How to Take Good Blurry Photographs

Photographers spend most of their time trying to take sharp photos. They set their camera on a tripod and ensure a fast enough shutter speed. They’ll sit around for hours waiting for the wind to die down before they trigger the camera. And when they do trip the shutter, it’s usually with a remote switch so they don’t have to touch the camera and shake it.

I’ll admit, I typically do the same. There’s nothing worse than taking a shot that you think will look amazing when printed, only to discover there was a slight shake in the camera and now the picture just looks bad.

Lately, however, I’ve been experimenting with the practice of intentionally blurring some photographs. I got into it by accident. I was out taking photographs one day when, for whatever reason, I moved the camera significantly while triggering the shutter. The lines and color combining that resulted were cool. They almost looked like paint brush strokes. So I decided to try doing it on purpose. I would paint with my camera.

There’s a big difference between a blurry photo and an intentionally blurred photo. Blurry photos look like you were trying to get a clear, sharp image but you didn’t know what you were doing. An intentional or artistically blurred photo should remind you of something in a fine art gallery. If you’re going to try it, keep in mind that you still have to adjust for the optimum shutter speed, ISO and aperture.

When I shoot blurs I’m out in the early morning or late evening for the best light. I’ll set my ISO at 100 and open up my aperture fairly wide to an f/16 or f/22. There’s no need to blur your background with a short depth of field since the whole image will be soft. The shutter speed should be slow enough to allow your movement to matter. However, you don’t want it too slow or there will be no distinction at all.

The point is, you still have to pay attention to everything you normally would when shooting any type of photography. With the wrong light, subject, composition or exposure, your blur photography will still look bad.

Below is one of my favorite blurs. I was staying at an Airbnb in western Colorado farm country. While I was taking a walk one early morning I looked off in some bare trees in the middle of a field. I couldn’t believe it when I saw a muster of peacocks perched on the branches. There were eight or ten of them.

I didn’t have my camera at the time so I came back the next morning with it and tried to capture a few images. It was pretty early (read low light) and I was hand holding the camera. I knew I wasn’t going to get perfect pictures so after taking a few to prove to myself that I was actually seeing apparently wild peacocks in the middle of Colorado, I tried taking some blurs of them while they were flying down from the trees. The result was an oil painting like image.

Since then, I’ve blurred many subjects. It adds a whole new aspect to my photography and gives some variation to what I produce. It’s also artistically freeing during those times when I know I can’t capture perfectly sharp pictures. You can use any situation to your advantage, even when the situation seems to be giving you a disadvantage.

 

No More Sundays

For several months now I’ve been posting something to the blog every day of the week. I’ve made it a point to create something (prose, poem, drawing, photograph) new every day and share it. But lately I’ve been feeling like weekend posting is too much. Even something good like writing can benefit from a disruption in the routine.

I don’t want to get out of the habit of creating something every day. But I think I’m going to go down to posting only 6 days a week by taking Sundays off. 

Just Write Something

Over the years I’ve written prose, short fiction and poetry. But consistently writing, refining and finishing pieces has always been a struggle for me. Sometimes I’m inspired. The words just come to me. Or my first draft says exactly what I wanted it to say and in the way I wanted to say it. However, those pieces are rare and they’re not usually produced at will.

There’s a solution to this problem. It doesn’t have anything to do with methods or techniques. There’s just one little trick that I need to employ that solves my consistency and production issues. The trick is to write.

I tend to fear imperfection in my writing. More than that I fear not having anything useful to say. Not writing anything certainly takes the imperfections in my writing. And I don’t have to fear writer’s block. But I also ensure that I’ll never create anything good. I’ll never have the satisfaction of producing polished pieces or anything I’m proud of.

I think writing nothing is much more troubling than writing something bad.

Do What You Love

My son and I were looking for a new video game to play today when we came across one called CTRL-CV. Your character tries to navigate different rooms with platforms, spring loaded platforms, spikes and holes in the ground. At the same time you have doppelgangers that multiply rapidly around you.

The longer you wait to move, the more difficult it is to distinctly see yourself and where you’re moving. It gets disorienting very easily. But, if you move quickly, before you get swarmed by your other selves, you can see clearly enough to get through the obstacles unscathed.

The game reminds me of how early adopters of things like blogs, Youtube and Twitter were able to capitalize on those technologies and build huge followings. Now, there are so many millions of content creators and consumers on these and other channels that it’s extremely difficult to have your voice heard.

I love blogging, tweeting and posting on Youtube. But to have anything I produce discovered on a large scale by others I either have to rely on luck or find different channels that haven’t yet hit their peak. And who can tell what parts of the web will take off and what parts will disappear into the void next week?

It just goes to show that when you write, produce videos or any other creative online endeavor, you’re better off doing it because you love the journey. Not because you want to get online famous.

Hacking Your Mind

Have you ever been watching TV show where someone is having a heart attack and you start to feel a tightness in your chest or a pain in your left arm? Or maybe someone is standing on top of a tall building and you start to feel dizzy? When you watch a show or read a book you can get so engrossed in the story that your mind convinces your body that you are the one living it out.

When our minds encounter a story, they become extremely susceptible to the suggestions those stories put across. You can use this phenomenon to your advantage and hack your mind and body into doing what you want. You simply need to tell yourself the story you want to have come true.

OK, maybe that’s a little simplistic. Telling yourself you want to be in shape will not make it so. But telling yourself (with conviction) that you are athletic and can easily get into shape with the right exercise regimen will go a long way to getting you there.

If you say or hear something over and over, you will start to believe it’s true. If you believe something is true, your actions will typically support that truth. This is why self-help gurus are so big on mantras. They help shift your mind into a gear that’s in sync with what you want. In fact, many business writers suggest telling yourself that you are already successful before you actually are. Shifting your mindset

Of course this trick can be used negatively too. If you find yourself constantly mumbling things like “Nobody would ever hire me” or “I’m such an idiot”, you are much more likely to never get hired or do stupid things. Some people have been known to be chronically ill because they continually tell themselves they don’t feel good.

So whether you’re wanting to get healthy, become a better photographer, get an A in a class or improve your relationships, you should have a positive outlook on your situation. Not only that but you need to continually tell yourself the story that you want to have come true. Write it down and read it or say it out loud to yourself to ingrain it into your psyche.

Speaking what you want out of life is no a guarantee that you will get it. But you will be much more likely to get where you want to go with a positive outlook and consistent self-messaging.

Rebate Cards You Wouldn’t Want To Use

There are a lot of advantages to consumer rebate carts. But they’re all for the companies giving them out. For the consumer, you get a pseudo-debit card that expires 12 seconds after it’s mailed out. By the time you get the card in the mail after 6 to 8 weeks, the account maintenance fees have reduced your $3 rebate to 17 cents. Of course, you can still use that amount at any retailer that accepts credit cards – right?

There are some brands that have a unique advantage in the rebate card racket. They could almost be totally assured that the rebates would never be used. All they would have to do is make the card a bright color and emblazon their brand names the top. In no particular order, here is my list of the top 10 branded rebate cards nobody would want to use:

  1. Dulcolax
  2. Preparation H
  3. Bengay
  4. Gas-X
  5. Rogaine
  6. Tinactin
  7. Imodium
  8. Vagisil
  9. Benzoyl
  10. Depends