Hi, my name is Giovanni Ruffinengo and I am a student who likes photography. I currently study mathematics in Italy and for me photography is the constant construction of the relationship between the photographer and the images. Anyway, I would love to own an Owl.
As photographers, we always struggle to get a perfectly exposed shot, along with a shutter speed that allows our images to turn out sharp and detailed, especially with moving subjects in the frame. We look for cameras capable of higher ISO and faster lenses and we heavily rely on tripods when the lights go down. Scrolling through my catalog, looking for the best images for this article, I struggled to find blurred shots. As of now, I literally have only 15 shots in which motion blur is employed as a creative effect.
I don’t mean to say that sharp images are to be avoided. Of course not. What I intend to say is that, sometimes, setting a freezing-action shutter speed is limiting our creativity. In fact, motion blur can make a scene much more dynamic: with cars, it’s almost a must.
I took this photo in Finland, at sunset. I was photographing the landscape when I heard the car approaching. Because of the light levels, I kept my shutter speed fairly low and panned with the car, succeeding in keeping the rearview mirror quite sharp.
This one was taken during my recent trip to Greece. I employed a 3-stops ND filter to increase the exposure time. I took many photos like this, which is the best compromise between the center sharpness and the corner blur that I could get away with. Taking picture from a moving car is a technique that I still have to master, unfortunately. Again, the intent was to portray the speed at which we were moving. This idea is certainly no recent: futurists were experimenting with it more than one hundred years ago.
You don’t always need a slow shutter speed to get blur: the next image was taken at 1/1250th of a second which I thought was plenty to get a sharp shot (I’m not talking about 100% crops here). It turns out it was not enough, and yet this is my favorite picture of a sparrow.
Of course, motion blur can be used to create some abstracts, too. You can go from something completely unreal like this:
To something a bit more down-to-earth:
These circles of light are a permanent artistic installation in front of the Church of the Cappuccini, in Turin. Definitely check it out if you happen to be close by. Sometimes blur can strengthen the feeling of the picture:
I take this picture the night of Halloween. My friend was wearing a heavy make-up and holding a rose in her hands. The blur and some super-destructive post processing really brought the worst out of her! Finally, motion blur can make up the whole structure of an image, all by itself. Without the panning, this shot would have been nothing more than a snapshot.
Every time I look at it, the look that I get back by the first kid amazes me. Despite the impossibility to recognize much.
Just to end, I wanted to include a picture showing that blur isn’t everything:
The tension on the face of this young boy would have been completely washed out by a longer exposure.
This guest post was contributed by Giovanni Ruffinengo. You can see more of his work in his gallery at 500px.