Isolating your subject can create a powerful image, but have you ever found yourself wondering how to keep your subject sharp while blurring the background? There are two simple keys to achieving this effect:
- Get close to your subject, while maximizing the distance between your subject and the background
- Use a large aperture (smaller f-number)
The larger aperture, e.g. f/4, will create a shallow depth of field, which means your subject will be sharp, but anything closer to, or further away from the camera will appear blurry (the opposite is true for smaller apertures, e.g. f/22, where you will have a greater depth of field and more of the image in focus).
Another valuable tip is to get as low as possible, even slightly below your subject. This will eliminate the ground and other low distractions. Getting down eye level to your subject often creates a far more appealing image.
The dragonfly above is a Twelve-spotted Skimmer. I was about six feet from the dragonfly, and the background several yards further back. The blue in the background is a gap in the green canopy of oak trees. I had my camera “just-in-case” I saw something interesting… I’m very glad I brought it that day.
Technical Details of the Photograph
- Camera: Rebel XTi
- Lens: EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM
- F-Stop: f/7.1
- Focal Length: 400 mm
- Exposure: 1/250th
- Tripod: None (handheld)