How to blur the background in portraits – basic DSLR photography tips


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!

100 Comments

  1. Jack Snuggs July 2, 2017 at 2:37 pm

    "apatyour"

  2. Сергей Гуськов July 2, 2017 at 9:35 pm

    Thank you

  3. Stephanie Collins July 7, 2017 at 8:12 pm

    I'm a total beginner and this video greatly helped me understand my new camera!

  4. Jona Eroy July 15, 2017 at 3:06 pm

    This video is awesome. It's easy to understand.

  5. ck tak July 25, 2017 at 4:06 pm

    Thank u so much…. well explained . loved it

  6. Aku Manusia Biasa July 30, 2017 at 5:01 am

    Seriously.. so nice

  7. Ivana Goričanec August 1, 2017 at 10:58 am

    which lens (Nikon D3300) for photos like 3:08 ?

  8. Terrorschaap August 1, 2017 at 7:03 pm

    Thanks, very useful tips!

  9. Tom Flynn August 2, 2017 at 11:20 am

    A very simply explained and easy to understand tutorial. Thank you

  10. nathan smiddy 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

  11. Nathan Wilkinson August 8, 2017 at 8:56 pm

    Thank you. Best most clear explanation I've found.

  12. Morgan Ashley Poole August 9, 2017 at 10:25 pm

    What's the difference between f11 and f2.8? What does "f" even stand for?

  13. Regina Summerrow August 10, 2017 at 4:46 am

    very helpful

  14. The Outdoor Writer August 15, 2017 at 8:48 pm

    Thank you for sharing, this was great information and very easy to understand!

  15. Awais Yousaf August 16, 2017 at 1:48 pm

    which lense you used

  16. Mika Hoeft August 21, 2017 at 12:47 pm

    small aperture -> more blured bg
    greater aperture-> less blured bg

  17. English Hinglish August 23, 2017 at 9:03 am

    Pls advise how to do blur through Sony a5100 . Pls advise good manual settings

  18. irene d. September 6, 2017 at 2:46 pm

    thank you!

  19. Sir Fg September 8, 2017 at 7:06 am

    how much is a good lens

  20. Rohit Jagtap September 10, 2017 at 3:40 pm

    Nice!

  21. Recoba Alvaro September 22, 2017 at 6:37 am

    realy usefull Vudeo, Thank you

  22. E O September 26, 2017 at 8:36 am

    found this so useful, thank you!

  23. Mumtasir Khan September 29, 2017 at 3:52 am

    Thank you so much 😊 it was really useful

  24. Jack Fisher October 8, 2017 at 10:35 am

    Nice short and very clear.

  25. Neeraj Sajwan 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

  26. Mrs.Owens541 October 18, 2017 at 3:14 am

    Very helpful, thank you so much Tom!

  27. The Kapil Sharma show October 24, 2017 at 12:10 pm

    hello I am using Nikon cooplix l110 how to blur background in this camera plzzz reply fast

  28. Bharat Thapa October 26, 2017 at 4:09 pm

    Thnk you sir

  29. Vinoth Kumar November 2, 2017 at 3:09 pm

    Thank u

  30. roopa kl November 4, 2017 at 2:39 pm

    Thank you sir, u cleared my doubts in a very easy way

  31. MD SHADAB 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.

  32. Shubham kumar December 1, 2017 at 7:39 pm

    blur your photos on phone https://youtu.be/oDwa2Vg5xLw

  33. tom martin December 3, 2017 at 12:20 pm

    Awesome. Thanks

  34. Surathatway December 5, 2017 at 10:15 am

    Ur awesome
    Thnku very much

  35. Alice Hernandez December 8, 2017 at 1:47 am

    Hello how can I take blurry background pictures with my Canon T6i ?

  36. My Zoo Though December 11, 2017 at 2:42 am

    How do I change the shutter time?

  37. Abdul Ajij December 12, 2017 at 2:52 am

    Whose dslr is this

  38. Amith Innocent December 20, 2017 at 10:25 am

    love your tutorial
    will you be kind enough to send me a camera even it's not new
    I just got rubbed of my canon t6

  39. FaZe Bro December 23, 2017 at 5:20 am

    supiri okay

  40. vel gene December 30, 2017 at 2:21 am

    Who names their daughter "subject"? 🤔

  41. EG Films January 4, 2018 at 11:27 pm

    Good video

  42. Anibal Delatorre January 14, 2018 at 3:57 am

    https://youtu.be/sLP3YzuG51c

  43. Mohammed Sabith January 28, 2018 at 10:34 pm

    Perfect 🙂

  44. Surya Narayanan March 7, 2018 at 11:54 am

    Beautifully put across & simple to understand. Very useful video.

  45. Jen Aud March 10, 2018 at 5:36 pm

    Thank you! Really appreciate this tutorial!

  46. Easy to tips and tricks ect 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

  47. Easy to tips and tricks ect March 12, 2018 at 1:35 am

    And a big blue thumbs up for you!

  48. urfavorate April 4, 2018 at 1:36 pm

    Beautifully explained

  49. Poshlady43 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!

  50. omri selem April 12, 2018 at 2:14 pm

    Hello
    I have a question please
    why the focus does work only with small objects and very very close distances when we use smart phone cameras ?

  51. Jason Hargrave April 16, 2018 at 1:45 am

    Abundantly clear and concise explanation. THANK YOU!!

  52. Ashish Roul 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

  53. Charles Morzo 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

  54. Wicked Rides 317 May 16, 2018 at 7:34 pm

    Suck

  55. TheMikerb May 19, 2018 at 10:22 am

    Fantastic video! thank you Tom, the most informative I've seen.

  56. J Leh May 31, 2018 at 5:19 pm

    Thank you for concisely teaching the subject. Awesome!

  57. Shemene Kok June 7, 2018 at 9:21 am

    nice explaination

  58. Nnamdi Do June 18, 2018 at 6:20 pm

    nice work, well covered

  59. Balasubramanian Pillai June 23, 2018 at 6:20 am

    Sorry if the question is basic…..for F2.8 what sud be the shutter speed and ISO ?

  60. Hamid Salimy June 24, 2018 at 10:54 am

    Nice one

  61. Huzaifa Habibi 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

  62. Lawrence. L. July 27, 2018 at 4:22 am

    I believe you mean "Depth of Field, not "Depth of Focus", which is different.

  63. Lawrence. L. July 27, 2018 at 4:25 am

    Btw, nicely done tutorial.

  64. Chris Nortcliffe August 7, 2018 at 8:32 pm

    Hi can you help me please

  65. Jack Johnson 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…….

  66. 4by3MEDIA August 26, 2018 at 5:31 am

    This was incredibly useful! Finally!

  67. LeAna Bui September 12, 2018 at 1:21 am

    Thank you! This helps immensely!

  68. sheldon leslie September 13, 2018 at 11:22 pm

    My search how to take portrait picture stops right here and saved to favorite

  69. lordzid667 September 23, 2018 at 2:43 pm

    This was the best explanation i found so far. Amazing work please continue

  70. Sarah Thomson September 29, 2018 at 6:44 pm

    Yes, great video!

  71. WiseManSay OnlyFoolsRushIn October 3, 2018 at 9:01 am

    greatest video explaination about blurring background!

  72. boyimhavingfood 123 October 29, 2018 at 8:25 pm

    Why is my whole photo blurry it won’t focus on the subject I need help pls

  73. David NatchoMama October 31, 2018 at 1:09 am

    Very clear and concise. Thank you

  74. Prof Gam November 1, 2018 at 10:16 am

    whats the ISO setting is he using? is it in auto?

  75. Ramil Velez November 4, 2018 at 1:11 am

    Very good video and explanation.

  76. Janae’s Channel November 13, 2018 at 7:16 am

    Will it Work Canon T6 18-55mm

  77. Da Halal Gamer November 30, 2018 at 9:20 pm

    If I make the aperture larger should I make my shutter speed higher

  78. Mathew Poulose Mamkunnel 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

  79. JK ting January 2, 2019 at 4:47 pm

    Just watched it now. Thank you very much.. best tutorial when I searched about background blur. 💙

  80. Abaza Abdelmajeid January 5, 2019 at 7:10 pm

    Brilliant you are brilliant 👍👍👍👍👍👍

  81. V-CLIPS TV 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?

  82. Jillian Lewis 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!

  83. IceBerg TV January 31, 2019 at 11:33 pm

    does this technique work for video also?

  84. Robbert van Oosten February 8, 2019 at 11:13 am

    Simple, to the point and crystal clear, except the background 😉

  85. Rose Editz 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

  86. kshuf March 24, 2019 at 2:13 am

    Great video. Concise and to the point. Every photography video should be like this.

  87. Marketing Corporativo Agencia Digital March 26, 2019 at 9:11 pm

    Great tutorial! Thanks!

  88. Cory Hart March 27, 2019 at 4:20 pm

    Ohhhhhh!!! Now I get it!

  89. Luke March 28, 2019 at 6:58 pm

    I cant afford a camera

  90. Treb's Bert 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!

  91. marc rothman April 10, 2019 at 2:32 pm

    SOOO helpful, thank you!

  92. Luis Pena 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!

  93. Angelika Hanna 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.

  94. Edward Fenn 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.

  95. DoubleDuck May 15, 2019 at 4:40 pm

    whats the ISO when taking these pictures?

  96. Just Chilling 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?

  97. Aditya 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.

  98. Abdul Jama July 8, 2019 at 7:06 am

    Thank you for clarifying this. I get the point now :).

  99. Be Happy July 14, 2019 at 10:04 pm

    This one became my personal favourite… like seriously man !!!!

  100. SCB ALGERIE August 5, 2019 at 3:12 pm

    thank you sir

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *