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  1. #1
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    guido2004's Avatar
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    how to make pictures with blurred background?

    When my little compact died, I decided to buy myself a somewhat better camera, and ended up with the Panasonic Lumix FZ45. It took me some getting used to, but it really makes great pictures.

    One thing that's puzzling me though, is how to make pictures that have the background blurred. The 'all automatic' setting usually gives me pictures that have almost everything in focus, even if I zoom in a lot.

    I did some tests setting the focus manually, and when I take shots from very close it works. But the problem is that when zooming, it automatically limits the values I can set by hand, and the minimum depth I can set increases until it gets useless.

    Am I doing something wrong? Or is it a limit of this kind of camera, and does it take a really professional one to make these kind of pictures?

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    I just have an old digital camera (from 2001), but it has a 'portrait' mode, which focuses on an object and blurs the background. Pretty simple.

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    This one has several portrait modes. I'll try them again, and if I can't get it to blur the background I'll be back

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    If you have the ability to set your F-stop and Shutter time, you can do what you want with your camera.

    Without that ability, there may be some digital setting for your camera that will emulate the effect.

    The only other option I know of is to use photo editing software (GIMP will work) and blur the background on a copy of the original photo.
    Each day is a learning experience.

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    I am not a great photographer but i love to capture still. You can use zoom lense and can adjust the focus manually (can change aperture setting) for the targetted object which will blur the background.

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    I didn't have a lot of time, but I managed to make some shots in the garden (alas, I had to do without a human victim... ).

    Just using the 'intelligent' mode, and zooming in, I got this result (see attached image).
    That's exactly what I want. I did have to zoom a lot to get the background that blurred, and fortunately the camera understood what I wanted to focus on.
    It doesn't always understand, sometimes it focusses on some (for me) unimportant detail or some nearby object a little bit in front or behind. That's when I might want to do some manual focussing. Didn't have time to play around with that, unfortunately. Maybe next weekend.

    I also tried the portrait mode, but I must be doing something wrong, because it kept focussing on things way behind the object I wanted to capture. I guess I still have some studying to do.
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    Nice shot, Guido.

    Quote Originally Posted by guido2004 View Post
    I also tried the portrait mode, but I must be doing something wrong, because it kept focussing on things way behind the object I wanted to capture.
    Yes, I have to move my old camera around a bit (and forward and back) to help it focus where I want it to.

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    It's only your lens that makes the image.
    2 properties your lens should have to give you more blur:
    - a larger aperture
    - a higher focal length

    A prime lens mostly has both properties.
    For example: a 105mm f1.4 gives low depth of field, so more blure before and after your object.
    In contrary: a 28mm f8 gives high depth of field, so less blur before and after your object, ideally for landscapes and panoramas.

    Aperture:
    A small aperture gives depth to a larger field. So a larger aperture makes this field smaller.

    Focal Length:
    Two focal lengths compared with the same aperture settings, give you a different depth of field when shooting the same object at the same light conditions. The setting with the higher focal length gives a better result with less depth of field, and more blur before and after your object.

    A higher focal lenth (going more to tele lens) is also very handy when you shoot portraits, so you don't have to be so short too your object or model.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bulevardi View Post
    It's only your lens that makes the image.
    2 properties your lens should have to give you more blur:
    - a larger aperture
    - a higher focal length

    A prime lens mostly has both properties.
    For example: a 105mm f1.4 gives low depth of field, so more blure before and after your object.
    In contrary: a 28mm f8 gives high depth of field, so less blur before and after your object, ideally for landscapes and panoramas.

    Aperture:
    A small aperture gives depth to a larger field. So a larger aperture makes this field smaller.

    Focal Length:
    Two focal lengths compared with the same aperture settings, give you a different depth of field when shooting the same object at the same light conditions. The setting with the higher focal length gives a better result with less depth of field, and more blur before and after your object.

    A higher focal lenth (going more to tele lens) is also very handy when you shoot portraits, so you don't have to be so short too your object or model.
    This camera has a fixed lens:

    Quote Originally Posted by Panasonic website
    Aperture F2.8 - 5.2 / Multistage Iris Diaphragm (F2.8 - 8 (W) / F5.2 - 8 (T)) / (F2.8 - 11 (W) / F5.2 - 11 (T) in movie recording )
    Focal Length f=4.5-108mm (25-600mm in 35mm equiv.) / (31-735mm in 35mm equiv. in movie recording)
    But, when I zoom, the min/max values I can set change (I don't remember exactly, but I think that zooming the min aperture I can set isn't F2.8 anymore, but goes up).

    But, like I said, I'll have to test some more.

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    Quote Originally Posted by guido2004 View Post
    But, when I zoom, the min/max values I can set change (I don't remember exactly, but I think that zooming the min aperture I can set isn't F2.8 anymore, but goes up).
    Indeed, with this zoom lens your aperture starts at f2.8 in a wide position (to shoot panorama), and when zooming in it starts at f5.2 (for portraits).
    It is a variable aperture when zooming.

    This f5.2 says you will not be able to shoot these images as blurry as with an f2.8 aperture at the same focal length.

    For this, you need to have at max f2.8 when zoomed in. This is only possible with more expensive lenses. It's affordable with a primes lens (non-zoom), but most affordable zoom lenses have not large apertures.
    A zoom lens with a fixed f2.8 aperture would be good for these blurry images, but is really expensive.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bulevardi View Post
    Indeed, with this zoom lens your aperture starts at f2.8 in a wide position (to shoot panorama), and when zooming in it starts at f5.2 (for portraits).
    It is a variable aperture when zooming.

    This f5.2 says you will not be able to shoot these images as blurry as with an f2.8 aperture at the same focal length.

    For this, you need to have at max f2.8 when zoomed in. This is only possible with more expensive lenses. It's affordable with a primes lens (non-zoom), but most affordable zoom lenses have not large apertures.
    A zoom lens with a fixed f2.8 aperture would be good for these blurry images, but is really expensive.
    Thanks for the explanation, I think I understand. I'm glad it's not me
    So I'll just play around a bit with it and see what I can do with this lens.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bulevardi View Post
    Aperture:
    A small aperture gives depth to a larger field. So a larger aperture makes this field smaller.
    You can 'fool' the camera and force a larger aperature by shooting in lower light levels.
    Anohter trick is to force the automatic camera to focus on an object closer than your subject. [Almost] all digitial cameras will set the focus when you depress the shutter part-way down. By finding (or even inserting) an object between you and the subject you can force the focus on that object. This shift of focus will push your subject to the farthest reaches of the Depth-of-Field and provide the effect you desire.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ParkinT View Post
    You can 'fool' the camera and force a larger aperature by shooting in lower light levels.
    Anohter trick is to force the automatic camera to focus on an object closer than your subject. [Almost] all digitial cameras will set the focus when you depress the shutter part-way down. By finding (or even inserting) an object between you and the subject you can force the focus on that object. This shift of focus will push your subject to the farthest reaches of the Depth-of-Field and provide the effect you desire.
    Cool, I'll try that 'closer object' trick.
    And what do you mean by shooting in lower light levels?

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    Quote Originally Posted by ParkinT View Post
    You can 'fool' the camera and force a larger aperature by shooting in lower light levels.
    If you set everything manually, you can set a larger aperture, no mather what light condition you have.

    With manual settings (m), or in this case perhaps just (a), the camera cannot force a larger aperture by changing the light conditions. It's up to yourself to change these settings.
    If you shoot with a setting like "fixed shutterspeed only" (s), the aperture will be variable set by the camera. In a lower light level, the aperture will automatically get wider until the maximum.
    But if it's already at maximum, you cannot force a larger aperture any further.

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    I've got a forerunner to this camera and the explanations above cover your situation well. In order to get that blurred effect there are a couple of things that you are limited by technically - your lens (it's attached) and the ISO (or how sensitive the camera is to light). The other factor is the distance between your subject and the background you are trying to make appear blurry.

    To ensure that you are shooting at the most open aperture for the lens I suggest putting it into 'A' mode as Bulevardi suggested. The camera should adjust the rest of the settings to ensure an appropriate exposure.

    The other thing to do is stand your model away from things in the background eg. walls etc. If you want to add another component try shooting in about 100-200mm range. There's debate about the most flattering focal length for portraits but this will give you a good wide open aperture still and help to flatten the background and blur it.

    The suggestion of Portrait mode is a good one. It basically puts the camera into Auto mode for selecting a small aperture, but you lose a little bit of control as the camera is still adjusting everything automatically it is just biasing itself to how it makes those decisions to a portrait setting. Personally I'd stick with 'A' mode and playing some more to discover what you like the most.

    Just as a note, the relationship between ISO, aperture, lens length and shutter speed are usually covered by most basic photography books. Some are better than others but once you understand these well, then you will find you can get the camera to do what you want it to more easily. I'd grab a book from the library or look online for something friendly when you have the time.

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    To make the background you need to have plenty of space behind your subject and use the lens as wide open as you can get (small F number)
    Derbyshire wedding photographers Neal Morgan BA(Hons) LBIPP

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    If the subject is moving, as is the car seen in the picture below, move the camera to follow the subject and keep it sharp while blurring the background. Try different shutter speeds to balance the background blur you want against subject blur you don't want - try 1/125 second to start. Keep your body and the camera as steady as possible, track the subject through the viewfinder and ensure your camera is focusing properly on the subject, and take the photo. This technique uses the blurred background to highlight the motion of the subject, whereas background blurred solely through a shallow depth of field is used to make the subject stand out from its surroundings.
    Last edited by DaveMaxwell; Jun 15, 2011 at 06:41. Reason: removed link

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    I managed to make portrait mode shots with a blurred background. But I need to zoom in a lot to get the background to blur really good, and that means I have to keep a certain distance from the object (otherwise I'd end up with a picture of a part of the face), and that means there has to be really a lot of space between the subject and the background. The succesful portrait pictures were made in the open fields around the village where my parents live. Lots of open space there.

    This is no problem when shooting flowers for example, because I can zoom in from close distance, and the background blurs nicely even if it's not so far behind the flower.

    I still have to try with the 'A' mode.

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    A mode ( aperture ) is the mode you want. The bigger the aperture number the bigger the depth of field; check out this site: Online Depth of Field Calculator You can print out a calculator to assemble but if you have an Ipod there is an App? Do not have one but I think its what it is called!
    As mentioned it also depends on the amount you have zoomed in, focal length, distance from object etc.

    S mode ( shutter ) is more for fast moving objects where you can select the shutter speed.

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    I'm a better image editor than a photo taker so I would take an in focus photo and then add special effects - blurring background etc etc - in Photoshop.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bulevardi View Post
    With manual settings (m), or in this case perhaps just (a), the camera cannot force a larger aperture by changing the light conditions. It's up to yourself to change these settings.
    If you shoot with a setting like "fixed shutterspeed only" (s), the aperture will be variable set by the camera. In a lower light level, the aperture will automatically get wider until the maximum.
    But if it's already at maximum, you cannot force a larger aperture any further.
    Thanks for clarifying my comment. I was 'assuming' the camera was automatic and the ONLY way to achieve a larger aperature was to force it by lowering the light level.

    And you make a good point about the limit of the aperature; which I had not even considered.
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    Quote Originally Posted by guido2004 View Post
    I didn't have a lot of time, but I managed to make some shots in the garden (alas, I had to do without a human victim... ).
    Nice effort and i thought that you are asking that how to make an background blurred of a image in some software. Let me tell you that it can be done easily in adobe photoshop with selection tool.

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    Sounds like its already been covered, but I think the simplest way if your not totally confident with working manually would be to work on aperture priority and use a very low aperture - however low your lens will allow you to go. 50 mm 1.8 lenses are very cheap and really great for shooting soft, low aperture pictures. They're really flattering for portraits.

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    Quote Originally Posted by webdev1958 View Post
    I'm a better image editor than a photo taker so I would take an in focus photo and then add special effects - blurring background etc etc - in Photoshop.
    Me too. I'm not good in taking photos so I use Photoshop to blur the backround.

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    One cool trick is to use the macro mode, and move the camera close to the subject. Combine with optical zoom to find the right distance to fit the subject in the frame.


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