Bokeh in the background with a 50 mm lens. What am I doing wrong?

Started Apr 22, 2013 | Questions thread
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RasiWick New Member • Posts: 6
Bokeh in the background with a 50 mm lens. What am I doing wrong?

I have been doing basic amateur photography, but rather haphazardly. I recently invested in a new Canon EOS 6D (full frame) camera with its kit lens, and a 50 mm f/1.8 prime lens to start off (more to come). Back in the day, I used to gush over photos from wedding/portrait photographers and dream about getting shots where the subject is tack sharp is bokeh in the background with a 50-80 mm lens. But I am having problems getting it with my 50 mm f/1.8 prime. Here is what happens:

To get Bokeh, as I understand it, I need to have a wide open aperture so that the subject remains in focus, but the background is out of focus. Correct? If I photograph my daughter under the tree (as in the photo below) and I want my daughter to be sharp and everything in focus, I set my camera to an aperture of f/1.8 or f/2 and have the focus point precisely on her eyes, and snap the picture.

To my disappointment, what I get is a very small area of razor sharp focus and the rest of the background out of focus.

This is the example of what happens when I shoot f/1.8 or f/2.2. Here you will see that my daughter's eye is sharp in focus, but the rest is slightly out of focus.

This is clearly distinctly different that some of the portrait shots you'll see in a professional photographer's collection. I see pics were the ENTIRE subject is in incredible focus and the background is nicely blurry. The shots also don't look like they were taken with telephoto lenses to create that effect. They look like standard 50 mm lenses.

What am I doing wrong? If i make the aperture smaller, a greater area gets in focus, but then the background looks more distinct (and less bokeh). Am I making comparisons to folks who are doing a lot of post processing, or is it possible to get images like this...

With minimal postprocessing and all through the use of a good lens and camera and skill? Do I need to use a different lens?

Canon EOS 6D
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