Monday, November 2, 2009

Motion Blur In Camera

One of the filters available in Photoshop (any semi-recent version) is Motion Blur. The typical use for the filter is to impart a sense of motion in a scene. If you've taken a set of shots at an automobile race in the bright sunlight it might be tricky it get good wheel spin and panning at the same time. If the shutter speed is high enough to stop the action you might as well have not gone to the race in the first place. You can get the same shot in a parking lot, next to that low barrier type fence. Cock the camera on a slightly jaunty angle, snap the shutter and head for the digital darkroom. Everything can be fixed in post. It "can be", but should you have to rely on Photoshop to create the excitement of the race? Probably not. Races should be exciting enough on their own. It's easy enough to fake something on the computer for racing. The car and driver should be pretty sharp. You'd want to put in "some" motion blur in the direction of travel. The background "should" have more blur in the same direction to give the impression of high speed. The wheel would be in need of a combination of motion and rotational blurs to have the viewer believe the car was going forward and the wheels were turning. No sweat, just a couple of tweaks in Photoshop and, instead of being in the parking lot at the mall, you're on the Autobahn, tearing up the road at 200 KPH (getting passed by someone doing 250). The image might be just as exciting (well, almost), but would the joy of getting the image be anywhere near is exciting? I doubt it. It's the old "no risk, no reward" thought. To figure out how that relates to today's image, hit the "read more".

About the "sharpest" thing in today's image is the out of focus foliage behind the players. Everything else is a cacophony of motion. Nothing needed to be done in Photoshop to impart a sense of action in this shot. It's already there. As I was shooting this game it was growing constantly darker as the sun dipped behind the hills. The field lights were on, but a little chimping showed that any attempt at getting much of anything sharp was a lost cause. The first few left me shaking my head, think it was time to put down the camera and watch the game. After a couple of minutes, things started looking more interesting. The "streaking" players were leaving streaks on the sensor with each click of the shutter. Now, typically, when you hear the shutter go cllllicccckkkk, you can expect to have something that's pretty blurry. Not necessarily out of focus, just blurred.

As a little "aside". I was at a photography conference a couple years ago, in a large, dimly lit auditorium. During a break a women in the row in front of me stood up, spun around and took a quick shot of the crowd. She looked at me and said "I hope you don't mind being in our newsletter". I told her I wouldn't be in the issue. She looked puzzled and asked how I could know that? I told her that her shot was blurry. After she checked her LCD screen she looked amazed and said "how did you know?". I explained that whenever you hear the shutter click as a two step process ( ca and lick), and you're hand holding the camera, you're going to end up with a blurry photo.

Back to today's shot. The "information" is all there. The ball is in motion. The girls are in motion. They're dueling for control of the ball. But , the most important ingredient in the shot is that three of the four girls (and the ball) are coming toward the camera. You can see that the girl on the right is much too blurry to be a center of interest in the shot. There interest in the shot is obviously the two girls in the center, trying for the ball. I probably shot fifty shots that night and ended up with this one a possibly one or two others that might work. The thought is that just because you run out of light you don't have to stop shooting. Stick the camera on a tripod or try something "artsy". You just might wind up with something.


Unknown said...

Hello Tom

Thanks. I did not know about the Motion Blur filter. It sounds useful.