In Defence of Blur

Posted Monday, 13 August 2007 by Chris Garrett in Design, Photography
Read enough photography forum critiques and you will start to believe that blur is bad. In fact there seems to be a cult of sharpness ...
Shutter drag
Shutter drag

Recall the infamous Cartier-Bresson thread on the Flickr DeleteMe group?

Of course we want to avoid accidental camera shake, missed focus and blur caused by faulty equipment. But there are at least two types of blur that any photographer will want to use routinely.


The primary use of creative blur is to make the subject stand out, to separate from the surrounding clutter. Controlling the depth of field in a portrait using wide apertures allows only the subject to be in sharp focus, creating visual contrast between the foreground and background.This type of blur is called "boke". Some photographers enjoy this type of blur to the point of obsession!


There are several techniques aimed at showing movement through blur in an otherwise static shot. Effectively this is intentional camera shake.You can move horizontally or vertically to blur linearly, zoom in or out as you take the shot for and impression of forward or backward movement,or pan along with a moving object to blur the background while keeping the subject sharp.

If you have a flash you can use a "shutter drag" technique where part of the exposure is blurred with camera movement while the flash is fired so the subject is in sharp focus.


I guess there has to be some rules for those of us still cutting our teeth in this business. Accidental blur is not always a good thing, but used sparingly intentional blur can add greatly to an otherwise ho-hum composition.

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By Donncha on Tuesday, 14 August 2007 3:40 PM
I love mixing flash with a bit of blur. So much movement and hopefully the flash will catch some detail to draw the eye!
By chrisgarrett on Thursday, 16 August 2007 10:17 AM
Thanks guys :)

@Donncha - I find it difficult to use flash and blur, hence no examples! (I am sure with practice I will get better) but when it works it is a very cool effect :)
blur look's professional
By defekt on Wednesday, 28 November 2007 4:40 AM
if you wont to make an advertised picture or flash,so to me look's like more prfessional .thx an see ya.:D

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