Even the best photographers find that some of their shots are out of focus and this is usually by accident. However, there are some occasions when you may want to shoot an image out of focus on purpose. And while you may think that taking an unfocused photograph should be easy to do, there are a few techniques that you can follow to make sure you get the effect you intended, such as limiting the depth of field.
Taking an unfocused image can result in nice soft backgrounds that leave the subject in focus, making for a more dramatic effect. When you want to control the depth of field the first thing most people do is alter the camera’s f-stop. When the aperture is wide open it provides a shallow focus range and a small aperture provides a lot of depth where most of the image will be in focus.
However, the f-stop doesn’t really have that much of an effect since changing it won’t typically change a crystal-clear background into soft and dreamy one.
The closeness to your subject will have an effect though. If you’re looking for an unfocused background you should get quite close to the main subject.
If your subject is about two feet from you and the background of the photo is 50 feet away the focus will be very shallow.
For instance, if you’re standing up and taking a photo of a flower that’s below you on the ground then both the flower and the background are about the same distance from you.
However, if you get down low to the ground, the background will now be further away and easier to get out of focus. The bigger the camera is the easier this will be able to do. An SLR (single lens reflex) is preferred over a small point-and-shoot camera.
The way lenses are built, you’ll have less depth of field with a larger sensor. Point-and-shoot cameras come with very short focal-length lenses. This means that just about everything you shoot will be in focus. With a longer lens you’ll get less depth of field. Also, in theory, wide-angle lenses provide greater depth of field while telephoto lenses have less.
This may be a generalization and some photographers will disagree, but the theory can be used for taking out of focus photos. If you have a tilt-and-shift lens, you can get greater depth of field by tilting the lens. However, to be creative you can tilt the lens in the opposite direction to decrease your depth of field by quite a bit.
Some people just prefer to blur their images in a software-editing program as it may seem a lot easier to do than try to learn a different technique. That’s fine, but if you’d like to be able to have the original shots come out the way you’d like them to, you just need to experiment enough until you get the hang of it.
Photography is meant to be fun and creative. Who knows, you may even be able to stumble upon something that will one day become a popular photography technique.