Tip of the week: Blurs, the good, the bad and the ugly

Blurs are something we absolutely always get with photography, mostly in form of camera shakes and slow shutter speeds. Most blurs are undesirable and unartistic, while some are deliberate work of art. Just like any good photograph or illustration, a good blur does require artistic outlook and effort. Let's see what separates the good blurs from the bad and the ugly.

Bottle of champagne with glass over blur background

Simple rule: if it adds to the artistic value, it's a good blur. If it does not live up to the mark that much but still is useful in some little unseen way its still bad and if it's really pointless one click blur or just a bad photo lost to a huge camera shake, its ugly!

Good blurs: These are the ones that add to the photo rather than coming in the way. Photos that help show motion while still preserving focus of the subject, beautiful bokeh effects in a well focussed portrait and so on. Here are some fine concept examples:

1. Tilt shift miniature effect: Many cameras come with this effect, mimicking it is not easy but it leads one to think of the shot as some sort of miniature model than the actual life like scene it originally is.

2. Soft blurring specific image parts: Blurring part of the image for bringing back focus on the required area or blurring undesirable areas is quite productive at times.

3. Focal zoom blur: As it suggests, a technique to barrel twist your zoom ring while shot is being captured to give a zoom in blur effect, this can be done is image editor too. This brings up specific person or object amongst others in the crowd.

Car on the road with motion blur

4. Orton effect: Developed by Michael Ortonto imitate watercolor paintings, this is done by using different methods in image editors today, most commonly by using 3 layers. One is kept blurry, one is bright while one creates the fade effect. The layers are used with multiple exposure of the same image. The technique is quite elaborate to be included in this blog.

Fall foliage leaves on wall with Orton Effect

5. Soft bokeh backgrounds: As the name suggests, bokeh lights and highlights in the background often add a lot of art to an otherwise boring photo.

6. Speed in motion: The most classy of them, the speedy blur, showing the subject in focus and the background in motion

7. Night motion: inverse of the above, here the moving objects leave a trail, most used with car lights and people in an urban setting.

Bad blurs involve attempt at creating some good blurs that have failed to meet the desired outcome. often we would try to achieve some good artistic value but it can be a failure. These blurs do not add much to an image and the image is often good without them.

- Hiding faces with blurs.-Bad masking of trademarks with blurs.- loosing the subject and edge bleeding while creating a blur effect.- Messing the image composition by creating blur in an undesirable pattern.

Abstract motion blur effect. The lights of the streets. View from the car

Ugly blurs: These are the disaster blurs. Simple overdone attempts or complete focus failures. It's pointless for one to create the image in the first place, but its often accidental. some examples:

- Shooting in a moving car or vehicle, cannot make head or tails of what the image means- Tripped camera- Just one click, heavy handed gaussian or any other blur-Anything else that looks ugly on its face!

Laptop with video game on it.

Photo credits: Funkeyfactory, Jakub Gojda, Michael Distefano, Tom Wang, Viculia.

Your article must be written in English

February 26, 2019


An interesting topic. Latest image stabilisation lets you combine blur with sharpness.

February 23, 2019


How many of you did click on the last picture just to check what it is? Well, I did it! :)Thanks, nice article. :)

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