I’m so glad that so many of you liked yesterday’s post! How fun! All your comments and emails got me thinking about another photography tip!

Let me ask you this…Are any of you experiencing blur as you try to grab the perfect Christmas photo of the kids? If the answer is a frustrating “YES”, read on!

In DVD 2, Beyond the Green Box, Brian and I do a lot of teaching on what we refer to as The Big Three: Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO.

If your taking photos of the kids and one child is in focus but the other three are not, start thinking of an Imaginary Glass Wall–the name of this photo tip. And then after thinking the words “imaginary glass wall” think Aperture.

Brian and I love low F-stops (2.8. 2.0, 1.8 and even 1.4 at times). What does this mean? The lower we go in our F-stop, or Aperture, the more blur we have in our background. A lot of old school photography will say you should have an F-stop of 8.0 to 16. This means that every thing in the picture is in focus. But we think the creativity and story telling comes from what we choose to focus on and not focus on.

See the image below. Mom and baby’s hands are in focus, but the baby nursing is way out of focus because it was a very low F-stop, or in other words, low Aperture. The F-Stop was a 2.8 at least. The story of this image is about the intimate, touching points and connections between a nursing baby and their mother.

But when you are trying to take a great family picture, and you want nice blur in your background with everyone in focus, you have to think “Imaginary Glass Wall”.

This is what I mean. I often tell my portrait clients to pretend like there is an Imaginary Glass Wall in front of them. Their mission is to have the tips of their noses touching the same imaginary glass wall as their brother or sister next to them. By saying this, I’m trying to get them all on the same plane. With all their noses touching the same glass wall, they are perfectly lined up, all on the same plane, and I can have a low F-stop, get my blur in the background and everyone stays in focus. I have to add that I’m always amazed at how the youngest of kids will understand this request and do it in a heartbeat.

But the moment one of the people in the shot moves closer to me or moves farther back, the group is no longer ALL in focus.

In this above shot, I was shooting at a 2.8 F-stop/Aperture, focused on the oldest son, and this blurred the dad and younger brother in the background. But if all three had put their noses up to the Imaginary Glass Wall, they’d all be in focus.

Is this making any sense? :) My fingers are crossed.

So if you want a shot of your chicklens with all of them in focus, you’ve got to make sure your camera has the aperture/F-stop to at least a 4.0, maybe even 5.6. (If these numbers don’t make any sense to you, try DVD 2, and it will all be clear! Promise!)

When we do the group bridal party shots or family shots at weddings, I bump my aperture up to a 5.0 or 5.6 to make sure everyone is in focus, just in case someone moves on me and doesn’t have their nose up against that Imaginary Glass Wall.

Try it out and let me know if this helps with your blurred kids!

I’m also working on a new exercise for next week that is all about White Balance (don’t freak out–White Balance is WAY easier than “they” make it sound). We’re going to try an exercise on using our White Balance settings to make the Christmas tree photos look great in color! It’ll be fun!

A big thanks to the Welk Family and Jessica for letting me share their portrait photos as examples! You guys are the BEST!

Oh, oh, oh!!! I almost forgot! As I’ve been typing this blog post, Brian has been working on something for the new website! I told him how much I love “Better Together” features on shopping carts, where if you buy these two or three products together, you can get an even better deal! Of course, he found a software and is finishing up so that it’s now a feature on our website! :) Check it out at Refuse To Say Cheese. The man is amazing!

I promise, tomorrow and no later, we will post the winner of the November “Thankful” Photo Contest and the Random Winner who Voted for the Winner. :)

9 Comments: “Photography Tips to Getting Rid of Blur in Holiday Photos!”

  1. Wendy says:

    Me Ra,
    Thank you so much for all your pointers with these holiday photos. I was rolling on the floor laughing when I read your bribing post yesterday—everything so incredibly true!! I loved your description today about the glass wall. I can’t wait for my DVD 2–it is in the mail. Thanks again for staying so true to mommies and everyone out here who want to take better pictures.

  2. Anne Marie says:

    I love to shoot with low aperture as well but often have trouble with not having the correct object or person(s) in focus. I kept wondering where you were going to go with the “glass wall” – BUT thanks you for explaining it so clearly – it really makes sense that way. This will really help with photos of more than one person!

  3. Amanda says:

    Great tip as always! Makes perfect sense!

  4. Maggie says:

    Thanks for all this, Me Ra! The glass wall is a great way to explain this to kids & families. Just wanted to know what you typically do when you have a group of 5 or more and they’re not all on the same plane (on purpose) and you want a more funky or staggered pose WITH the blur? Is that asking too much from the camera? :) I love the DVD by the way.

  5. Jill says:

    Coolness! I will definitely remember the glass wall trick :)

    Do you have any suggestions for getting a photo of a 15-year-old teenage boy with his 10-year-old sister…. God forbid that they actually touch each other, let alone cooperate at the same time!

  6. Selective focus is one of my favorite tricks! Actually I think the reason I use it so much is that I like low light and NO tripod. (hate tripods!) So…you work with what you got! Actually I have always been drawn to images that have selective focus. This is a great tip that all photographers should try! Beautiful examples!

  7. [...] Photography Tips to Getting Rid of Blur in Holiday Photos!By Me Ra2.0, 1.8 and even 1.4 at times). What does this mean? The lower we go in our F-stop, or Aperture, the more blur we have in our background. A lot of old school photography will say you should have an F-stop of 8.0 to 16. …Me Ra Koh Photography Blog – http://www.merakohblog.com [...]

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