Photo Tip Friday: Blurring the Background, Part 2

by Mary Denman   @MaryDenman

Two of my sons goofing off by Mary Denman Photography
Welcome back for Part 2 of Blurring the Background. 

Last week in Part 1, we went over how the distance between your subject and the background can make a difference in how blurred the backdrop is. I'll have a link for that at the end of this post. 

But today, I'm going to talk about how to use the zoom feature of your camera to blur the background. 

Let's get started. 

Focal Length of Lens 24-105mm
In the series of photos of my son goofing off below, I show you the ISO, focal length in mm, Aperture Value (Av) and Time Value (Tv) for each shot. 

The biggest change in each picture was the focal length I used. This refers to how far your lens will zoom in and out, and how much the lens takes in. 

Why? To show you how much zoom can help create blur.

Here's a quick refresher. This is the lens I used. It has a focal length of 24-105mm. Notice it's written near the red line. 

Down at the bottom, notice it also says 24, 35, 50, 70 and 105. The line above the word IMAGE tells you where you are. In this photo of my lens, the camera is ready to take a shot at 24mm.

Now, let's go over the 4 photos below and see how much of an effect zooming in toward your subject can have on the background clarity. 

NOTE: I stood in one spot and used the camera lens and zoom to get in closer to my subject. 

PHOTO 1 by Mary Denman Photography 

PHOTO 1: I took this shot at the widest angle (24mm) my lens could offer.

It gives you the largest field of view. 

You can see the entire bench, all of my son and a large area around him. 

Notice the surrounding area and background is fairly clear. 

PHOTO 2  by Mary Denman Photography 

PHOTO 2: I zoomed in a little to 55mm. 

Look at how much that naturally crops out of the picture. 

You can start to see that the ferns behind him are a little more blurred than photo 1. 

PHOTO 3 by Mary Denman Photography 

PHOTO 3: I zoomed in more to 70mm.

Now all of the ferns behind him are blurred. Scott is nice and clear with a great smile.

This also enabled me to crop out more "clutter" from the picture. 

PHOTO 4 by Mary Denman Photography 

PHOTO 4: In this shot, I zoomed as much as I could to 105mm. 

Can you see how much zooming in on your subject can create blurring of the background? 

And again, it helped me remove distractions so the focus is where I want it. On my son. 

Dramatic, isn't it? 

So, what can we learn from using the zoom feature? 

TIP 1: The more you zoom, the more blur you can create behind your subject. 

TIP 2: The more you blur the background, the more your clear subject stands out. 

TIP 3: Zooming can also help cut out unwanted clutter, putting the attention on your subject.

On DSLR cameras, unless you specifically bought a fixed focal length lens, you should be able to zoom with your stock lens. Use the ring that moves the lens in  and out. 

On a Point and Shoots, there's generally a toggle button that allows you to zoom. You'll know when you hear the lens moving out of the camera and getting longer. 

On a Cell Phone Camera, you zoom in on your subject by swiping. Usually, this is spreading two fingers outward on the screen that zooms in on your subject. However, there are after market kits that you can buy that attach to your camera lens! They look just like the long zoom lenses on DSLRs!

For Bloggers: Knowing what you want to say and how to say it is important. Just as the differing focal lengths can make the same subject look very different, you need to know what you're trying to say. Is it an overview post? A general, 24mm idea? Is it tight and narrow like the 105mm zoom shot? Think about how best to present your subject or topic. 

Last week's post:  Blurring the Background, Part 1

Hope these tips help!

Keep on clicking!


Click to tweet and share: Tips for Blurring the Background, Part 2: Use Zoom 



  1. Yep! The zoom is my best friend for close-ups with blurred backgrounds. I'm practicing more with photography since I started following your posts, as they encourage me to get out there and keep working at it. Wishing you a blessed weekend! P.S. Please pray for Sheela, our brown cat. She's been to the vet twice because of a runny tummy and the meds haven't done the trick, so now we are waiting on test results. I know you're a cat lover. ;)

    1. That's wonderful Tina! I'm so glad the tips are helping. And you take some great shots!

      Yes, I'll pray for you and your Sheela! It's no fun when our pets are sick. Let me know how she does!

  2. I am seriously thinking of buying a camera just so I can use all your great tips. I would love to blur backgrounds, what a cool trick.

    Thanks for stopping by to link and share on The Oh My Heartsie Girl Friday Feature!!
    We appreciate you shared your blog with us!! I have Pinned and Tweeted your post!!
    Have a great weekend, Karren~Host

    1. Thanks so much for the pin and tweet Karren! I'm excited you're thinking about it. A good point and shoot would serve you well! You don't have to get a DSLR to get great shots.

      I'll post soon on a DSLR versus Point and Shoot. They both are a good option. You just have to figure out what will work best for your lifestyle.

  3. Great post Mary, love reading your photo tips :) I need to try and blur some photos now ..

    Thanks for sharing at the weekend blog hop

  4. My sakes, girl - Scott looks just like you! It's great how your kids let you use them as photo subjects.