Have you been following my tips for taking great craft photos for the amateur? Remember, these are simple tips and tricks for the lil' ole crafter who needs to take some professional looking photos, for whatever reason that may be. If you'd like to read past posts, you can read them here.
Today, we'll be looking at creating a "blurry" background. Yes, before I get a rush of emails from professional photographers...I know all about using the aperture and depth of field etc, BUT, remember these tips are for your everyday amateur photographer. If you'd like more professional photography tips there are plenty of great blogs that will give you advice on using the manual mode on your camera.
So, let's begin. You may have seen some great photos on the web and in magazines of delicious recipes, tablescapes, garden scenes etc and one thing a lot of these great photos have in common is a blurry background. The main subject is in focus, whilst the props in the background are out of focus and a bit blurry. This photography technique is created by professionals by creating a short depth of field. Photographers use this technique to keep focus on the main subject, but still have objects in the background which complement the subject matter and add details and points of interest to the photo.
I'll first say that you do have greater control of these effects when photographing in the manual mode on your camera, but this requires a lot of camera knowledge and lots of trial and error. So, to create this same effect you can do so, using the auto modes on your camera- just by tweaking a few things.
Firstly, you will need to photograph in the macro mode, or "close-up" setting on your camera. This is the flower picture you'll see on the dial on top of your camera. The macro setting is used when you want to take close up photos of something in detail.
So set up your photo shoot. Make sure you have your subject, your hero of the photo, at the front. Add some points of interest to the background. Are you photographing a finished recipe? Perhaps you could add some ingredients or flowers to the background. You get the idea.
Here's a shot of the image used in the title photo again.
Let's have at how this photo was actually set up. Here's the same photo but from above.
I have the teacup, in the foreground (she's the hero), then in the mid-ground I have the macarons and bits and pieces and then in the background I have the teapot. Each prop is placed 1 ft apart from each other.
Once you have your subject matter set up and your image styled, grab our camera and set it to the macro setting.
Using this setting and the auto-focus function on your camera, you can create a"blurry" and out of focus background. Aim your camera at the hero, use your auto focus and make sure that the focus points are on the "hero" in the front of your shot, the background props will automatically go out of focus (you will see your focus points when you look through your camera). The photos on the above left are taken this way. The photo on the above right has been taken with the focus points not on the cup and cake in the front, but the focus points were on the teapot at the back. The props in the front are now out of focus.
By playing around with the automatic focus points on the camera and the objects in the photo, you can achieve different effects.
Let's look at the teacup and teapot setting again.
Let's have another look at the row of teacups to get more of an idea.
Here's how they were actually positioned. Here's a photo taken from above so you can actually see how they were placed.
By using the macro setting and your focus points you can make different parts of the shot stand out and other parts blur. If your background is still not blurry enough...try taking a few steps backwards, this will help too. So maybe you have an embroidery just finished. Try placing the embroidery in the front with a few sewing bits and bobs in the background. See how you go and experiment with the macro setting.
Love to hear how you go.