Experimenting with Motion Blur

I have been seeing a ton of motion blur images on flickr lately & decided to give the technique a try. I didn't expect much considering I had never tried this before and my hands are anything but steady however after looking through the images I was fairly surprised. 

What is Motion Blur? According to Wikipedia Motion blur is the apparent streaking of rapidly moving objects in a still image or a sequence of images such as a movie or animation. It results when the image being recorded changes during the recording of a single frame, either due to rapid movement or long exposure. (click on this posts title to link to a great DPS tutorial on this technique).

What did I do? First off, I had to find a subject, which is not all that easy in an office setting! I saw my new valentines orchid on my way back into my office and thought that would be the perfect subject- I really wanted a pic of the orchid but I have orchid pics & wanted something unique and different this time. I set my camera to manual (because I also wanted to see what bokeh my lens would get at f/11- the supposed perfect aperature) & played with the times as I went... 

f/11 @ 1.3 seconds

This one was one of my first tries... Not very pretty to look at, it's just generally blurry as my hands were a bit shaky and moving up/down/left/right... So I tried to steady myself on the edge of my chair and decided to try short tight movements to the side instead...

f/11 @ 1.3 seconds

Getting there- I really like the dreaminess of the flower in this photo but I wanted it to be a little more defined also (how's that for an oxymoron?). My hands were getting steadier though- evidenced by the lines going to the right (pretty straight huh?) So I decided to try holding the camera still for a brief second, then panning to the right & shortened my shutter speed to 1/2 a second just to see what I came up with... 

f/11 @ 1/2 second

This one is just okay... I definitely got the flowers to be more defined but I lost quite a bit of detail in them as well due to the amount of motion blur. My hands are getting steadier and steadier but I just panned too much in this. Plus the background had too much going on with the file cabinet off to the left... 

f/11 @ .8 seconds

This one is a hot mess... Increasing the shutter speed to .8 seconds instead of .5 did not seem the way to go...   Add that to the fact that my hands/arms were getting kinda shaky & tired = a hot mess of blur. So I tried going back to my beginning settings and lowered them just a tad (from 1.3 sec. to 1 sec.)...

f/11 @ 1 second

FINALLY!! I got exactly what I wanted!! The perfect amount of blur, detail, bokeh, and dreaminess. I tried to hold my hands very still for this image and probably went through at least 10 before this one which were almost perfect but some were a little too blurry or too solid or had too much motion. I just stuck with it and knew that it would work once my hands relaxed and I had time to practice... I went into Camera Raw & edited this image, mostly working on the white balance as the fluorescents made everything kinda crazy looking.  I also added a white border around this image.... 

I am definitely going be to be trying motion blur more and more using different subjects. There's just something fun and slightly exciting about breaking a rule I almost live by when photographic things (ie NEVER move the camera)!!!

Location: My office- Eureka, CA
Date/Time: 2/25/11 @ lunch
Subject(s): Orchid- Motion Blur
Notes: handheld-- panning left in some images & right in others-- edited in Camera Raw


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