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Blur it up

Blurring your image can be a good thing or a bad thing. Unintentionally missing focus can completely ruin your image, this is definitely something you want to get right in camera...there's no fixing it with editing. On the same note, intentional blur can add drama, intrigue, or beautifully separate your subject from the background. Intentionally blurring your image can incite emotion or tell a gorgeous "emotive" story.

Separating your subject to make it "pop" is a favorite of mine.

Take in the scene before you. Notice how space separates the objects in front of you, not to the side. So the more near an object is to the focus area, it will be sharper and focused while farther away objects will blur more and more the farther back they are. This is called "depth of field." Anything to the side will be in the same "plane" as your subject so it will also remain focused.

Here, the focused subject is her hair. Notice how drastically the bubbles blur as distance separates them from her hair.

Typically you'll want to focus your image on the closest subject to you. But not always...mixing it up a bit can create a whole new look and create a different story or a new emotion. I personally like to mix it up because in playing around, you'll also create a sense of space and distance.

K-9's head is closest and focused, notice how the farther back things get, the more blurred they are.

Here, the focus is on the Christmas tree stand, objects both in front of and behind are blurred to create a sense of distance between you and the subject as well as to show more of the little scene.

So how do you create the blur in the first place? You'll need to look up how to change your "f-stop" on your camera. Depending on which lens you have, you'll be capable of choosing between an f1.4 all the way up to f32, I believe. The smaller the number, the more blur you get. The higher the number, the more you'll get in focus. I typically shoot between f1.8 and f2.8...basically the smallest number my chosen lens will allow. Shooting at such a low number will make it harder to focus where you want, so it takes practice but it's well worth the effort.

A bonus effect of intentionally using blur is creating bokeh because a light source is out of focus. It can be great for adding a little something extra pleasing to the eye.

String lights are wonderful for creating bokeh. The more out of focus the light is, the larger it appears to be.

Using the sunlight/daylight through the trees is probably the most common way of capturing bokeh.

Intentionally blurring the entire image can help it to appear more emotive or help you to tell whatever story you want. Maybe you want to just be artistic? or maybe you want to show that something feels not quite right or difficult to you?

Some creative fun

When is intentionally blurring your image not a good thing? That varies from person to person but for me, I'd say landscape images. You want to see the whole landscape nice a crisp all the way through, blurring it too much would make it difficult to see the glory of the nature scene in front of you. Unless you want to single something out. This also applies for a trip or weekend getaway, you want to see the things that you normally don't see. I'll also blur less if I'm creating a silhouette or shooting the night sky.

A vacation is a time you want to remember the surroundings, so be sure to focus on everything you'd like to remember.

Lanscapes are a good time for seeing everything focused.

Astrophotography is something you want in focus. Those stars appear tiny from our pov...let's keep it looking as it should.

A silouette is easier to create and sharper looking with more in focus.

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