In every shoot, you are looking for that one defining image, or at least I am. The feature image - the one that should be hanging on the wall, in a very large frame. For me, it's this one of Chantal.
When it comes to light, there is no better than evening light, that last hour before the sun sets, known as “The Golden Hour”
To achieve a nice soft out of focus background, pop on a lens capable of a very wide aperture, and shoot. This is the result.
Shot with a Canon 85mm L lens, at an aperture of 1.6, it gave me a wonderful bokeh. If you haven’t heard that term before, it comes from a Japanese word basically meaning blurry. And in portrait photography, it’s an often sought after result, to help the subject to pop out from the background. A more 3d look.
There is another key factor that will help you get a blurrier background, your lens choice aside, and that is distance. The further your subject is away from the background, the more the blur. Play around with this – set up a shot say 20 feet away from the background, and shoot it. Then move your subject to forty feet away. Then … well, you get the point.
In this case, I chose a background that I knew would be darker than my model, trees, and I also wanted some light to be peeking through for those pleasing highlights that you see.
Experiment with this stuff. Test your results based on how close the camera is to your subject. A longer lens will compress the scene more, and this adds to the blur. So if you have a zoom, say a 70-200mm, position yourself so that you fill the frame with your subject at the 70mm end of the range. Take the shot. Then, move back far enough to fill the frame in the same way but this time at the 200mm setting. Take the shot, and compare the results. Your 200mm shot will have a blurrier background.
There are so many different combinations of distance, lens, aperture, etc that can change the look of an image. The key is experimentation. Go have some fun!