Blurry pictures are a bad thing, right? Not always. In this tutorial we show you how to blur your pictures for an enigmatic, artistic effect.
If you’ve had drummed into you that a ‘good’ photograph should always be pin-sharp, it’s time for a rethink. Deliberately defocusing your images can create dreamy, artistic photos. Plus, blurring the edges of even the most run-of-the-mill subject can make it seem intriguing.
At the very least, shooting with deliberate defocus is a fantastic photographic assignment if you’re in a rut. You don’t need any special kit, just a location that offers a variety of subjects to experiment with.
The main pointers for a successful defocused shot are to pick a simple subject – choose something with a strong, easily recognisable silhouette – and to avoid cluttering your shot, as a busy scene will just look confusing when out of focus.
How to make artistic blurry pictures
01 Find your settings
You’ll use the same settings whether your subject is in focus or not, so take some shots in focus as you would normally and find a composition that you like. We were shooting on a cloudy day, so we used a shutter speed of 1/125 sec, aperture of f/5.3, and an ISO of 200.
02 Focus manually
Switch to manual focus, and focus on a point well beyond (or in front of) your subject. Review your blurry pictures on the LCD to see if they look right: too fuzzy and it will become a pointless blur, so find the focus point that creates a dreamy feel while still letting you recognise the subject.
03 Go exploring
Once you’ve shot your subject, scout about for more scenes and objects. Bold architecture and people in silhouette look especially good out of focus, though it’s worth noting that if you defocus shots of people too much, their bodies can take on an elongated, alien look.
Play with the in-camera filter options – warm oranges and sepia tones will add a retro, film effect to your blurry pictures.
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