Blurry Photos- How To Turn That Blur Into Art

By now many photographers have tried their hand at adding some “bokeh” to a few of their images, and may have even created a sense of movement through the use of a slow shutter or panning technique. These are extremely powerful ways to create good digital photography images and they all have one thing in common – they have intentionally created blurry photos.

Blurry photos are usually annoying and frustrating, but not when you mean to do it. It can give water a remarkably beautiful look, it can make a horse race look as if the horse and jockey are breaking the sound barrier, and it can create a message or tone that makes something ordinary really extraordinary instead.

Let’s first look at the use of blurry photos being deliberatley created and how it can give any image a bit of strength. One of the most common ways to get blurry photos (on purpose) is to examine your background.  We can see this effect of getting intentionally blurry photos is within many points of light is as your complete background.

Many nature and landscape photographs have it added to them instead of a sharply focused backdrop.

In the past many photographers would just use a wide aperture to shorten the depth of field, but this did not develop the points of light in the way that bokeh manages too, and this not only makes the subjects really “pop” from the image, but it also adds a bit of mystery to the setting too.

The next way that photographers will add intentionally blurry photos to the mix is through the use of a slow shutter, and this can make water look like a sheet of opaque glass or it can give a runner the look of intense speed too. The best way to achieve this is to mount the camera to the tripod and take a few test shots of the setting. If the subject is going to be in motion, such as those at a sporting event, the photographer may have to be a bit of a distance from them in order to get the best results. With water, on the other hand, the closer the lens is to the water the better the shot. The shutter speed for such an instance is not likely to be less than 1/60 of a second.  That is still ample time to add the kind of blurry photos that create such unique results.

Finally, panning (like the photo above that I took on a moving train) is a classic way to keep the subject in sharp focus while allowing the background to blur as if it were speeding past. This is done by getting a soft focus on the target and then following it as the shutter is finally released.

I created this blurry photo as a deliberate technique when I saw that the frieght train and the moving train I was on, were moving at exactly the same time. It allowed me to create a blurry photo and still maintain sharpness for my main focal point.

All of these techniques are great for experimentation, and it really behooves the modern photographer to see what they can achieve with them.

About the Author

Amy is an multi-award winning photographer from Australia. She teaches enthusiast photographers how to take beautiful, professional photos in easy, plain English. She has a monthly photography emagazine and ebooks to help you create stunning images every time.

Comments (5)

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  1. Max says:

    I love your frieght train shot.

  2. xavier says:

    Thanks Amy. Now I can turn my dud photos (and there are many of them) into nice photos!

  3. Wasabi says:

    Did you plan that feight train shot or was it an accident ie. luck?

    • A bit of both. I was on the train and saw this frieght train travelling paralell to the train I was on. Both vehicles were moving at exactly the same speed for only about 5 seconds, that was when I knew I had a good opportunity to shoot. I did, and as soon as I did, the frieght train moved away into the distance. I was lucky in that respect, but did also plan to shoot it. It was a combination between planning and luck I guess.

  4. Jacob says:

    I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Keep up the good work Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

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