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