Sunday, August 15, 2010

Blur It!

I don’t know about you, but when I look at a photograph on my monitor, I sometimes wish I had used a different shutter speed (to freeze or blur action) or a different aperture (for more or less depth of field).
By Rick Sammon Published in Quick Fix

After I was pleased with the effect, I used the Eraser tool (using a soft-edge brush) on the top layer and erased over the background area (mountain, sky and water) and the sandy area around the drummer—because those elements weren’t moving in the scene.

Here’s my original image. I like it, but I also like the feeling of movement that was added to the opening image. Using a flash and rear-curtain sync might have produced a similar effect: an image with both blurred and sharp subjects. In fact, I was originally going to title this column: Simulating The Rear-Curtain Sync Effect.




Check out the apparent shallow depth of field in the image. The soldier looking at me appears to be the only subject in the scene that’s in sharp focus, giving the impression that I took the picture with a long telephoto lens set at a wide aperture. I photographed these soldiers in front of the Forbidden City in Beijing.

Here’s my original shot. Again, I like it, but I also liked playing around with blurring part of the image to make the soldier stand out in the scene.

Using the same basic technique as described above, this time using the Gaussian Blur Filter, I was able to simulate the shallow depth of field. The process: I duplicated the layer, added the Gaussian Blur Filter to the top layer and then erased the area over the soldier.

Okay, it’s your turn. Check out some of your own still images and see how applying a bit ’o blur can change the feel of an image—and make working in the digital darkroom more fun!

RICK SAMMON leads photo tours around the world. Visit with Rick at

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