ISO setting is he using? is it in auto? Reply Ramil Velez says: November 4, 2018 at 1:11 am Very good video and explanation. Reply Eastside Janae says: November 13, 2018 at 7:16 am Will it Work Canon T6 18-55mm Reply Da Halal Gamer says: November 30, 2018 at 9:20 pm If I make the aperture larger should I make my shutter speed higher Reply Mathew Poulose Mamkunnel says: December 31, 2018 at 7:26 pm where is the big hole and small home lence closing division, multiplication blah blah blah,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, you are a good teacher ….thanks Reply JK ting says: January 2, 2019 at 4:47 pm Just watched it now. Thank you very much.. best tutorial when I searched about background blur. 💙 Reply Abaza Abdelmajeid says: January 5, 2019 at 7:10 pm Brilliant you are brilliant 👍👍👍👍👍👍 Reply V-CLIPS TV says: January 18, 2019 at 4:28 pm i love your tutorial thanks for this.i learned much of it. I am buying canon 3000d, is that good for me as a beginner? Reply Jillian Lewis says: January 24, 2019 at 1:50 pm Really appreciated this video! Thank you, very much for the help! For some reason I am unable to “like” the video, however I was able to “like” some of the others comments. Thanks, again! Reply IceBerg TV says: January 31, 2019 at 11:33 pm does this technique work for video also? Reply Robbert van Oosten says: February 8, 2019 at 11:13 am Simple, to the point and crystal clear, except the background 😉 Reply Rose Editz says: March 13, 2019 at 2:30 pm Does this work with Canon Black EOS Rebel T6 EF-S IS Digital Camera with 18 Megapixels and 18-55mm Reply kshuf says: March 24, 2019 at 2:13 am Great video. Concise and to the point. Every photography video should be like this. Reply Marketing Corporativo Agencia Digital says: March 26, 2019 at 9:11 pm Great tutorial! Thanks! Reply Cory Hart says: March 27, 2019 at 4:20 pm Ohhhhhh!!! Now I get it! Reply Luke says: March 28, 2019 at 6:58 pm I cant afford a camera Reply Treb's Bert says: April 4, 2019 at 3:35 am 👏👏👏 now i can say, "i got it!"… watched many videos about blurring a background but none of them met my querries.. it is only here.. many thanks! Reply marc rothman says: April 10, 2019 at 2:32 pm SOOO helpful, thank you! Reply Luis Pena says: May 3, 2019 at 8:43 pm This is the best video about this topic I've seen. All other just explained about aperture only. but know I realize that there are other factors into account. I was wondering why I had picture with big aperture and not blurred background. Now I know. thank you so much! Reply Angelika Hanna says: May 11, 2019 at 10:44 pm Great presentation. Easy to understand, speech clear and right pace to follow. I gave it a thumb up and follow your channel. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. Reply Edward Fenn says: May 15, 2019 at 2:20 am Save you three minutes: What you really need is a portrait lens. Without a wide open aperture and a good focal length, namely, a portrait lens, nothing would work nicely no matter how you play with the distance. For example, so you want the camera to be close to the subject? Do you really think that would work? You pretty much have to put the camera in front of the subject's nose to get a smooth bokeh in the background and you will end up with a macro shot of a mole on the subject's face. Reply DoubleDuck says: May 15, 2019 at 4:40 pm whats the ISO when taking these pictures? Reply Just Chilling says: May 20, 2019 at 11:39 pm Thanks for the invaluable information and the tutorial. One question regarding the focus, do we use manual focus or auto focus? Reply Aditya says: June 4, 2019 at 12:38 pm Wow thanks for the tutorial.Whatever I was thinking I was totally wrong and opposite of whatever you showed us. Reply Abdul Jama says: July 8, 2019 at 7:06 am Thank you for clarifying this. I get the point now :). Reply Be Happy says: July 14, 2019 at 10:04 pm This one became my personal favourite… like seriously man !!!! Reply SCB ALGERIE says: August 5, 2019 at 3:12 pm thank you sir Reply Fernando Pelegio says: August 27, 2019 at 1:01 pm You make it so simple. Thank you for the explanation. Very useful Reply naziha chair says: September 24, 2019 at 1:27 am Definitely!!!! this tutorial is by far the best ever on youtube. Thank you so much for your hard work and plz share more videos. Reply Android Era says: October 4, 2019 at 9:22 am Fantastic Reply MizNaturalist says: October 12, 2019 at 12:18 pm Thank you so much Reply One_Psychotic_Summer says: October 29, 2019 at 5:31 pm Awesome video! Nice and clear! Thank you. Reply Cathy A says: November 4, 2019 at 9:04 am This is so much better than a lot of other YouTube tutorials which assume a high level of knowledge. Reply AMV7 says: November 9, 2019 at 1:42 pm Great info. Thank you. Your model has a wonderful, natural smile. Reply salli saha thegi bedana maha dhanapathi Sriran says: December 1, 2019 at 4:14 am Nice Reply Xavier Greenwood says: December 27, 2019 at 4:55 pm yoooooo Reply Leave a Reply Cancel reply Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *Comment Name * Email * Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.