Creating a Blurred Background in a Close Up Portrait

How can I create portraiture with the background ‘all blurry’? This is a question that I always get asked by my friends and it’s something that is really easy to achieve; it is controlled by only one thing – Aperture. Have a quick read of my What is Aperture? post if you need to remind yourself of the Aperture basics.

To help you visualise how this striking look is created with a short depth of field, yesterday I roped my lovely dad into posing for a quick photograph! This post will show you how to use Aperture to achieve the blurry background when photographing at about one meter from your subject.

The numbers that refer to Aperture are called f numbers so I am using this language below. If you need to find out what you’re looking for on your camera, have a quick read of my What is Aperture? post.

So, this first photograph was taken using a larger f number (f8) which, as you can see, still leaves some definition in the background and the whole of the face is also sharp, bar maybe the very tip of the nose. To create an image that totally isolates the subject (my dad) from the background we will need to decrease the f number.


So, I reshot the photograph using a smaller f number (f2), and you can see the improvement clearly below. I made sure the eyes were in focus as I wanted people to be drawn to look directly at the face, as you do when talking to someone.


So, I hope that helps you Make Friends with Your Camera a little more this week!

Troubleshooting  Tips: When you photograph with such a small f number up close, you will need to make sure you check your focus carefully as the slightest movement (from the camera or your subject) will be exaggerated and you may end up with an image that isn’t sharp at all.

Equipment Used: Canon EOS 60D, 70mm lens, Shutter Speed 1/200, ISO 200.

For all those who live in the Kent area, I am running an Aperture Workshop at the Grain Store Studio based on a Beautiful Farm in Faversham. We will cover all manner of Aperture tips for Portraiture (and other subjects) as well as advice to help you get the most out of your camera and photography!

I would love to see your photographs on InstagramTwitter & Facebook. Head over, follow and get sharing!