Photography project: creative blurs

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I am currently reading David DuChemin’s ebook:  The Visual Imagination.  One of the exercises he suggests is to hunker down and create blurred images of a subject using many variations.  If you have been following us for awhile then you know I am “focus challenged”.  This assignment was perfect for me.

While on location for my day job, I started each morning with my camera and practiced blurs.  Its not as easy as it sounds.  Besides the technical aspects (especially trying to slow the shutter in bright light), there are considerations in terms of how fast and in what direction you move the camera.  I tried vertical and horizontal sweeping motions, as well as “corkscrews” and “shimmies”.  What I found is that you need to match the motion of the camera movement to the shape and nature of the subject.  Vertical river reeds begged for vertical camera movements (and the occasional corkscrew).  I have to admit, it can be addictive – Peter and I were at the Denver Botanical Garden recently, and I couldn’t stop blurring everything….

Here are some tips:

  • Slow down your shutter speed to below 1/30 sec if possible.  This involves taking your ISO down as low as it will go, and narrowing your aperture (for me it was f22).  A filter, or two, on the lens also helps.
  • Start moving the camera before the shutter opens – this will help you get fluid motion, so that part of your image is not in focus, unless that is what you are going for.
  • Less is more….in terms of camera movement.  I found I liked to have a little of my subject still represented in the image, rather than creating a complete canvas of only color.
  • Look for subjects with strong shapes, colors, and or textures.
  • Bring extra memory cards.  You will take many images to get the one you love.

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