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Help to blur background when objects further away

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Hey guys so I have the Sony a6000 and I intend to take mainly travel photos with me in them. Basically, I want photos where I am standing a couple of meters away so my whole body is in the shot, and then cool backgrounds (for example sea and palm trees or fields or mountains). However, I want me to be fully sharp and then the background to be slightly blurry, and I can’t figure out what settings to use for this. It’s easy when you are doing closeup portraits to blur the background but when I’m further away the whole image gets sharp instead.. I have the kit lens and am a complete newbie at photography :/ Thanks guys!!!

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1. Put camera in A mode (aperture priority)

2. On the bottom of your screen, you’ll see an “F” followed by a number. Using the thumbwheel, get this number as low as you can. This will be between 3.5-5 depending on how far you have the lens zoomed.

3. You can try zooming in all of the way in (50mm) and moving as far back as you can to get the photo. Sometimes being zoomed in helps get depth of field. I realize if you shoot wider (18mm for example) the number on the kit lens lets you get that F number even lower, but since you are further away from your subject sometimes this still leaves everything in focus.


It can be tricky to get strong depth of field when shooting at wide angle, especially with the kit lens. Other lenses that have lower F numbers, such as the 28mm F2.8 or 35mm 1.8, will make depth of field easier by simply lowering the F number. I would try to keep that F number as low as you can, and play around with zoom and positioning yourself further back or closer to the subject. Shooting wide angle will make it a bit tricky to get strong depth of field though, especially with the kit lens.


I’m making some general statements here, but hopefully this is a good start for your issue.

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Guest Jaf-Photo

Well, you should be as close to the lens as possible. The bigger the ratio is between your distance to the background and your distance to the camera, the more blur do you get. If the camera focuses too far away, pretty much everything will be in focus.

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Hi Martina, welcome.

Shoot with widest aperture (smallest f number depends upon your lens) in aperture priority...this allows you to choose the f stop

Zoom in as much as possible and the closer to the camera you and your subject are the better.

Make certain the camera focuses on you/subject, not the background.

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One of the most important points, which Jaf-Photo mentioned, is that you need a good distance between you and your background. The further away, the more blurred it appears. You can often control this by selecting your background carefully. When you know your lenses well, you can select the right background at the right distance to get good 'circles of confusion' and creamy bokeh.



1) Lowest aperture (f-stop) you can get away with under the light conditions.

2) Longest zoom lens that will give you the kind of shot you want, zoomed in as fully as is practicable.

3) Camera as close to you as you can get it at that focal length and still keep you as sharp as possible.

4) Largest distance between you and the background to get the amount of blur you want in the background.

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Regardless of your camera's settings, you will always have a "depth of field", meaning, that the focus doesn't apply to just one precise distance from the camera, but rather to a distance range from the near end of the depth of field to far end of the depth of field. Everything in between those two distances will be in focus. Things nearer to the camera than the near end of the depth of field will be out of focus, i.e. blurred, and things farther from the camera than the far end of the depth of field range will also be out of focus.


A wide aperture (low number) will give you a narrow depth of field range, while a small aperture (high number) will give you a wide depth of field range, as already many in this thread have said before.


If you want to be in focus, while you want the background to be blurred, make sure you are as close as possible to the far end of the depth of field for your given settings. This will give you a crisp foreground, including yourself, while the blurred area will start "immediately" behind you.


Since you are new to this topic, it may be tricky for you to find out just where the limits of the depth of field are for your lens and settings. On legacy lenses, there used to be some nifty engravings to that regard, like this:


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This sample lense is currently set to an aperture of 11 (left ring) , which is a rather large number, giving you a small aperture and a huge depth of field range, ranging from ~1,8m to infinity (center ring), all marked in blue. This is definitely not what you want. As advised, you would try to set the aperture to the lowest possible number, say: 2.8 (whatever the lowest aperture number is that your lens supports). I've marked that in green:


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This would give you a depth of field range ranging from ~3m to ~5m (marked in green). In that case, you would want to place yourself at a distance of ~5m from the camera, which is the far end of the depth of field for that setting.


Remember: this is just an example. Actual values for your lens will probably vary. BUt the same principle applies nonetheless.

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What can you do if your lens does not feature these "depth of field" markings? Let your camera's autofocus do the work for you. But how?

Well, an autofocus will typically start moving the internals of your lens in an arbitrary direction. If it detects, that the area to focus gets more blurred that way, it will reverse the direction of its movement. If it detects, that the sharpness increases, it will continue its movement until it detects the first drop in sharpness. At which point it will retract a little bit and call this "in focus".

If you want the autofocus to place you at the far end of the depth of field range (see my previous post), you will want to first manually focus something very near, without actually shooting, then switch to autofocus. In which case the autofocus will travel through the whole depth of field, starting at the near end, until it stops at the far end of the depth of field. Et voilá! that's where you want it to be. Shoot!  :)

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