How To Get That Blurry Background In Your Photos + Video

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A blurry background is a popular technique amongst photographers and videographers. The technical term is bokeh, and when done right it can really make your subject matter stand out! But recently, I was asked by a fellow blogger that specializes in fashion, how they could make the background in their images even more blurry and I figured the information I shared with her could be helpful to others!

Whether you are taking a product image, a fashion image, filming a youtube video or travel photos, bokeh can give your image that “professional” look. It’s actually pretty simple to do, and the interesting thing is that you can control how pronounced the blurry background is by doing a few simple things.

blurry backgrounds, photography tips, tips for photography
Background Photo by Alex Iby on Unsplash
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Tip #1 Move Further away from the Background (or move the product further away)

The first thing you can try is to stepping away from the background or moving the product further away. The more distance you create between the background and your subject, the more blurry the background will become.

Here is an example:

blurry background

Here you can see that I used the same settings on the camera, the only difference is that I created more distance between the background and the subject.

Tip #2 Adjust Your Camera Settings

If you don’t have the room to move that freely but you still want that blurry background, try adjusting your camera settings. This tip works best with a lower aperture lens, which is 2.8 or less. One trick I like to use is opening the lens all the way (aka, lowering the aperture to the lowest setting) and raising the shutter (making the shutter number higher) this effect can create a really nice bokeh without you moving at all.

blurry background

In this example, I did not move the products, I simply changed the settings.

TIP: be wary of using this trick when filming video. There are more limitations to shutter speed when you are working with video. If you raise your shutter speed to high, you will walk away with choppy footage.

However, It can be done, this technique is best used for b-roll type shots and not your main footage though.

Tip #3 Use Different Equipment

If neither of these is an option and you are looking to experiment with different equipment, I recommend trying some longer or prime lenses.

Prime lenses are lenses that have no focal range, this means you can not zoom. Longer lenses are lenses that have a lot of zoom range. Both are great for bokeh as long as they have a lower aperture range (2.8 or less).

Here are some lenses I recommend for Canon and Nikon

Prime Lenses

Canon 35mm f/1.4 II USM  Or Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM

Nikon 35mm f/1.4 Or Nikon 85mm f/1.4

Telephoto Lenses

Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS II Or Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR II

These lenses come with a pretty hefty price tag if you are looking to buy. One thing you could do is try renting them to make sure you like them first. There are many places that offer rentals, I recommend Aperturent. You can pick up at one of their locations or have it shipped to you! If you decide to rent with them, let them know I sent you and you can get 10% off your first order!

If you are ready to buy and looking for an alternative that is more cost-effective, I recommend taking a look at the Sigma brand to shave off a few bucks. I own the Sigma 50mm Art lens and I love it it’s great! They also have the Sigma 35mm in Canon and Nikon and the 85mm as well.

There are also lenses with the same focal length that aren’t in the “professional” grade line. They are still great lenses! I’ve got some posts on the way that will compare consumer lenses with professional lenses. Those will be out very soon!

Hopefully, these suggestions will help you get that beautiful blurry background you seek! If you have any questions, feel free to drop me a line!

What tips do you have to get really nice bokeh? Looking forward to your take!

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Olivia Johnson
Olivia Johnson is a videographer, photographer and freelance writer in the Atlanta, GA area. She works with soloprenuers and businesses to create video content that resonates with their audiences. Her full-service video production company, Silver Iris Entertainment specializes in commercials, business profiles, and event videography. She is also the founder and main contributor at Creatlivity, a lifestyle blog for women in business. She contributes articles about entrepreneurship, marketing, videography, photography, and tech.
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