Take Your Photography into Hyperdrive with Zoom Blur Photos

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Okay, I'll be honest, Stonehenge is pretty cool looking on its own, but how mysterious and surreal does it look with a little zoom blur?

Zoom burst, zoom blur or zoom exposure is a great way to liven up a shot that wouldn't normally express movement. You can get fun light lines, make any setting look surreal, or draw people's eyes into the center of your image, just by playing with your zoom lens a little.

I wish I remembered to do this more often, especially in situations where there's some annoying backlighting - turn it to your advantage.

You’ll need:

  1. DSLR camera
  2. Zoom lens
  3. Tripod (optional)

Step 1 : Choose a subject

This technique is great for still subjects that you want to add a bit of abstraction or motion to, and for night shots involving lots of light. Play around; look for bright colors or interesting patterns.

Step 2 : Select shutter priority mode

Set your camera to shutter priority mode, usually starting with a speed of 1 to 4 sec. Once you get the hang of it, you can probably set it faster and achieve the same effect.

Step 3 : Choose your focus

What item do you want to be the center of focus? Zoom in on it fully and, if your camera allows it, lock the focus to that point.

If you don't have focus locking settings, focus in on your subject and switch to manual focus mode so it will stay set that way.

Step 4 : Frame your shot

Now zoom all the way out to where you want the edges of the photo to be.

Step 5 : Shoot!

Next, depress the shutter and, while the long exposure is underway, zoom in toward the subject until it fills the frame again.

Try keep the speed of your zoom action as consistent as you can, and be steady (this is where a tripod really helps). You should time the zoom to finish on the subject just before the exposure is finished.

Step 6 : Trial and error

You probably won't get something you love on the first attempt. Keep trying, adjusting your movements and previewing the results until you get what you're looking for.

You may need a slower or faster shutter speed to get more or less blur; you may want to switch to manual mode and adjust the aperture wider or narrower to get more or less light into the sensor. There are lots of variations on this theme, and it is a fun little tool to add to your belt.

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