Weekly Photo Challenge; Blur

Blur can be used in photography in many creative ways, although a lot blur we capture we really don’t want. What is worse than looking back at pictures you have taken during the day and find that the sharp photo is in fact soft and blurry? Photoshop now has shake reduction filter that can help reduce some minor lens blur; still the rule is if the picture is not sharp, no amount of sharpening will make it sharper.
One of the biggest causes of blur is usually associated with shooting with a too long exposure for the lens being used. The rule of thumb is, the shutter speed should be no shorter than the length of the lens; i.e. shooting with a 300mm lens the shortest shutter speed should be (without a tripod) 1/300th of a second. Of course with VR and IS lens you do have a bit more leeway.

Squirrel Motion Blur

This week I went back to visit my squirrel friends with more nuts as payment for harassing them with my camera. The squirrels were quite active as usual in the mid-morning and were happily taking the nuts and then running off to eat or bury them for later. While they were running I wanted to capture them in motion. Shooting at 1/250 with a 300mm lens and IS active I could get some sharp shots; to freeze them running I had to pan the camera as I was snapping.

I got some OK shots but the blur for me wasn’t dramatic enough. Instead of using Photoshop to sharpen blur, I increased the blurring using Path Blur. I had never used this filter from the blur gallery before, and after watching Adobe Photoshop’s YouTube video I got the hang of it quite easily. I replicated a flash sync motion blur where the flash freezes the subject but everything else blurs due to a longer exposure. I used two layers one to apply the blur and the second to mask in the unblurred squirrel.

I would have liked to have the face of the squirrel sharper, in saying that I think I got a pretty good shot.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.

Also remember to check out what other photobloggers have been up to with this weeks theme Blur.

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20 thoughts on “Weekly Photo Challenge; Blur

    • Hi Yan, it depends on what is happening in the scene, if it is movement and you want the moving object sharp and everything else blurred you have to focus on the subject and as you take the picture move the camera with the subject.
      If the subject is still, you can use depth of field to isolate the subject (depth of field being the area that is in focus a shallow depth of field has a small area in focus, a wide depth of field has a large area in focus. This usually means using a large aperture like f5.6 or 2.8 and accurate focusing.

      • I covered a triathlon for a class project a few years back, my favorite image from the set is of a participant on his bike, the background is blurred but he and his bike are tack sharp. It was so fun to make. 😀

  1. How clever what you’ve achieved here Ben . Great effect . I’ve just taken a look at the blur option in PShop … and tried it out too .. something new for me .Thank you !

    • I knew that they had added this blur option in a creative cloud update but had never really found a use till now. It is quite simple to use. I applied it as a smart object so I could tweak it as I editing.
      I hope you have fun using this blur filter.

  2. A great shot. I think that was the problem I had with my March image for the One Four Challenge so that no matter what I did it was never going to be successful. Thanks for the info on Photoshop too.

    • Hi, I think there is a misconception that sharpening means it makes things sharp but in reality if it is not sharp it cannot be made sharper. Although you can blur things that are sharp. This one of the things that you can’t cheat in photoshop.

  3. This is a great shot! I’ve never even used the blur filters in PS. I really need to start learning how to edit my photos in there. Did you use burst shooting while panning the camera? Every time I try that all my photos come out horribly blurred.

    • I do shoot in burst mode as I pan. The trick when panning is to keep the subject in the same position of the frame as you move. I also use the auto focus that tracks a subject as you move to make sure I don’t lose focus.
      An idea to help you learn photoshop is just to open a picture there and play and write down what works. That is how started out.

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