Wednesday, September 11, 2013

How to Blur Your Photo Background with a Point and Shoot Camera


As bloggers, we take a lot of pictures.

Seriously, a lot. Hundreds is not abnormal for any given week. Especially me (Jessica) who has been known to take 47 shots of a pancake on a plate because I just. Have. To. Get. It. Right.

And as bloggers that care about the quality of our images, we really do our best to take good pictures that enhance the experience of visiting us here at Domestic Bliss Squared. A good picture means that more people Pin or Re-Pin your post, which means more blog traffic. But you know what else? Neither of us own fancy DSLR cameras. There are many reasons for this, mostly having to do with the proximity of two 18-month-old tech curious toddler boys who are mostly covered in food or drool 90% of the time.

As of right now, I (Jessica) primarily use a Pansonic DMC-zs25 which I got at Costco on super sale, WAY less then the Amazon price! That, or I use my my cell phone camera on my LG Nexus 4 smartphone. Hilary is using only the camera on her ZTE Engage smartphone.

So clearly, we do not have the latest and greatest camera tech at our fingertips, and yet we still manage to take (I think) pretty good pictures for our blog. I'm particularly proud of the shots of my gluten-free banana chocolate chip muffins.

What we have done is come up with some tips and tricks for taking good pictures with a point-and-shoot camera, and today I'm sharing my #1 tip for taking pictures with a blurred background. It can be done, and you don't need a DSLR to do it! Keep reading to find out how:


To prove my point, here is a picture of my (Jessica's) beautiful daughter:

how to Blur your photo background with a point and shoot camera

This is a good picture! She's posed interestingly, the background is simple, and her eyes are the focus of the picture despite everything else going on with angles of her arms and legs.

The problem with this picture is that there isn't a lot of depth of field. The grass is the background is just as sharp and in focus as her face, which is kind of distracting and makes the picture look very flat and two dimensional. And if you like the look of DSLR photographs with the pretty blurred background then this isn't it. 

Compare that to this photo:

how to Blur your photo background with a point and shoot camera

First of all, it's cropped closer which feels more like a portrait. But aside from that, the background is blurred out! I managed to do both of these shots above with my cheapish point-and-shoot camera, on Intelligent Auto (iA) mode. The only difference in camera settings between the two pictures is the zoom. Want to know how I did it? Of course you do!

To achieve this look there are two stupidly easy steps:

1. Use your camera's zoom to take your camera's lens out as far out as you can, like this:


how to Blur your photo background with a point and shoot camera

2. Back away from your subject until your camera can focus on your subject with the zoom all the way out. (You will be pretty far away, don't let that trip you up!)


how to Blur your photo background with a point and shoot camera

Done.

Don't believe me? Check this photo series out, featuring Hilary's gorgeous little girl:

how to Blur your photo background with a point and shoot camera

The above series shows you the progression from the traditional point-and-shoot photo on the far left taken right next to the subject with no zoom, to halfway zoomed out in the center, to the far right, which is a picture taken zoomed as far out as possible and standing far away. A big difference, right? Isn't that crazy? Here is the same progression again, with my little girl:

how to Blur your photo background with a point and shoot camera

(Side note: Does she not have the most beautiful eyes? We were really confused when she was born because my eyes are green and my husband's are brown. Hooray for recessive genes! However, I also predict those eyes giving us a lot of trouble with boys in another ten years *shudder.*)

You can of course still take wonderful pictures of kids without a blurred background, but it is sometimes nice to have the option.  Here's a comparison of two pictures of our girls. The top picture is an example of a great picture without needing a blurred background. The bottom picture was taken using the zooming in/standing far away technique:

how to Blur your photo background with a point and shoot camera

Ok, you're convinced, right? Yay!

"But Jessica," you say, "I don't want to take pictures of things outside (or I don't have enough space to stand that far away). I want to take pictures of food/crafts/details very close up. How do you get a blurred background then?"

There is another trick you can use when taking detailed photos of a subject like food, that you can get very close to and not lose the shot. You can set your camera to the "macro" setting, which looks like a little flower on most point-and-shoots. My camera's iA setting will do this automatically when I get too close to my subject, but for some cameras you will need to set this manually.

Now you should be able to take very close up pictures of things and your camera will naturally have a shallower depth of field! Even some cell phone cameras will do this to some extent. If you look above at the close up picture of my camera with the lens zoomed all the way, you will see that even Hilary's cell phone camera blurred the background a bit. But here's another example. Check it out:

how to Blur your photo background with a point and shoot camera

The pictures above show the difference between a traditional shot and macro setting:
1. Taken about three feet from the grapes, on the iA setting, with no macro (flower).
2. Taken on macro (flower) setting about three inches from the grapes, zoomed in slightly.
3. Taken about on macro (flower) setting about one inch from the grapes, no zoom.

You can of course still invest in a DSLR, but it's not necessary. I think it all depends on what you want from your photos. But I know that for those of us with cheap cameras trying to make them work for a photo-heavy blog, having an arsenal of easy techniques under your belt is totally worth it! And this is a tip worth trying out for sure. And if you're looking for more tips on blogging or photography, you can always follow us on Pinterest to see some of the other awesome tricks we find from other bloggers!

~Jessica

26 comments:

  1. Thanks for the help! I really thought you were on million dollar equipment- your photos are THAT good!

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  2. Thank you so much for this post! I've been very frustrated trying to find this information online and by my own trial and error. Also...love the tractor beam :)

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  3. Really great tip, good to know!

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  4. What a brilliant tip! I only have a point and click camera and I'm definitely going to give this a try. I'd be thrilled if you'd come on over to Pink Recipe Box and link up at Creative Wednesdays: http://pinkrecipebox.com/creative-wednesdays-with-pink-recipe-box-9/

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  5. Awesome post with great tips!
    The alien tractor beam literally made me LOL, thanks for the giggle!

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  6. FYi, tried this today and got some AMAZING photos! Thanks again!

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    1. I'm so happy to hear that, Beth!! I really want to show that you CAN get professional looking photographs from a point and shoot, my photographer friend was saying that in some cases he actually prefers them. If you want to share your pictures I'd love to see them!

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  7. Stopping by from Shine On Friday. Thanks so much for the great photo tips. I have a point and shoot, and always appreciate tips on how to get my photos to look better. Thanks so much for the great info!

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  8. Thanks for the tips! I have a little Cannon point and shoot that's good quality, but still a point and shoot :) I recently read that the trick to get those focused to blurry shots was a wide open aperture. Well, a point and shoot doesn't have that option, except with using the zoom. I feel a little silly standing 20 feet away from something to photograph it, but I love the effect! Great tutorial! Pinning to my photography board. :)

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  9. I can't wait to try this! I take all my pictures on macro, but have never tried playing with the zoom. Thanks!

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  10. These are really great tips! I have two cameras - one is a point & shoot (but it's a Sony and has an incredible lens) and the other is a medium-priced DSLR (with an ok lens). I alternate between the two. I prefer the point & shoot because it actually takes clearer pictures, but sometimes the DSLR works better depending upon the situation. But then I have to edit the pictures much more. Maybe with your tips I can get the point & shoot to work in more situations!

    Kim @ {enjoy the view}

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  11. Awesome tips and so going to try using when I use my Canon Point and Shoot instead of my DSLR. Thanks again for sharing with us today at the PinCentive Blog Hop!!

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  12. I've never really been aware of the desire for a blurry background. After viewing your pictures, I now understand. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. I will be looking at subjects (and what's around them) a little further back.

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  13. These are great tips. I love blur backgrounds and most of the time I have to blur it more on Photoshop. Thanks so much for sharing this with me at Bewitch Me & Titi! Hope to have you back with more amazing shares! Hope you are having a marvellous week!!!

    XOXO
    Cami @ TitiCrafty.com

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  14. This is so ridiculously brilliant! You are so smart! I would never have thought to even try zooming out all the way! Thank you for sharing this!!

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  15. I love these tips! I also use a point and shoot camera, mostly because I haven't gotten around to getting a DSLR yet. I knew that using the macro setting would blur the background and now I'm excited to try my iA setting. Thanks for the tips.

    Angela

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  16. Excellent tips! I'm kind of known as the resident horrible photographer here at home, but I'm slowly learning that composition, lighting, and making use of whatever settings my old cheapo poloroid has, is more important than a fancy camera.

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  17. Such good pointers that bloggers can learn from. Thanks for sharing.
    Pam @ BeColorful

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  18. Thank you so much for joining All Things Pretty I hope to see you back on Thursday at 8am at http://myfashionforwardblog.com

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  19. Thank Jess. That is really helpful.

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  20. It is technological invent for me as well. It is very helpful to all. I  will come to you to know more vital info about this. Thanks a lot for letting this info....Keep more content about this if be possible..


    Devid khan

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  21. This is awesome help. I'm not ready to purchase a DSLR quite yet and this info will help me a lot. Thanks for sharing your tips.

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  22. Nowadays it's more simple to make such photos using blur app https://macphun.com/focus try to, you don't need to be the professional photographer to create and edit your photos, little practice and you'll get the great result I'm sure. Good luck.

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