How to blur the backround in a family picture

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    Ernest Lloyd

    Hi, I am going to take some family pictures next week and I am wondering how to blur the background in group picture while getting everybody tack sharp? How do you get a blurred-background family photo when the group covers most of the frame in the photo?
    I hope that makes sense 🙂 .

    Logan Lamar

    Hi Ernest! (I think this is one of your first posts, so welcome to Lenspiration!)

    It is possible to do what you’re thinking, as I’ve seen it done before even with a group.
    You’ll need to take control of your DSLR a bit to make this happen, though.

    Try to remember the three “rules” of creating the blurred background, or “bokeh”.
    1. Wide aperture. Put your camera into Aperture Priority Mode (A or Av mode), and pick a low F/number (the lower the number, the wider the aperture [the hole the light comes in through on the lens]). For an individual portrait, as wide as you have is typically good (2.8 or 3.2). For groups, however, you need to be a bit more careful. If you have two different rows of people, the area of ground that is in focus might be too small. Your camera might make the back row of people be out of focus if your aperture is too wide! Pick a number around f/5.0 or f/5.6 to try and avoid this problem.
    2. Longish focal length.
    This is the same for both individuals and group shots. You want to have a long(ish) focal length as wide-angle lenses don’t blur the background very much. This means you’ll want to zoom in to about 55mm and take quite a few steps back. It’s okay if you’re twenty feet away from your group!
    3. Distance between your subject and the background.
    The further your subject(s) are away from the background, the better.

    Hope this helps, and good luck! From looking at your bio, it looks like you just got your first DSLR. If anything doesn’t make sense, just ask and I’ll be happy to explain further.


    Logan Lamar

    Last thing. If you have a longer focal length than 55 (there should be numbers on your lens that you can match it up with), that will also work well. We did a group shot with an 85mm and the camera about twenty or thirty feet away on a tripod and it looked great.

    Good luck!

    Ernest Lloyd

    Thanks a lot Logan Lamar! That will really help.
    I think the aperture idea is what I was missing last time I tried to shoot a group photo.
    I had low f-stop numbers but the group was layered and some people were out of focus , so some pictures didn’t turn out totally focused.
    Thanks again -Ernest

    Eliana Franzenburg

    To expand on what @loganlamar said, the distance is very important to get the background blur you want. I don’t have as much experience with groups but with individual portraits if you have an aperture of f/8 you need to be at least 6 feet away from your background to get it blurred.

    When I do have groups I’ll usually start with about f/8 then just play around with it if you have more people.

    Also one tip I read once for focusing with large groups is to focus on the person in the middle front row and that should make look pretty good depending on the aperture.

    Hope that helps!

    Ernest Lloyd

    Thanks for the ideas @elianafranzenburg!
    I’ll definitely try the distance from the background technique.
    – Ernest

Viewing 6 posts - 1 through 6 (of 6 total)

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