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I was practicing with my daughter and most of the pics came out good but some really good ones, or what could have been really good, her face was blurred but the background was clear.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Please add some sample photos (blank out your daughter's face if you need to) - it's very difficult for us to say what's gone wrong without some examples. \$\endgroup\$
    – Philip Kendall
    Commented Oct 8, 2018 at 15:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ What camera are you using? Does it have different focus modes, and if so, which mode or modes did you use? \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Commented Oct 8, 2018 at 15:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is essentially the same question: Simply bad focus or too big aperture? \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented Oct 11, 2018 at 11:05

4 Answers 4

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Without seeing the pics the most likely reasons in my experience:

  1. You were too close to your daughter for the lens you were using.
  2. Your autofocus zone wasn't on your daughter's face.
  3. Your daughter was moving faster than your autofocus could compensate.
  4. You were using the wrong AF settings for your shooting conditions. (i.e. using one shot instead of AI if she was running around a lot)
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Cameras use lenses to focus the light for the creation of your image. What's in focus is typically represented by a distance scale.

The simplest cameras cannot change focus, like this Fuji QuickSnap. It's focus is fixed and it brings everything from 1 meter to infinity into focus.

If you were using this camera, and your daughter were closer to you than 1 meter...then she would be blurry while the background would be crisp.

Other cameras allow you to focus the lens to a small degree or high degree. For example, this Lomo Instant has two focus options: 0.4m - 0.9m or 1m - Infinity. One would need to select the correct one based on the distance the subject is from the camera. Again, if you chose 1m - infinity and your daughter were closer than 1m, she'd be out of focus while the background would look good.

Finally, the modern camera and lens, like this Canon 50mm f/1.8 has a minimum focusing distance of 35cm and a maximum of infinity. The catch here is that the range of acceptable focus, what's called Depth of Field, is dependent on the aperture you select. That being said, if you were using this camera and lens and had a crisp background and blurry foreground - that indicates that you missed the focus point being on your daughter.

If you can edit your question to include more info, like the type of camera used, then we could further deduce how to help you take better shots. Cheers,

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her face was blurred but the background was clear

Short answer: You focussed on the wrong thing, or you focussed on the right thing but then moved the camera without refocussing.

Longer answer: The front-to-back range in which the image is acceptably in focus is called the depth of field, and exactly how deep it is depends on several parameters, notably the aperture. Wider apertures (lower f-numbers, like f/2) give you less depth of field than smaller apertures (higher f-numbers, like f/8 or f/16). If you set your camera to one of the automatic aperture modes (like P or Tv or any of the simpler modes), the camera may select a large aperture in order to make a nice exposure even if you're not thinking about that, and you end up with shallow depth of field. If you want to control the depth of field, sent the camera to manual (M) or aperture priority (Av) mode. And no matter which mode you're in, you do need to be careful to focus on the subject before you shoot.

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The other possibility is that the shutter speed was too slow so the subject that was moving was blurred but the background which was still was not blurred. This is more likely if you have a camera or lens with image stabilization or were using a tripod. What was the shutter speed?

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