Friday, May 17, 2013

Zoom Blur


The other day, whilst wandering aimlessly about, camera in hand, wondering what to do with myself, as I often am, I stumbled across this row of trees with a rather fetching sky behind them. The sun was fast disappearing and it seemed somewhat churlish not to get a photo, what with the sky going to all that trouble and everything. 

So I did.





As you can see, the upper atmosphere does indeed have a somewhat impetuous √©lan to it, and I’m sure you'll concur that it would have been wholly wrong of me to ignore such a vital display of vim and vigour on the sky's part. In fact I suspect the sky would held it against me for quite some time if I hadn't shown it the approval I did, what with it being the monumental diva it so blatantly is.

But having said all that, once I’d taken a couple of shots, there wasn't a great deal else I could do with the scene, I didn't let on to the sky of course, that affectatious prima donna would have made my life a living hell, and the last thing I wanted was another argument. The last time that happened I got in such a state I ended up roaring repeatedly at the top of my voice for it to leave me the hell alone.

Let me tell you, it certainly raised a few eyebrows at the weekly Stow-on-the-Wold farmers market. The way all those people acted, you'd think they'd never seen a fully grown man on his knees, dressed in tattered jodhpurs and a sweat stained beret, bellowing at the sky with tears of ruinous frustration streaming down his face, whilst frantically stabbing at the air with an ancient African artefact. Namely a Zulu Butchering Spear of Suppression.

Yes, I had a Zulu Butchering Spear of Suppression, don't ask me why I had it, I just did.

So needless to say I didn't want a repeat of that eventful day, and the 'difficult' months that followed. Although thinking back, the 'difficulties' might have been mitigated somewhat if I hadn't continually attempted to mutilate my genitals every time I was let outside.

Anyway, I was now able to freely mingle amongst conventional society again without a harness, and I wasn't about to jeopardise that.

So quietly and without fuss I decided to spice up the scene before me with a spot of zoom blur.

Zoom blur is a bit of in-camera tomfoolery where you take a picture with a longish shutter speed and simultaneously use the zoom function of the lens to, well, blur the image. It's as simple as that. 

f/13, Exposure 1/5 sec, ISO 100
As demonstrated here, the lens was zoomed in to start with and then, while the shutter was open, I briskly zoomed back so giving the effect you can see. It's a technique that requires a bit of experimentation, as different shutter speeds and quickness of zoom will affect how the image turns out. Here it is a bit ragged, the edges of the trees are scrappy and it kind of looks a mess.

This was probably due to the camera moving its position as I zoomed, as I was doing it handheld, it's very easy to nudge the camera with the act of turning the lens, especially if doing it quickly.

f/13, Exposure 1/6 sec, ISO 100
This one works better as I made the effort to keep the camera as still as possible and not zoom out quite as wildly as I had before. This results in a more structured look to the stand of trees, plus keeping the trails within the image frame has resulted in better finish to the effect. 

f/13, Exposure 1/2 sec, ISO 100
This one had a longer shutter speed, so allowed more time for the form of the trees to be captured by the camera, which makes for a less abstract image as the zoom effect is less pronounced. You can also see that the clouds have kept their composition a lot more, it almost looks as if they are from a standard capture, which gives the ghostly trails emanating from the trees a strange quality. 

f/13, Exposure 1/5 sec, ISO 100
And to finish off, this is probably my favourite of the bunch. The shutter speed was back to being faster, relatively, but I zoomed out much quicker and selected only the tops of the trees, so as a consequence it has produced a very smooth abstract image. Which, while not having as much recognisable detail in it, does have a certain appealing minimalist quality that I like.

So there you go, a couple of top tips for you; it isn't necessary to use Photoshop to get interesting effects in your images, just a bit of experimentation and imagination will do the trick. And never, ever take out your resentment (however just it may be) on your relationship with the natural elements in a communal location. It will only lead to unpleasant misunderstandings and possible genital carnage. 

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