3 Simple Tips for Dreamy Background Blur in Photography

One of the questions I get asked a LOT is how to get those soft, dreamy, velvety blurred backgrounds in photography, so that your subject subject seems to pop right off the screen, and the whole image has that wonderful 3 dimensional quality to it. 

So, that's exactly what I'm going to cover today, with 3 simple tips that can help get your background super blurry and dreamy. You can use each tip on it's own to get better background blur, or use them TOGETHER for maximum impact! 

Let's dive right in shall we?

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If you are new to photography, and are not sure how to blur out the background in the first place (never mind getting tips to  maximise it!) then have a quick read through of this post How to Get A Blurred Background" - it walks you step by step through how to do this. 

 

Tip#1 - Use a longer focal length 

This is such a simple tip for getting better background blur - because all you need to do is switch out to a longer length lens!

(OK OK, it's simple, but expensive 😂)

The reason is that the longer focal length compresses the background, magnifying the blur and make it seem more out of focus. 

So you'll get more dramatic blur with a 200mm over a 50mm lens, even if everything else remains the same. 

Any telephoto focal length is good for this, which is pretty much anything 85mm and over.  (Do keep in  mind that if you have a cropped frame camera, due to the "crop factor", this would be anything over a 50mm.  Although the focal length is still 50mm, it 'acts" more like an 85mm! Not sure what I'm talking about? Read this post "What do the numbers on your lens mean") 

If you currently have a zoom lens, zoom all the way in to and use the longest focal length your zoom allows, so that you get more blur. 

Don't have a longer length lens? Then don't worry, you can still maximise blur with the other two tips :) 

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Tip #2 - Pull Subject From the Background 

This next tip requires no extra gear at all you'll be happy to know!

In order to get even more blur in the background, pull your subject as far away from it as possible. 

Simply increasing the distance between the background and your subject will increase the blur! 

In this example below, the subject is a good 3 meters away from the background, helping give that soft dreamy feel. 

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Tip #3 - Use a Larger Aperture 

Larger apertures give you a smaller area in the focus, and allow the area outside that "in focus" area to fall off into blur.

You get a more dramatic fall off in blur by using smaller F numbers, such as F2.0 or even F1.4. 

There is a bit of a balancing act here, because it's critical that you get your subject in focus, and that can be REALLY difficult to do when using these larger apertures, so use as large an aperture you can, all whilst keeping one beady eye of your depth of field. 

So if you are not yet confident in your focusing abilities, don't go too far with this one!  

If you'd like a cheat sheet that will walk you through getting amazing background blur step by step, plus a cheat sheet that details which apertures you should be using for different subjects, be sure to download our free aperture and background blur guide! 

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