Blurry Photos?! You Bet, IF Done With Intent

I am always on the look for new photographic techniques to try as it keeps me fresh and expands my skill set. My new favorite technique is creating pleasing blurs. The catch word here is “pleasing”. I am not simply snapping out of focus images for the sake of an “artsy” look, but am creating blurs with intent, so the end result can be very beautiful abstracts.

As I have come to find out, the technique is actually a lot more difficult that it seems and you need to shoot a lot of shots in order to get a really great image. It is a good deal of trial and error but in the digital age it is a viable technique as you can get instant feedback in the field and continue to make adjustments on the fly.

Depending on the subject matter, the blurs can either be vertical or horizontal. I start off with my image in focus and as I am pressing the shutter I am also moving the camera. The movements do not need to be big but you do need to have your camera set to a slow shutter speed so the movement causes blur. I set my ISO as low as it can go and close down my aperture to as small as it needs to be in order to get a slow shutter speed. At ISO 100, my F Stop is going to probably be at least 18, depending upon the light conditions. Remember the goal is to be able to get a blur. The speed with which you move the camera will determine the amount of blur you get. How much blur you want is going to vary based on your taste and the subject matter.

The great thing about creating blurs is you can do them when conditions aren’t exactly right for other kinds of shots. If it is high noon, for example, on a very sunny day, instead of trying to get detail shots which may be effected by harsh shadows and washed out color, shoot a blur. It makes conditions more forgiving. Here are some examples: TulipBlur copySunriseBlurPurpleFlowersBlur copyOceanBlur copy


Have you ever created pleasing blurs? If not, give it a go. Happy shooting.


2 thoughts on “Blurry Photos?! You Bet, IF Done With Intent

  1. Hi Cindy – good to see these! I hold a strong belief that the blurred / out of focus parts of a photo can be (and often are) as important or more so than the in focus parts. I use straight soft focus, as well as the camera movement effects you have here – and you’re right, pleasing effects can take a lot of repetitious shooting!

    I particularly like the two seaside images here – very beautiful, diffuse colours. Keep on keeping on! Adrian


    1. Thanks so much, Adrian. I think using blur in images, whether the entire image, or just part of the image, is definitely an important artistic technique. You, the maker, can do a lot to manipulate the way a viewer’s eyes see your images and blur certainly can have an important role in that. Thanks for the thoughtful comments!


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