Secrets for attractive blurs

Attractive blurs can be quite challenging to achieve. The goal is often either to give a feeling of movement or just to reach an artistic creation. The following birdscape was created before sunrise at Alafia Banks:

Birdscape of Crows blur

Silhouette blur of Crows taking off before sunrise – Alafia Banks rookery, Florida.

ISO 640 | f/4.5 | 1/? | Tv Mode w/ evaluative metering +1 EV | AI servo focus

This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens and the Canon EOS 5D mark III handheld. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

The next photograph is a blur of a Double-crested Cormorant, also created pre-sunrise. Why are both images created before Sunrise? Blurs are typically created in low light ambiance. Before sunrise and after sunset are ideal times.

Blur of a Double crested Cormorant

Silhouette blur of Double-crested Cormorant before sunrise – Alafia Banks rookery, Florida.

ISO 800 | f/4 | 1/? | Tv Mode w/ evaluative metering +1 2/3 EV | AI servo focus

This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens and the Canon EOS 5D mark III handheld. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

The key to creating a blur is the shutter speed. Only a slow shutter speed will give the ghosting effect. I usually aim somewhere between 1/15 and 1/30 of a second. To do so, select Tv mode and dial a shutter speed in that range. The other trick is to set the ISO in auto. For the Canon 5D mark III and the 1D X, you can manually select the maximum ISO speed (3200 for instance) in the “ISO speed settings” menu / “ISO speed range”.

Another point of action is whether to pan with the subject or not. Panning means to follow the subject while pressing the shutter all the way down, while not panning would be to keep the camera still. Not panning will create a bigger ghosting effect. In the first photograph, I half panned, while I panned the best I could in the second one. The Cormorant came out less blurred and gives a very nice feeling of speed.

Can you guess which shutter speed I used for each photograph?

 

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Steven

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