How to get blurred backgrounds in photos – with the aid of some meerkats – “simples!” (Part 3 – Distance)

Ability level 2

According to my site analytics blog posts with pictures of cute babies and children on get far more views than those with (toy) meerkats, so I won’t be using my little Sylvanian family again! They enjoyed their little trip to the Riviera (side of our pond) but are glad to be reunited with their dad on the bookcase in the family room.

In the previous 2 instalments of this blog, we’ve been looking at how to get blurred backgrounds in photos and learned that it depends on the aperture setting used and on the focal length. But there’s one final factor that will help or hinder you when you’re trying to get this much desired effect in portraits – Distance. By this I mean the distance you are from your subject and the distance from your subject to the background.

3. Distance

Let’s look at your distance from your subject first. The further away you get, the less shallow the depth of field i.e. more of the picture is in focus from front to back.


In the images above all camera settings, lens and focal length are exactly the same. The only difference is that I moved back about 1 metre  in the second photo (I then cropped the picture a bit so you could see the effect better).

Now for the second aspect – how far is your subject from the background? If they are too close to the background, then you simply can’t blur it. Move them forward. It’s hard to say how far, as it depends on what you are shooting, but just experiment until it works.

So, in summary: if you are struggling to get a blurred background in your photograph, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Is your subject too close to the background? If so, move them forward.
  2. Are you using a low aperture number?
  3. Could you zoom in closer? If so do it.
  4. Are you too far away? If so, get closer.

That should do it. You might not have to do all these things – just one of them might solve it. And trust me, once you’ve done it a few times, it becomes second nature and you won’t even think about it. The secret is practise, practise, practise.

Did you like this blog post or find it useful? If so, please leave a comment, sign up for email reminders at the top of the page or share it with your friends (or even better, all three!!). Thank you – Jane :-)

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