• Mar

    The Role of Blur in Photography


    Blur can be one of two things in photography, an unwanted result in shooting or something that can be carefully crafted into your images to create a certain effect. We’ll look at both of those qualities here.

    Eliminate Camera Movement

    One of the greatest obstacles to successful photography is unwanted camera movement, resulting in blurred photographs. One simple method of dealing with this problem is to hold the camera steady when working in bright light or flash. When it comes time to depress the shutter, hold your breath, releasing it after you’ve depressed the shutter. This reduces camera movement.

    Other causes of blurred images, is a low shutter speed or having the lens zoomed in on a subject, which makes camera shake all that more noticeable. Additionally, if you’re not using flash, shooting in low light is likely to induce blur. A rule of thumb is not to hand hold the camera at a shutter speed less than the lens focal length. The easiest, most reliable fix for many of these problems is to use a tripod.

    Other options are to brace your elbows tight against your body and against a wall or tree if available. Another option is a monopod. Finally, most digital cameras have a self-timer and some have a remote control. Either one of these is an excellent aid to reducing blur in dim light.

    Introducing Blur by Panning

    There will be times that you will want to introduce blur in an image, by panning while photographing a subject in motion. This causes the subject to be relatively sharp, but with a blurred background. With digital cameras, blur is caused by how far a subject you have focused on moves across the image sensor while the shutter is open. This is dependent on the speed of the subject, how far the subject is from the camera whether the lens has been zoomed in or not.

    The bottom line is that you will need to use a fast shutter speed. But choosing the right speed is not an exact science, because there is no way of knowing how the motion will be portrayed. As a result, taking multiple shots is highly recommended.

    To obtain good results, begin panning before the subject enters your viewfinder and make your movements smooth and fluid. Then, as you follow the subject, gently press the shutter release and continue to move, following through like a golfer. This requires a fair bit of practice, but you can erase the images that don’t work. Be aware that your body motion also introduces fluctuations to the final result.

    Creating Mood with Blur

    You can use blur to create interesting effects, such as photographing a moving object from a static position, like a waterfall. Due to the slow shutter speed, the water blurs, creating a soft effect. To create this effect, it is necessary to turn off the automatic exposure system. As with panning, the results will be variable, so practice is essential to gain the results you seek.

    Depth of Field Blur

    Depth of Field allows you to selectively blur portions of the image, helping to soften potentially distracting parts of the image and to lead the viewer’s eye. Depth of field allows blurring of the foreground, background or both with only a narrow portion of clarity in the image.


    This image of a flower illustrates this technique, where both the foreground and background are blurred, while the flower itself is sharp. This type of image leads the eye exactly to where you want it

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