Friday, January 16, 2009
Cool Motion Special Effects Created In Camera - 1/19/09
Zoom blur adds interest to images through movement
Zoom blurs are simple: open the shutter long enough to quickly adjust the zoom from wide to telephoto, and watch the dramatic results. You can start zoomed up close or at the wide angle; either way works, but some trial and error with your own personal style and lens will quickly teach you your personal preference. I like to start zoomed in close and widen out because I find it easier to focus and compose on a strong center of interest this way. Although it’s possible to create zoom blur without a flash, combining the effect with careful use of fill flash really takes the look to the next level.
To create a zoom blur with an on-camera flash, first choose a good zoom lens with a wide range—say, a 70-200mm telephoto zoom. (Point-and-shoot cameras are great for a lot of things, but for a fast manual zoom this effect requires a D-SLR.) Next, if you’re using a flash set it to front curtain (or normal) sync and adjust the flash exposure for the subject, using auto or manual controls according to your comfort level.
With the flash exposure ironed out, it’s time to account for the ambience. Since the flash is brief and we’ll want the motion of the zoom lens to register an exposure on the subject, it’s best to consider the flash exposure as a strong fill, and make sure that you use a manual exposure that is normal for the ambient light in the scene. If your ambient exposure is too dark, the blurs won’t register and you’ll end up with an unfortunately un-blurred flash-exposed shot. Choose your exposure wisely, making sure that the shutter-speed and f-stop combination allows for a slow enough shutter-speed. This will allow enough time for the zoom to move and produce a motion-blurred effect.
Keeping in mind that the flash is even quicker than a fast shutter speed—and since in this case we’ll be using a slower shutter speed—the plan is built upon firing the flash at the beginning of the exposure, so the framing should be appropriate for the part of the image that you want in sharp, critical focus. The same sort of effect could be achieved with rear-curtain flash sync at the end of the exposure, but then it’s harder to ensure that the composition and focus are exactly as you want them.
If you’re not using a flash, you can still make great blurs—even if you can’t guarantee making the subject as tack-sharp at the start of the image. The other exposure rules are the same, though, so you’re now ready to go.
Choose a subject that’s relatively close to the camera—a person will likely work better than a wide-open landscape without anything in the foreground. Choose a composition that also includes other objects and shapes around the subject (even if they’re in the background) because these blurs will create the distinct motion trails of a zoom blur. Greater contrast among these scene elements will also help to produce a more distinctive blur.
Here’s where trial and error take over. Experiment with various shutter speeds, zoom speeds, and exposure and flash combinations. The key is to think like the camera: know that the immediate flash will illuminate a close subject, and the subsequent zooming blur will create interesting leading lines to the center of the frame, placing the viewer’s center of attention exactly where you want it.