Tag: blur effect

Blurred Lines: Shake Your Camera For A Different Perspective

On a recent backpacking trip in the Sierra Mountains, the weather one morning was in a tediously sunny state. Fine for hiking, but blah for photography. You know what I mean—an unattractive, contrasty combination of deep shadows and bright highlights where the landscapes just had a dusty, baked look about them. As is so often the case when I’m backpacking, I started to lament how I was passing scenes that had great photographic potential if the light was a little gentler. (These were fairly remote places I would probably never return to, making it even more frustrating.)

Then, while my friend, Allen, and I were resting near a shady stream surrounded by wildflowers covered in blotchy sunlight, I remembered how some photographers have experimented with shaking their cameras to blur a scene into a lusciously soft, impressionistic rendering. The effect, when done well, could reduce the scene to its basic colors, shapes and even textures giving the viewer a different way to see the world (which also happens to be my favorite reason for taking pictures).

I slowly moved the camera up and down. Canon 5DMIII set to ISO 100, f/16, 1/4 sec., 24-70mm lens set at 70mm.

A New Way to Overcome Bad Light

So given how I felt like my inner artist wasn’t being served by the current conditions, I decided that perhaps a blurry version of the scene—in particular, the flowers—might overcome the otherwise tragic lighting. Somewhat randomly, I chose an exposure of ¼ second, ISO 100, and let the camera select the f-stop which turned out to be f/8. (Under the circumstances, I figured depth of field wasn’t an issue.) With the drive mode on my Canon 5DMIII set for high-speed continuous (six frames a second), I then held down the shutter release and gently tilted the camera up and down over and over until I had taken, oh, 15 shots or so.

I was absolutely stunned by some of the images. Those splotchy highlights turned creamy. Distracting details became broad brush strokes of color. Ordinary objects felt magical. Even on my LCD, the images were so compelling, I just wanted to stare at them. There was something about the pictures that was both kinetic and soothing at the same time. I excitedly jumped from spot to spot as if I had just discovered the next best thing in the world. Allen, an engineer at Jet Propulsion Laboratory, was slightly amused that anyone could get so enthusiastic overtaking blur effects with expensive, ultra-sharp lenses.

I tried to move in one direction, downstream. Canon 5DMIII set at ISO 100, f/9.5, 1/8 sec, 24-70mm lens set to 35mm.

I spent the rest of the five days on the trail exercising this new creative muscle, especially when the light would have otherwise kept me from even looking at my camera.

Experiment, Experiment, Experience

I’ve since played with different scenes, settings and lenses. And I have a few suggestions based on what I’ve learned so far.

Slow but not too slow—Getting the right shutter speed is key. I found ¼ to 1/8 works best, but see if something else works better for you. Going too long, however, just turns the image into pixel soup, which might just want you want, but I think I lose too much of the scene’s basic flavor that way.

Manually set the exposure—One thing I discovered with those first shots was the wild variation in exposure depending on what the camera was pointed at. If the lens was aimed toward shadows, the overall exposure was lighter than if I started out aiming toward the brighter parts of the scene. So to be consistent, I just pick an average exposure, manually plug it into the camera and stick with that throughout the picture-taking.

Compriano estate, Tuscany region, Italy. Canon 5DMIII set at ISO 100, f/16, 1/6 sec. 24-70mm lens set to 35mm.

Handhold the camera—No need for a tripod here. You want the freedom to move the camera in various ways.

Keep the camera moving—Instead of taking one picture at a time, I hold down the shutter while continually waving the camera up and down, side to side or in circles. Each renders the scene differently and one might work better for the subject than another.

Be prepared to waste a lot of pixels—Take hundreds of pictures because only a few will ever make the cut. What criteria you use for editing is up to you. I like something that strongly hints at what was there while having an impressionistic aesthetic all its own. You might want something more or less defined.

Compriano estate, Tuscany region, Italy. Canon 5DMIII set at ISO 100, f/16, 1/4 sec. 24-70mm lens set to 35mm.

Restrict your framing—I’ve had some success with broad landscapes, but overall, I find this works best if I stick to concentrating on just a few trees or rocks or whatever happens to be there rather going wide.

Play with depth of field—I was wrong when I first thought this isn’t a factor. Wide-open apertures definitely render a scene differently than stopped-down ones. Try both.

Play with focus—Definitely set the lens for manual focus but experiment with focusing on a single object and then try the same shot with something else in focus. I’ve even tried shooting with the entire scene out of focus, which worked a few times but isn’t quite as magical as focusing on one thing before I start to move the camera.

In some ways, blur effects require as much skill and persistence as taking pictures with a steady hand. It’s also highly personal—as is most photography—where the images you show the rest of us are picked based on what you like and what you want to say about the subject. Plus, the amount of creative experimentation that goes into deliberately on blurred photos can renew your excitement and enthusiasm for the art of photography.

Here Is How To Blur Background In Lightroom

Sometimes you take a picture, but the end result is not as you expected, leaving too many objects in focus and diverting attention from the main subject of the photo.

In this tutorial, we will learn how to use the adjustment brush to blur the background of a picture and highlight the main subject reducing the depth of field, a common effect in close-up photographs. You can see the result in this before and after comparison below. Let’s begin!

Before and after

Step 1) Import or select an image from your library that has more than one object in focus so we can practice this effect. Go to develop mode and select adjustment brush from the panel on the right:

Selecting adjusment brush

Step 2) When we select the adjustment brush, the adjustment panel will appear right above the basic panel. In this panel, we can work with various adjustments in our picture, but these settings will apply only to the adjustment mask. Click “New” and let’s start a new mask.

Create new adjustment mask

Step 3) You’ll notice that the cursor changes to a different format (a circle with a cross in the middle, similar to photoshop). In order to view the areas that will define the mask, select the “Show selected mask overlay” In the right panel you can see some options regarding the adjustment brush aspect:

Adjustment Brush settings

Size – This is the brush size to be used, the higher the value, the bigger the image area that will be covered by the adjustment mask.

Feather – This option defines the hardness or softness of the brush, as an example of the brushstroke in the picture.

Flow – Defines the intensity of the stroke, the lower the value, the lower the intensity of the mask.

Just tweaking some of these parameters, we can already see the difference of the brush stroke. Let’s say, if we increase the hardness of the brush and decrease the size of the stroke, we will get the following result:

Brush Hardness and Size

In case you cover an area of the image on which you do not want to apply the adjustment mask, you can trim and delete it by clicking on “erase”, so the brush can erase the mask off unwanted areas. You can notice that the right panel has the same adjustments for the normal brush, being able to control size, hardness and strength parameters.

Erase options

After a couple minutes with the adjustment brush, the final mask will be like this:

Final mask selection

(You can note some areas of my image are not trimmed perfectly, but I’ve made it like this because of the white background, which will end up not affecting the final effect)

Step 4) Now it is time to apply the blur effect, uncheck “show selected mask overlay”, so you can see the changes on the image as you change the parameters in the right panel. For the blur effect, we will move all the clarity and sharpness to the left, decreasing the contrast and highlight from the edges only in the areas selected by the mask. In the example image, I used the maximum values, but you can work with different values depending on the result you want or photo used.

Tweaking clarity and sharpness

Step 5) We can save this adjustment brush setting for future uses, this can be done by creating a preset. Click on the two small arrows located in the right panel and select “save current settings as new preset ..”.

Creating an adjustment preset

Rename the preset with the desired name and click “create”.

Create adjustment preset

Step 6) For the final result I want the picture edges to have a more pronounced effect, we can do this by creating another adjustment mask by clicking “new”

Create new adjustment mask

My second adjustment mask ended up like the image below. To finalize the editing, click “done”

Second Adjustment mask

The final result can be seen below. I’ve also removed some objects that were in the corner of the image with the “healing brush” using Photoshop. If you have any suggestions or doubts you can write a comment below or contact me directly. See you next time!

Final Result