We’re at the halfway point between back to school and Halloween, so it’s a great time to look at how to take portraits or “people shots” that look great.

Ever seen portraits where the subject is in focus but the background is blurry, which helps the subject to really “pop”?

Shot by the author with an aperture of f1.8, close to subject with background about 10 feet behind.

While this look is used by¬†professionals, you don’t need to be a pro to take advantage of.¬† In these shots the photographer is using a wide aperture to reduce the “depth of field” in the photo. In plain English, this means they are setting the lens so it allows lots of light in but focuses only on the subject, with very little in front or behind the subject being in focus.

If you have a digital camera that you can adjust the aperture on, you simply set the aperture to the smallest number you can (typical apertures are f1.8, f2.8, f4, f5.6, f8, etc). Ideally you’ll set the aperture to below f4. Again, the lower the better in this instance.

If you have a point and shoot camera, you may well have a Portrait mode, which automatically does the same thing.

If you have a camera without adjustable aperture or a Portrait mode, a good trick is to set your ISO as low as possible (i.e. 100). This increases the quality of the shot, but also means the camera needs more light to get the picture. Because of this, it will automatically set a wide aperture and should achieve the result you need.

As with all techniques, it’s a great idea to test this out and get the result you want BEFORE you have a big event you want to capture.

Happy Shooting!

Comments are closed.