When I first started taking photos, I strived for the sharpest images possible. I wanted the widest depth of field and the crispest details. Once I started expanding my art, though, I began to experiment with blurring.
One example we’ve all seen before is light trails from cars. It’s easy to do; set your camera on a tripod or brace it with something, set a low ISO and long shutter speed, and click away. This particular example was taken on a busy New York city street for 10 seconds, braced against a traffic signal pole.
The street scene was nice (and one of my favorites), but it’s not really abstract. I tried a slow shutter speed again with some grasses waving in the wind, and came up with this image. This is something I would have hated in my earlier days, but now it’s a wonderfully abstract image, showing colors and motion.
Now that I’d taken photos of objects that blurred themselves during a period of time, I wanted more. I started experimenting with zoom blurs, where you zoom the lens during the exposure.
My first tries were during a night-time Mardi Gras parade.
Both of these were taken at a 1/2 second shutter speed, and zoomed during the exposure. It took quite a few tries to get the hang of zooming at just the right time.
The trick is to start zooming and then click the shutter. You’ll have many, many images you’ll trash, but you might come up with several keepers. Don’t be afraid to try; digital images are cheap.
Next I tried moving the camera as I took an image. I found a field of pretty flowers, set a long shutter speed (this is 1/25; I really could have used an ND filter), and moving the camera straight up as I took the image. This works really well with vertical objects such as flowers and trees, but almost anything will give you a nice abstract image.
I’m a big fan of flower images, and this is a wonderful way to create new images.
And finally, two of my favorite zoom blurs.
The red flower in the middle of the zoom really makes the left image, I think, and I’m really happy I found these blue and yellow flowers together. It’s like an explosion of bright colors.