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Soft focus – wide aperture #photography

Wide apertures are great for portraits and close-up shots of people. At events, wide apertures are preferable because they also allow us to shoot at faster shutter speeds. As the days get darker and we lose more and more light I shall be using aperture priority and shooting wide open much of the time. One of the main reasons people get blurred photos is poor light and then the camera sets the shutter speed too slow. I set my camera on aperture priority and the widest aperture and then check the shutter speed. For a scene where I want to freeze movement, I’m looking to get a shutter speed of 1/100 of a second. For this picture, I chose a wide aperture and had a soft focus filter on the lens.

wide aperture combined with soft focus

Soft Focus

A wide aperture will bring your subject into sharp focus with a blurred background but that isn’t always flattering, especially for older people. Using a soft focus filter softens the image but you really need to remove the filter for the narrower aperture shots.

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I visited the pet stall after I had finished taking photos and bought nuts for the squirrel that visits my garden. You can see the soft focus effect more clearly in this picture. The aperture is narrower bringing the stall into focus.

Union street in soft focus

I went to an even narrower aperture when the sun came out for this landscape shot and the soft filter gives it an interesting softness. You can’t read the signs but it is still clear enough to see it’s a street scene.

Soft focus filter

A wide aperture will give you enough detail so that you can see a single human hair clearly. In this shot of Deputy Mayor Susan Downing, you can see the detail but the soft focus makes the picture more flattering and dignified. At these events, I also favour the candid shots over the posed shots that convey little emotion.

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2 Responses

  1. Hi Mike, Wow, this is very helpful. The focused and blurred effect is cool, but I didn’t know how to get it with a camera. The wide aperture seems to be the key.

    October 14, 2016 at 14:12

  2. Hi Carolyn,

    Yes, just set the aperture at the lowest number and zoom in for a bokeh in the background and the subject in sharp focus. Lenses that give a very wide aperture are very expensive, but I do have one and that is great for portraits. I use it for food photography too. 🙂

    October 15, 2016 at 09:15

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