Motion Blur

Technical: Ektachrome slide film

Sometimes you want blur. It implies motion. If you stop the action with a fast shutter speed, it’s great. But you may in fact want the image blurred. There is a fine line between out of focus and making a point. One is technical understanding of your equipment and the other is serendipity. On this image taken many years ago with a manual camera and slide film, serendipity was the order of the day. I had no clue [no LCD screen] as to what I got until long after I was gone to have the film developed.

The Critical Moment

Technical: Nikon camera, slide film, exposure unknown

The critical moment – the critical shot. I took this picture in London many years (decades) ago. Julia was right. There is a difference between slide film and digital capture. I won’t be going back to film anytime soon, but I can now see her point. I haven’t looked at these slides in a long while. To illustrate, I was careful about shooting photos because in those days you really didn’t shoot freely. I took about 30 to 40 rolls for a trip of two weeks and shot much less. That’s roughly about a thousand images? Now, I shoot that many in a few hours sometimes. Anyway a pet peeve is that the motor drive won’t save you. But at the same time the critical moment is easy enough to miss. This image was taken as the third in the series. If I had only one of the first two that would have been ok and I would otherwise be happy. But the last shot, that’s a keeper. In the days of film, you would have to wait to see the image after it was developed. Now, you can cheat and look at the LCD screen. But by the time you review, the moment has passed. Anyway the point is to stick with the situation until you have the shot. And remember it’s quality not quantity.

New Year

Technical: Nikon D200, 1/200 sec, f5.6, focal length 400mm

I have the VR setting on. Ordinarily the rule is 1/focal length. I should have been at 1/400 sec. The point of this image is to try to demonstrate telephoto perspective. At full 400mm the depth of field is compressed. Objects near to far are compressed upon one another. It serves to enhance the crowding effect. Here I wanted to emphasize the crowd. Large as it was it seems even more crowded. Then, the buildings on this winding street meet and contribute to make it more so.




Technical: Nikon D200, 1/200 sec, f4.8, focal length 56mm

At the Chinese New Year Parade, we were in close quarters. There are some points to keep in mind. Perspective is an issue. But I believe it adds some tension to the image. It emphasizes the grill, which is ok. The camera is not at eye level but more horizontal to the car. Also I tilted the camera slightly to get a more dynamic image. Just enough of the back of the car is showing. The image is in motion even though the car is not. So for cars, get low and go for a low angle distortion. Depending on what you wish, this effect can be exaggerated more.

David Grandma

Technical: Olympus, 1/70 sec, f2.8, focal length 5mm

Another camera point and shoot trick is to take your own picture. You simply extend your hand and shoot. You can see David’s left shoulder extending. He was traveling with his grandmother in Europe. And they met one of his friends, who happened to be traveling in the same city. It was a random meeting, I think (you never know). Anyway back to perspective. The closer subject will be larger – David. The distortion is not too bad. It does preserve a nice memory.

Ryan Jolie

Technical: Nikon D90, 1/200 sec, focal length 18mm, f8

Kids change so fast. Already Jolie looks so very different than a year ago. Susan has another good image. The composition is excellent. The anchor’s diagonal line follows the heads in a parallel diagonal. It’s also good to note that the anchor is not completely in view. Susan has sacrificed the end of the anchor in favor of the kids. You don’t need to see the whole anchor but you know it’s there and your imagination will do the rest. So the picture is that much stronger because the viewer is drawn to the kids, which was the point of the image. A picture of the anchor alone would be different entirely. Then you would have to struggle with exposure. In this image the anchor is under exposed. It’s not a problem because the kids are the subject.

Kid, Dog, Invisible

Technical: Canon EOS 7D, 1/125 sec, f7.1, focal length 37mm                Technical: Canon EOS 7D, 120 sec, f22, focal length 100mm ND filter

Cousin David sent this as a visual joke – kid, dog made invisible. The visual illusion play is about the kid and dogs one moment and the fountain of water the next. In putting this together, one needs to pay attention to a few things. First the perspective has changed from photo to photo. By this I mean that the focal length has changed. If you notice the focal length went from 37 to 100. This takes you from wide angle to tele. The effect would have been better if the photos were exactly the same in terms of perspective. Side by side this would probably have worked and even better in a slide show. But the key is to keep the perspective the same. Of course on the fly this is indeed not easy to do. And in this case the use of a tripod would have ensured the desired result. Spontaneous events are not easily staged nor anticipated.

Correction: I have been informed by David that the exposure was 2 minutes (see comment). That makes this like a pinhole camera effect. The exposure is so long that the animals and child fail to register while the water is still there. If you notice, which I now do, the water is blurred from the long exposure. Thanks for clearing that up David. Now I get it.



Technical: Canon EOS 7D, 1/80 sec, f 8, ISO 1250, focal length 52mm

Good shot. If pushed to comment, I might consider the background and cropping. The space to the left is distracting. I might want to get rid of the Walgreen sign. There might not be much you can do with the light posts. I might try to use the negative space of he dark blank wall more. It isolates the musician. Otherwise crop vertical. Recently I have admired a picture of my niece that had a large negative space offsetting her portrait. It has me thinking that this can really work in a horizontal portrait. As is, it’s still nice.




Technical: Nikon D200, 1/250 sec, f8, ISO 100, focal length 150mm

Horizontal portrait. There is a balance with Santa off to the side and a blurred background. I suppose one could crop out the out of frame red suit on the left. Among the many Santas who attended Santacon in early December, this one was about the best representation of what Santa must look like in a traditional sense.



Technical: Nikon D200, 1/80 sec, f5,6, ISO 100, focal length  130mm

There is some distraction of the red color in the left corner. Dead center is a Santa standing somewhat isolated. This breaks the rule of putting your subject dead center. With the crowd, this may be necessary to allow the viewer’s eye to quickly settle. The focus is soft. The shutter speed could have been faster.