When Blur is Good in Photography

When Blur is Good in Photography


When is blur good in a photo and when is it bad?

In my previous post on getting your digital images sharp I suggested quite a few ways of eliminating blur from images and keeping them as sharp as possible. However sometimes blur is good and will improve your images no end.

I thought ‘blur’ would be a nice assignment over at the Flickr groups.

Here’s a few instances that a lack of sharpness might be a good thing:

  • Removing Distractions – throw part of your image out of focus (with a large aperture) and you can eliminate distractions in the foreground or background.
  • Creating Mood – sometimes a shallow depth of field with lots of beautiful blur can create a wonderful mood in your shots.
  • Creating a Sense of Motion – while sometimes you’ll want to freeze moving objects at other times the blur that such objects create in images can enhance the shot and convey to your viewers shots just how fast the image is travelling at
  • Abstract/Art – blur or lack of focus itself can actually become the focal point of an image in an artistic way.

I’m sure there are other ways that ‘blur’ or a lack of sharpness can be a positive thing in an image – feel free to suggest more ways in comments below and please post your images that use these techniques in our assignment on the topic.

Read more from our category

Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

Some Older Comments

  • Ron B August 12, 2011 09:55 am

    I accidentally blurred a picture without even knowing. I guess I was too close to the image with the intention of getting the small stone in the centre of the image sharp but only ended up blurring the lower half of the picture and the other half sharp, to my delight

  • peter k July 12, 2009 01:25 am

    I like shots taken by panning the camera. You have a nice, crisp and sharp subject while background is beautifully blurred. Another nice technique I like is to take pictures from a moving car. All you have to do is to focus on a certain subject (a windmill or a wind turbine i.e.) and to take care to have it all the time in focus (that means it should be at a distance of at least 150-200 feet). With a shutter speed of about 1/30-1/20 of a second you'll have a shot to be proud about !

  • david pfister July 10, 2009 05:19 pm

    I find that combining slow shutter with flash will some interesting results with close subjects.I took a photo of my grand daughter on her trampoline with hair flying. This gave sharpness to her face but the hair was blurred.

  • Blackout July 10, 2009 06:58 am

    I believe the right stutter speed comes in combination with how long your lenses are, of course if you are not using a tripod.

    However, if you have a tripod and the subject is still enough, on a day like that 1/10 or maximum 1/20 should be ok. it all depends on the environment (how fast are moving the cars around and how steady is the policeman.

    It all comes down to experimenting from maximum 1/50 to the speed you are able to hold the camera shake free without the tripod.

    Good light!

  • Molardaddy July 10, 2009 06:05 am

    Showing motion definitely fits this category. The shutter speed has to be just right though. The policman above is sharp surprisingly, while the moving cars are a blur. If anyone has some points on how to get that right shutter speed, I am all ears.