Photography Assignments: Beautiful Blurry Background Bokeh!

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Photography Assignments: Beautiful Blurry Background Bokeh!

Postby blue-eden » Sat Aug 07, 2010 11:53 am

I think it's a great idea (see Heartchya's thread) to do weekly assignments that everyone can do! Ones that will work for all skill levels, with whatever equipment you have, and with or without editing programs.

One thing people really want to learn is how to get that "blurred background" effect, so they can isolate their subject and get rid of the background distractions.
So let's work on that!

This will work with any camera. With any lens, as long as you choose an aperture that is fairly wide open. Use it alongside the Depth of Focus calculator to see how close you have to be from your subject to get your subject in focus.

http://www.dofmaster.com/dofjs.html

Let's say you have a lens that only opens as wide as F4. This is a pretty wide open aperture, but also one that you can get good focus with even if you have trouble getting in focus shots (very wide aps like 1.8 are difficult if you haven't practiced nailing focus, but F4 is pretty easy).

To get that blurred effect, simply have your aperture set to as wide open as you dare. Then put your subject a distance from a background, like flowers or whatnot. The higher the number of your aperture # (ie. the more closed down it is, higher than F4) the further from your background your subject will probably have to be and there comes a point where you can't get the blurred effect at all. And shoot close up to your subject - shooting from 10 feet away will not work as if you were shooting from 3 feet!

The lens you have (kit lenses aren't the best for this, and my 35 mm has crappy bokeh compared to the 85 mm 1/4), how wide open you shoot, how close you are to your subject, and how far from the background your subject is will all influence how blurry the background is. But if you shoot close up, pretty wide open and keep your subject away from walls etc, then you should get a fairly isolated subject and a background that is less distracting :)


Can't wait to see the shots!
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Postby laurab007 » Sat Aug 07, 2010 8:52 pm

When are these due? I need a deadline or I'm useless. :oops: I took a bunch of pics this weekend to work on my composition, so I should be good, but I may have some time this week to work on this and be more deliberate about it.
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Postby AnchorsAway » Mon Aug 09, 2010 1:18 pm

I've been lurking here for a while because I'm so new to all this! I'm at work so I'm just going to pull from a picture that I have available. This one was taken with a 35mm with F-Stop at 2. I know I went crazy with the vignette (I had just learned how to do it in PS, LOL)!!!

ETA: I just realized that DS is wearing the same shirt in this pic as in my profile pic... I promise he owns some more clothes!!!

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Postby bluebell34 » Mon Aug 09, 2010 1:27 pm

I would love to join in here. I'v been way too nervous to post any pics but really like this idea. I'll be back tomorrow :D
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Postby Babydreamer1326 » Mon Aug 09, 2010 8:30 pm

LOL Neysa! Carter is too cute!

Here are a few shots from me :wink:

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Deztyni Dezyrae, 7/13/06
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Caydyn Tayeshaun, 9/26/07
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Layla Tymprynce, 3/20/09
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Postby blue-eden » Tue Aug 10, 2010 5:54 am

How much CC do people want on their images?

JUST as it relates to the thing we're doing (blurry backgrounds)? Or other suggestions like how to improve composition, white balance, focus issues, colour issues and colour casts, blown whites and clipped blacks, flat lighting, how to work the light better, etc?

Right now, my main focus is on creativity, composition and working with the light (avoiding flat light, working with shadows, finding the right time of day to shoot for the right emotion, effect, etc). This is where I'd appreciate CC. I've worked hard with my mentor on focus, colour, white balance, and how to get rid of casts.

I've taken some pics this week, but I'm not home and have forgotten my USB for my computer. D'oh!
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Postby Christina-BFPinMT » Tue Aug 10, 2010 10:05 am

I would appreciate all CC :) I'm new and have been intimidated to post! But I just got a new camera and I am finally going to buckle down and learn it. No excuses, no laziness!! :D Here is my admission. Please ignore the fact that my daughter has freak nails that grow so fast and sometimes I don't realize they are so long! I promise I cut them after I saw them in this picture!

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Postby Jen_Jackson » Tue Aug 10, 2010 12:36 pm

Okay, so I need to learn how to use my camera, so I am going to start here! These are some pics I took in my backyard today. I want to take some more of my other girls, but they are soaking wet from swimming in the pool right now!

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Postby heartchya » Tue Aug 10, 2010 8:11 pm

I plan to finally do this assignment tomorrow. It is so hot here, it is hard to get outside. I mean it is HOT!!!!

I would like CC on anything, but just know, I won't know what you're talking about most of the time. :D

Loved all the pics so far! Babydreamer, I have you on FB and love seeing your shoots.

Jen, I think those are great, especially since you're knew at this!

Christina, I love the heart idea! I would like to try that, but no way dd would go for it.
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Postby Christina-BFPinMT » Fri Aug 13, 2010 8:29 am

Thank you, dd is 4 and is getting more nice to the camera ;)

I'm hoping we get some more posters in here!!
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Postby blue-eden » Mon Aug 23, 2010 12:44 am

I didn't shoot much on vacation, but I did get one or two.


50 mm lens. iso 200, F2.5, SS 1/2500

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My CC on the photos above. All JMO and I'm certainly no pro! Just what stands out to me:

Anchors Away: he is adorable! The colours looks really good, but he does have some hot spots on his arms and face where the sun is hitting it. Maybe try to keep him out of dappled light, and find some shade? Nice blurry background!

Laura, so cute!
1- some channels are blown that won't print well. The flower is front and center and is what my eye goes to, rather than the subject. Hot spots on her skin where it's blown. Totally cute outfit! I wish her foot wasn't chopped off. LOVE that location!
2 - focus looks off, his hair looks sharper. Green in his hair, and other colour is off in his skintones. Closing down a bit will get his whole face in focus. I love the comp on this one! I struggle to get good comps! I love how you captured his natural expression! nice!
3 - A little too contrasty (just for my tastes) Her hair is clipped and there are blown spots on her skin (white, lost all definition). She's so pretty, I love how you captured a moody look! Her braid is awkward, would look nicer pushed back. It reminds me of a beard coming out of her chin. I would also clone the metal part of her hairclip (bottom of the braid). I love the urban location here and how you framed her against the windows!

Christina, this is SUCH a cute idea! I love it! I love how you can just see a little bit of her face at the bottom, this is very lifestyle to me! Lovely bokeh at the back!

Jen, so sweet with that little flower in her hair! I can see this as part of a storyboard (picking the flower, shot of the flower, etc). Her skin looks a little orange/red but the exposure is pretty good and I like how you used the light here with some gentle shadows on the left. Good light in her eyes.

Please CC my photo if you have time! I added some red to the shadows, to warm it up a bit (erased off her skin, which is pretty tan). I wish she was wearing different shoes that matched, argh! And she has spots on her dress (this was taken at the restaurant we had just eaten at!). I wish I had a reflector too, but this was taken on vacay.
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Postby luvin » Sat Sep 11, 2010 6:27 pm

My new camera has a setting for this. I'm going out tomorrow to take pics, I'll post one if I'm not to late to the challenge. :D
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Postby luvin » Thu Sep 23, 2010 7:22 am

Here's my try! :D
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aaaand, my baby
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