The Lure of Blur

At some point, I suspect, every photographer looks at the brilliant colors of Fall, and wonders how to use them in a photograph. Especially, I might add, if it's windy... In some conditions, it is simply impossible to get a sharp image of autumn leaves, so one is forced to resort to "creative blur."  It is simply a case of working with what nature offers you; with sharpness out of the question, and a camera in your hand - what else can you do?

On a recent October day, I found the color I wanted, but the wind was waving everything around. So I abandoned any idea of a quiet still-life, or a colorful near-far "Sierra Club" landscape, and went for the color, plain and simple; I slowed down the shutter speed and let the wind create the motion. For half an hour, I burned through exposures like mad, checking the LCD just to look at which techniques worked - and which produced complete, irredeemable chaos (and there were ALOT of those).

These two images are ones I kept, out of a hundred or more. (You might have picked different ones - or thrown them all away - who knows?) The one above I liked because of its gauzy simplicity; it is nothing but pure, abstract color. The one below I liked because of the leaf shapes still visible through the layers of blur. The conventional wisdom on blurry pictures is that something should  always remain in focus for the viewer's eye to hold on to. But conventional wisdom is often something to be skeptical of.

These images are a real stretch for a hard-core wildlife shooter like myself. But they are a reminder that photography should be creative, risky and playful. Have fun out there.

5 Comments

    Thanks Kevin! Yes, it’s easy to play with different types of movement on a low shutter speed, horizontal, up and down, fast or slow, or just random swirls and motion, and they all turn out so very different.

    Lake Union is very photogenic at night.

    I like the one that looks like musical notes, too. My art college tutor had an expression, that a lot of the best art was a ‘happy accident’. I work on that basis a lot. You can engineer certain types of accident with the camera that are a lot of fun.

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