Question about FUJIFILM S4000 Black 14.0 MP 24mm Wide Angle Digital Camera
I want to take portrait shots where the subject is in focus and the background is blurry - any tips?
What you are asking about is called depth of field. Boiled down, it means that there is a certain amount of area in an image that is in focus, given the focal length of the lens, the aperture (size of the shutter opening) and some other factors. There's a lot of theory behind it, but you just want to know how to accomplish that creative blur behind the subject, right?
If your camera has the capability to choose the aperture, known as the f-stop, either with a manual mode or an aperture-priority mode, then this is pretty easy. The larger the aperture (size of shutter opening) the smaller the depth of field, which means only a small area is in focus. The aperture, or f-stop, is denoted with numbers like F/2.8 or F/8, etc. The lower the number, the bigger the aperture and the more background blur you will get. There is an inverse relation ship between shutter opening and speed, too. A big opening like F2.8 means a faster shutter speed, versus a small opening like F/22. Every lens is different, so your aperture options will vary.
If your camera does not allow you to choose the aperture, it may still have a "scene" setting you can use. A "portrait" or "night" setting usually has a bigger aperture than, say, a "landscape" setting.
Other factors also contribute to creating background blur. All else being equal, the blur increases as you move closer to the subject or as you zoom in on the subject with a zoom lens. Also, having greater space between the background and your subject increases blur.
So, to maximize background blur and create a shallow depth of field, you want to pick the largest aperture possible (smallest f-stop number), you want to get close to the subject and extend your zoom as much as you can, and you want to maximize the distance between the subject and the start of any background objects. Your success will depend in part on your camera and lenses.
If all else fails, you can also artificially create the background blur in software after the image is taken, but that's another story!
Posted on Dec 16, 2010
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