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Soft-Focus Background Effect

 

There's so many styles and new ways of composing portraits these days. Everybody has a special place or background they like to use, but the soft-focus or ''blurry'' background still offers the most interesting look. Whether your background consists of three dimensional trees in a park or a beautiful old master painted background, it will consistently keep the attention concentrated on your subject by reducing the details behind them.


The simplest way is to position the subject as far in front of your background, while keeping in control and not running out material or subject matter around them. Whether it be a wonderful growth of shrubs, a unique brick bldg. or that new X-Drop style cloth background, allowing it to go soft will truly improve and keep the concentration on the portrait.

With most of the DSLR's on the market today, you can go to aperture priority ''A'' on your camera. You can select a wider opening like f2.8, f3.5, f4 which gives  shallow depth-of-field. Most cameras will automatically set the shutter speed to make a proper exposure. Some cameras have an icon with a head on it for ''portrait'' mode. This will also assist in a wider aperture with less depth-of-field, if you're at all hesitant to use your DSLR in ''manual mode.'' To get a bit acquainted with these settings, make some test shots at different apertures to see how it changes your background.

Make sure you keep accurate focus on your subjects eyes when doing a tight focus and see exactly how this simple technique will change your look. This is usually a natural occurrence when using a small aperture and a long focal length. Working a soft background effect into some of your portrait sessions can help you develop a new look for the brand you're trying to create.

If you've captured some interesting portraits with the soft background effect, please share them. We love to share examples of your photos & other tips and ideas! Image provided by Southern Exposure Photography, GA.

 

Comments (1) -

  • william mueller

    10/8/2013 12:40:26 PM |

    The fancy name for this technique is Bokeh. Not only is this good advice for portraiture, shallow depth of field works well for landscapes at times too. Good info Mark.

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