I really enjoyed writing the post last week about blogging fashion blunders. I think it still resonates with people even if they aren’t bloggers because it hits on photography and how to capture the pictures that you want. I got such great feedback that I thought I would continue on with some photography basics. Once again, I am not a trained photographer so for you that are, this is a totally basics post. I am completely self taught and I’m a teacher at heart (between the college I teach at and Pure Barre) so y’all know that I love breaking things down in easy to understand steps.
Okay when I started blogging and when I got my first DSLR camera I wanted to know how to create that “blurry” background. With research I found there is a name for it and it’s called “bokeh“. My mac keeps on autocorrecting this and it’s driving me nuts btw. When you get a camera it will come with a starter kit lens. In all honesty it’s great to play around with but I would tell you this. Any camera you get just add $100 to it because you need to get this lens right off the bat. Everyone calls it the “nifty fifty“. Why you need this lens is because it has a lower “F-stop” than the lens your camera comes with. That will help you get the blurred backgrounds.
When shooting in manual mode 3 settings, your shutter speed, f-stop and ISO. They all work together but today we are going to talk about the f-stop. First things about the other two. Shutter speed, that allows for sharp pictures and also to “freeze things“. If the shutter speed is 1/320, it will shoot very fast. Think stopping water in a droplet kind of fast. However, the faster the shutter speed, less light comes in. Remember that. When you drop your shutter speed say 1/60, more light in and you slow things down or blur if you are shooting action shots.
The way I think about ISO is adding light into the situation. If you are in a dark cafe and want to add light without using your flash (we will talk about flash later but for now we are not working with it) you will want to increase your ISO. If you are outside, you want to drop your ISO because there is plenty of light coming at you. Just remember the more ISO you go up, the more “noise” you will add to your picture. Noise = grainy but honestly it looks better than flash so if you need to go up to 6400 to get that light, do what you have to do.
Okay. Back to aperture. Refresher. Low f-stop, more light in and blurry background. Higher the number less light in and the whole scene is sharp. Think low f-stop for those close up details and high f-stop for shooting outdoor scenery.
Let’s practice! (side note of course the day I set aside for shooting for this it was pouring out. All day. Of course it was). Also, I have not edited any of these pictures because I want you to see the logistics of the photo and not any editing.
How To Get Those Blurry Backgrounds
See how the coffee cup is in focus and everything behind it is completely blurred?
1/100, F-stop 2.0, ISO 800
Versus this picture where everything is in focus. You can clearly see the chair behind the coffee cup and make out the details of that car on the street.
1/60, F-stop 10, ISO 6400
I live on a golf course and have such pretty wildlife. I was painstakingly trying to photograph the birds and they kept on flying away. Clearly somebody did not want any exposure. Therefore, I apologize for the stagnant focal points but action shot models were not being cooperative. Okay, moving on.
In focus greenery, blurry golf course in the background. Notice how you can barely make out that red flag.
1/320, F-stop 2, ISO 100
1/100, F-stop 5.6, ISO 200
Shutter speed 1/200, F-stop 2.0, ISO 100
Shutter speed 1/40, F-stop 14, ISO 800
Shutter speed 1/250, F-stop 2.0, ISO 200
Shutter speed 1/30, F-stop 10, ISO 400
See how in this shot there were too many things to focus on, so the front appetizers are blurry, the middle are sharp and the background is blurry. It’s all about trial and error but in this case, too many focal points to get that shot right.
1/160, F-stop 2, ISO 3200
See how much better this one is? In focus front and blurred back bagels. Now I’m wishing for homemade bagels!
1/80, F-stop 4, ISO 1600
1/125, F-stop 2.8, ISO 3200
Now Amanda you will ask me. When will I want to shoot in a lower f-stop? To answer that question, I like to shoot in a lower f-stop when I want to focus on one thing. When you blur the background it places all the emphasis on that one thing you are shooting. Think about when you are shooting makeup, jewelry, or products. Things you want the focus on and then blur the backgrounds out. For fashion photography it is nice to have focus on the outfit, clothes and accessory details and blur out the distracting backgrounds.
Focus on the details, blur the background.
1/320, F-stop 8, ISO 100
Versus take in all the scenery.
1/320, F-Stop 10, ISO 100
Takeaway points. When shooting in a low f-stop, you will have a lot of light come in. If you are outside then you will have to adjust your other two setting to compensate. When shooting scenery it’s better to have your f-stop narrow or the number up high because that will allow you to have the entire shot in focus (without bringing in too much light and over exposing the picture) versus a lower f-stop when you are focusing on a small detail. Does that make sense?
Can you guess which f-stop I used on this one?
Now get out there and practice! Find inspiration in your town and surroundings!Want to learn how to make those blurry backgrounds with your pictures? Check out this… Click To Tweet
I hope you liked this tutorial and if you do please pin away and share! Tell me if you find these helpful so I can continue on with them. Next week we will talk about ISO settings. Make sure to check out my first installment of this series when it comes to avoiding those fashion photography blunders! Hope you are having a great week!