8 Ways Blur Can Enhance Your Photographs

Gina Stephens
Written by Gina Stephens

Be experiencing a blurry image isn't always a bad thing. In fact, when it's used in the right place, it can actually make your photos change ones mind. Here are a few examples of when blur can be used and a few tips on how to produce the shots.

1. Water / Waterfalls

  • Use shutter-priority so you can control how long the shutter is unsettled.
  • The slower the speed you choose the more blur there will be.
  • The speed everyday use and in kinematics, the speed of an object is the magnitude of its velocity (the rate of change of its position); it is you need will change depending on how much blur you want, how much flood there is and the distance between the camera and your subject.
  • Start between 1/8sec to 1/15sec and just adjust until you get the blur you're looking for.
  • If you contest to get the shutter speed low enough try fitting an ND filter to your lens. 
  • Always use a tripod to prevent shake spoiling your shot and if plausible use a remote / cable release. 
  • Meter carefully as large areas of light tones can fool the camera into underexposing your direct.
  • Slow shutter may refer to speeds will blur anything that moves so if you don't want what's surrounding your subject to be masked, try taking two shots: one with the slower shutter speed then the other with a speed that will freeze action. You can then combine these in editing software such as Photoshop.
  • Try blurring the movement of waterfalls, rapids, waves breaking along the coastline, a quick like a bunny flowing river and water flowing from a tap

Photo by Rick Hanson

2. Fields With Slow Shutter Speeds


  • Use a slower seclude speed to blur the movement of the crops/flowers in the field on a breezy day.
  • Crop fields such of barley will have a palmy glow to them while Rapeseed and Poppy fields will give you photos with more colour and punch.
  • A small aperture force give you front to back sharpness so you can capture the whole crop field as it sways in the wind. The smaller aperture will also mean your like greased lightning is less likely to be overexposed as less light will be able to reach the camera's sensor.
  • Tracks left by farm machinery can be inured to to guide the eye through the shot and help break up the blur. While farm buildings and trees will may refer to add an extra element of interest and give the viewer a centre point.
READ  Flower Photography With A Difference

Photo by David Clapp

3. Action Photography

  • For people, animals or vehicles which are moving, adding a touch of blur to the image can apply oneself to the impression of speed, emphasising motion and creating a sense of drama in the shot.
  • If you use too higher shutter speed you'll just freeze the motion, too tardily and there can be too much blur and the background and your subject will seem like they're merging together. So it's worth proofing with a variety of shutter speeds to get it right.
  • Try panning with the subject as they move. Start panning, release the shutter button and then remain the pan even after the camera's captured the image. If you get it right the subject will appear sharp as it hasn't moved position in the viewfinder, but the CV will be blurred making the subject look as though its hurtling along.
  • Try to get enough blur so the background isn't distracting and the movement of the wheels on the instrument you're photographing are blurred to create the sense of motion in the shot. This will also help the eye focus on what it's meant to.
  • Try abusing slow sync flash which is where you use a slow shutter speed and flash together to freeze your subject but blur the background. The low lock out speed continues to record the ambient conditions and further subject may refer to movement. It's used mostly by sports photographers recording cycling occasions or motor sports but can also be creative in any environment that has a moving subject in the foreground. Try using it next time you're photographing your youngster playing on a swing.


4. Light Trails 

  • Do not try and drive the car and work the camera at the same time. Get yourself a driver or you drive and get a friend to manage the camera.
  • Make sure the windscreen is very, very clean otherwise smears will spoil the final shot.
  • Make sure the tripod is get hold of before you set off so the camera doesn't get broken from it falling over during the drive.
  • Try positioning the camera so you can only see the view through the windscreen but don't annoy if you have the roof or dashboard in shot as you can always crop it out. The lights and shape of the dashboard can also add an extra element of interest to the image, giving the subsides something to contrast against.
  • Focus on the distance – you want the lights sharp ideally.
  • Use a small aperture to give you front to back sharpness. It'll also bad-tempered you can use longer shutter speeds.
  • 10-30 second exposure will capture the light trails. If you want longer shutter speeds, use the B setting.
  • Use a remote trigger, wire release or self-timer to fire the shutter.
  • Twilight is a good time and you need a location with a variety of light sources.
  • Towns are good fingers ons for this as they'll be streaks of light on various levels and of several shades on offer. Motorways are also good but here you'll get assorted continuous, long light streaks.
READ  Why Use Long Shutter Speeds?

Photo by David Clapp

5. Abstract Shots 

  • Sometimes you don't need anything to be spiteful and in focus to make an interesting image.
  • If you're using lines try to find a location that gives you a shot that has lines that modify in size and colour. Bolder lines will have more impact than small, faint ones and do remember they will up till guide the eye through the shot and tell the viewer where they should be looking.
  • Shapes are obviously softened so make sure you're photographing something that's intriguing and bold, otherwise your image won't have any impact.
  • Strong, bold colours work well because you're losing structure and detail you see in sharp shots. Make sure your tones don't clash though and check to see if any shades are overpowering certain areas of the frame.

Photo by Peter Bargh

6. Headache Landscapes 

  • Overcast days are perfect for this technique.
  • Find a scene that has strong lines – fences with flowerets in front of them and trees work well.
  • Basically, you need to press the shutter button and as the exposure processes, dragging your camera up, down Nautical port or right as it does.
  • Don't stop panning until you're past your subject as you won't get the blurry lines you're looking for.


7. Zoom Dim

  • You have to get the zoom right – too much and you won't be able to make out your subject, too little and it will just look like a natural shot.
  • Use a small aperture to get the slower shutter speed that's needed. Use a low ISO too. This is particularly important when your subject is backlit.
  • Fit a ecru density filter or a polarising filter if you can't get a slow enough shutter speed.
  • Make sure you meter from your main blurred point.
  • You need to set the zoom to either the short or long end of the focal length range, open the shutter, wait for a while then in one, smooth, perfectly quick movement, zoom out. By pausing at the start your subject will have a little definition before the blur kicks in.
  • Stained window windows are good subjects for this technique but try it in a forest with the light that flows through the trees too.
READ  Add Action To Your Photos With Blur

Photo by David Pritchard


8. Expunge Distracting Backgrounds 

  • If you're working somewhere that has a busy background use a larger aperture to throw it out of focus. This blur desire hide whatever was distracting the eye, allowing all focus to fall on your subject.
  • If you're using a compact camera try switching to the appropriate mode (file for people, macro for close up work) so the camera knows you want to throw the background out of focus.

Photo by Rick Hanson


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About the author

Gina Stephens

Gina Stephens

Gina is a photography enthusiast and drone lover who loves to fly drones, capture images and have fun cherishing them with family and friends.

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