Photography 101 | How To Get That Background Blur

Photography 101 | Photography for beginners | How to get background blur

It’s been a while since my last photography post, this time around I am going to focus on how you can create that all-important background blur.

I touched on what aperture and depth of field were in my first Photography 101 | Getting The Basics Down post but if you need a refresher here are some of the terms you need to know for this to make any sense:

Photography Terms

Shutter speed – noun – the nominal time for which a shutter is open at a given setting.

Aperture – noun – a space through which light passes in an optical or photographic instrument, especially the variable opening by which light enters a camera.

Depth of Field – noun – the distance between the nearest and the furthest objects giving a focused image.

F stop – In optics, the f-number (sometimes called focal ratio, f-ratio, f-stop, or relative aperture) is a dimensionless number that is a quantitative measure of lens speed.

Using Aperture Priority Mode

It may be worth grabbing your camera so that whilst you are reading this you can have a fiddle with the settings to try them out.

  • First of all you are going to want to get out of your comfort zone and twist the dial from auto mode all the way around to A (Aperture priority mode).
  • On my camera (Nikon D5300) there is a command dial (Next to the AE-L / AF-L button on the back ) which can be rotated to adjust the aperture. If you’re not sure where it is on your camera and have discarded your manual a quick search on google should help you out.
  • Twisting the dial left on my camera shows a lower F stop on the screen which results in a higher aperture (larger space for the light to pass through) and a faster shutter speed. Twisting the dial right shows a higher F stop on the screen resulting in a lower aperture (small space for the light to pass through) and a slower shutter speed.
  • You will want to experiment to see which aperture works best for your subject in different lighting and environments. Try moving your subject closer or further away from the background or scene you are shooting to see the different results.

Different lenses will have different aperture ranges so if you are unsure what the range is on yours have a look at the front. For my 18-55mm lens the range is 1:3.5-5.6. My 55-300mm lens has a range of 1:4.5-5.6. You can view my camera kit here. Higher end lenses will have larger aperture ranges so if this is something you are interested in when purchasing a lens always remember to check the aperture options and not just the zoom range.

To Summarise

Lower F stop = Wider aperture = Faster shutter speed = More prominent background blur = Lower depth of field = Makes your subject the main focus whilst blurring out rest of the scene.

I really hope this isn’t too confusing! My advice would be to start shooting and play around with the aperture priority setting. The more you experiment with the settings the more comfortable you will become and you will soon start to find what works best for you and the kind of images you want to create.

Let me know if there’s anything you want me to go into in more detail about or if there’s anything else you would like to know regarding photography.

Rae x

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  • Rae, thank you! It’s funny, I’ve been a writer all my life, and I love blogging for that reason. However, now-a-days in our highly visual culture, photography is SO important — not just for blogs but for businesses. And I’m not going to lie, I’ve been struggling to learn! This post is incredibly helpful and easy to understand… I’ve already bookmarked it to refer back to as I get better with the camera. Thank you :o)