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Create layers with that blurry back ground

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In my resent blog “Composition 101: part 1: Layers” I talked about creating depth in a photo by using layers.  This blog we’re going to build on that and show you how to create that depth in layers with a blurry background. This is often seen in portraits to focus on the person not his or her surroundings.

IllustrationTo do this we will have to start with a quick explanation of the term focal stop or the f-stop.

Keeping it simple the f-stop determines how much of the picture is in focus.

As we look at the illustration I have divided it into two sides with the same subject. The subject on the left represents  f-stop of 2.8 while the subject on the right represents f-stop 32. In a book or magazine you would read it as f/2.8 and f/32.  The f/2.8 has a large opening.  The f/32 has a small opening.

As you see the f/2.8 has a short range of focus; only part of our subject is in focus.  Compared to f/32 where not only is the complete subject but also the foreground and the background are in focus.  This is known as your “depth of field.”

Remember as you adjust your f-stop you also had to adjust your shutter speed to balance out your exposure.  F/2.8 will need a much faster shutter speed than f/32 but this

another lesson.

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To show you this principle I set up a shot earlier today. I set my camera on a tripod and I focused on the statues eye. Then I arranged objects in the setting to created pleasing composition.

From that point I adjusted only the f/stop and shutter speed to take two photos.

In this first photo f/32 was used, all three objects, the soldier, the box and the vase with flowers were all in focus. The f-stop made all three items look as if they were on the same layer.  The question is which of these is our subject?

By changing out our f-stop we can create the layers we need to bring the focus to our subject.

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Here I f/2.8 is used. You see a big change?  The soldier now stands out as our subject.

In using this f-stop I have created three layers. The foreground and subject is the soldier.  The wooden case still reveals its meaning without competing with a soldier.  This is the middle layer.  Lastly the background has been blurred,  This leaves color and shape that complement the picture without dominating or competing with our subject or the second layers meaning.

So now it is your turn to get out and shoot controlling that f-stop.  Use is how you see fit.  It is one of your tools to creation.

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