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How to get maximum background bokeh for large subjects?

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Santanu Bhattacharjee
How to get maximum background bokeh for large subjects?
on Mar 1, 2018 at 5:55:44 pm

I have a container about 60" x 60" x 60" kept in a lage factory. I wanted to blur out the messy factory for my video shoot on my 5D. I tried Canon 50 f/1.8, Samyung cine 35 f1.5, Sigma 90mm 2.8 Macro at lowest aperture, but could not get a good blur to diffuse mty background. Any suggestions?

Here is the scenario


Santanu B
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Warren Eig
Re: How to get maximum background bokeh for large subjects?
on Mar 1, 2018 at 7:16:43 pm

Are you shooting video? Make sure your shutter is 1/50. At 50mm 1.8 the background should be blurry. I'd also turn off some of the lights in the background so the light falls off behind the subject if possible.

Warren Eig
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Santanu Bhattacharjee
Re: How to get maximum background bokeh for large subjects?
on Mar 2, 2018 at 7:28:47 am

Thanks for your suggestion. In fact 50 was the best of all.

[Warren Eig] " I'd also turn off some of the lights in the background so the light falls off behind the subject if possible."
During the day, there were natural north lights from the factory ceiling. We could not cut lights during the day. So we did the reverse. We reduced lights on our subject and opened up the ISO, thus slightly over exposing the background. This created a normal lit subject on a bright background that is normally preferred in a corporate video.

We also tried dark background at night with lit subject. While the subject looked prominent, the darker background looked gloomy.

Santanu B
The Swiss Army Knife for All Your Creative Needs


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Blaise Douros
Re: How to get maximum background bokeh for large subjects?
on Mar 1, 2018 at 10:39:36 pm

1. Use a longer lens, zoomed in, with the camera positioned farther away. That'll create a more blurred background, and also a narrower field of view, limiting the amount of background clutter.
2. Use a wider lens, and move closer. That will fill the frame with your subject, and make the background appear physically smaller in frame.

I also like Warren's suggestion of killing background lights.


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Santanu Bhattacharjee
Re: How to get maximum background bokeh for large subjects?
on Mar 2, 2018 at 7:14:01 am

Thanks guys for your valuable suggestions.

[Blaise Douros] " longer lens, zoomed in"
I tried a 90 mm F 2.8 macro from a distance but then, since both the subject and the bg are almost at infinity, it did not create sufficient bokeh. Nevertheless, it was better than wider lens.

Should I go further long say 200 - 300 mm?

[Blaise Douros] "wider lens, and move closer."
I tried 35 mm T 1.5 getting closer. Since the subject was huge I wasn't able to go too close, thus could not get the bg enough blur. Moreover, getting close on a wider lens created severe spherical aberration distortions.

50 1.8 was the best among all.

Santanu B
The Swiss Army Knife for All Your Creative Needs


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Blaise Douros
Re: How to get maximum background bokeh for large subjects?
on Mar 2, 2018 at 6:16:38 pm

Yes, you'd need to go longer than 90mm if you were going to go that route. 200mm would probably be about the maximum usable focal length.

Overexposing the background is sub-optimal--human eyes are programmed to look at bright areas first, so you can end up distracting from your subject.

One other old trick that used to be more prevalent in the days before large-sensor cameras were widely available was to get a fog machine in the room to fake falloff--the further back, the more foggy, so it was a way to make the background look out of focus even though it really wasn't.


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Chris Wright
Re: How to get maximum background bokeh for large subjects?
on Mar 4, 2018 at 6:36:40 pm

a longer lens only magnifies blur through visual compression, doesn't make it 'stronger'. the lil bokeh gets enlarged, not softer. a common misconception.


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Blaise Douros
Re: How to get maximum background bokeh for large subjects?
on Mar 6, 2018 at 5:29:11 pm

Perhaps you could point out to me where I claimed that zooming in would make the blur "stronger." I didn't go into exactly what physics are involved, just that it would produce the desired result: a background that appears more blurred. I'm perfectly aware of why and how this works, but it is irrelevant to the discussion. "Why" it works is less important to OP than "whether" it works.


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Chris Wright
Re: How to get maximum background bokeh for large subjects?
on Mar 6, 2018 at 7:49:35 pm

i see your point. as an addendum; "a particular desired look can be further magnified or 'exaggerated' by a longer lens, not directly de-focused by it." I just didn't want the OP to get confused by technical vs artistic photography. if it looks good, then its right.


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