Friday, 26 June 2009

Souvenir Foto Friday: Amsterdam in Motion

Assignment 6: Blur on Purpose

I read the assignment notes for this on Flickr before the notes went up on the Souvenir Foto website; and I had a little panic.

Blur on purpose? It was like a return to the dark days of childhood photography. Handshake, cutting off people's heads - not good. How on earth would I blur on purpose without it looking like I gave the camera to a small child?

So I hit the internet, ah google, my old friend.

What I discovered was that there is a whole movement of photography dedicated to blurring on purpose. While the photographs I found were stunning, details on technique were not very forthcoming.

I did discover that it was all to do with playing around with shutter speed and aperture. Which meant I had to learn about shutter speed and aperture. Which meant that, three months after getting the camera I was finally going to have to break out the instruction manual.


The instruction manual was informative. It certainly told me how to set shutter speed and apperture but I still didn't understand what I was doing.

Next stop, the Digital Photography School . I read up on Shutter Speed and Appertures. Then moved on to Aperture and Shutter Priority Modes.

Now we were getting somewhere.

I had been particularly taken with a Blur on Purpose photo I had seen during my research, (now regretably lost in the internet) a black and white shot taken in Japan which showed blurred movement on a crisp background. I knew I wanted to do something like that, which would mean playing with the shutter priority mode, which blurs movement.

I took myself into the centre of Amsterdam and positioned myself on a busy cross roads. Then I just started clicking. I aimed for dense crowds and bikes. I shot at eye level and from the hip to see which came out best. I varied my shuttter speed until I found one that let in just enough light while still giving a good blur of movement, 1/20 on a very bright day.

In post-processing the black and white wasn't quite working for me though. It looked good but the bike wasn't quite right. When I had looked at the photo, the bike had seemed ethereal, almost ghostly and I wanted to play that up. So I cropped it down and layed the holga-ish effect from Picnik over the top. And it worked.

I am particularly pleased with the crispness of the shadow on the ground against the blur of the people above.

The original of the photo is in my photostream.


  1. That came out really well! I love the effect!

  2. Seems to me you nailed this assignment! Love the photo!