How to get bokeh with a Point & Shoot

Bokeh is the out of focus area in an image. You’ve probably noticed that a bunch of my photos have a blurry background. That’s the bokeh (or better yet, bokeh is the aesthetic quality of the blur… ) 

Getting that blur without using a DSLR is a challenge. Long story short, you have to use a particular lens (with a wide aperture) to achieve those results. Or you need to be far away with a telephoto or macro lens.

Anyway, I was helping my sis buy a camera when I was in TX. She ended up buying this one. It’s a great camera w/ a lot of capabilities. One of the things she wanted me to teach her was how to get “blurry backgrounds” in her shots. It was a lot harder than I thought it would be. There are four things you must do…

1) Set your aperture to the smallest number (widest aperture = smallest number) that your camera can go to. Hers can go to f/2.8 so I switched it to manual mode (you could also use aperture mode) and brought it down to f/2.8

2) Pull your subject away from the background. Get them as far away as you can.

3) Zoom all the way in on your subject. Now, you might have to walk back A LOT to get their whole face/body in the shot. (It’s much easier with a tiny subject like the dragonfly below).

4) Hold your breathe and/or stable yourself on something (the ground/door/wall/chair, etc.), because when zoomed in you will experience a ton of camera shake. Her camera has a 26x optical zoom so it moved a lot when zoomed in. I could barely control the thing.

Here are three shots all taken at lowest aperture possible, zoomed all the way in, using my sisters point & shoot. The last shot would have been even blurrier if I had moved Portia further away from the background.

Hope this helps someone!

(The color looks a little magenta in this one, but that can easily be fixed in Photoshop/Lightroom/Gimp, etc.)
Two things to add.
1) Try this outside. It will be tough inside to get enough light w/out using the flash, which often makes pics look blah.
2) Your aperture will automatically change when you zoom in, because the built in lens is a “variable aperture lens”. Don’t worry about that. Basically it means that at the widest part of your lens, you can go to f/2.8, but when you start zooming in it starts closing down, maybe to f/5.6 or so at the long end. I have found that it didn’t really matter, because the compression of the zoom still gave the desired result (a blurry background).

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