Ever Heard Of Radial Blur?

Michael Laubscher All Authors, Michael Leave a Comment

Throughout the years of guiding I’ve noticed when photographers are happy and excited to get out into the field and when they are feeling that they should have had a sleep in.

Meaning that they are not happy with the weather conditions.

Unfortunately this is something no one has control of and I’m sure if we could pre-book/preorder the perfect weather conditions, a lot of us would of!

I challenge you to put a smile on your face when you hear that; at times, very early morning wake up call and seeing the cloudy grey skies.

You ask why? “Because we can play with high ISO’s and get nice grainy images?”

Grainy images are not the end of the world because it can be fixed but this in not the point.

The reason why I ask you to smile on a morning like this is because it is ideal conditions to work on your “creative photography”.

I’ll be describing a technique called “Radial Blur”.

What is radial blur?

It is a slow shutter speed technique that will only be possible with a lens that can zoom.

The effects of a radial blur image is that a small part of your image is in a bit of focus and the more your eye moves to the edges of the image, the more out of focus it will be creating a streak like effect.

How to do it?

You will need to be on aperture priority, high/fast continuous shooting activated; using a low ISO, a high aperture and this will result in a slow shutter speed.

So with a low ISO and a high aperture find focus on your subject while zoomed in all the way and if you have a shutter speed of 1/30 of a second or slower, you are good to go. The slower the shutter speed the more blur will be introduced.

Now that you have noticed that you shutter speed is slow enough keep your focus on your subject and while taking continuous images, zoom out all the way as quick as you can while trying to keep your camera as steady as possible.

Check out some of the following images to better understand what a radial blur image is.

ISO – 320

Aperture – f 20

Shutter – 1 / 4 of a second

ISO – 125

Aperture – f 13

Shutter – 1 / 13 of a second

ISO – 400

Aperture – f 18

Shutter – 1 / 8 of a second

ISO – 250

Aperture – f 20

Shutter – 0,3 seconds

The reason why its best to do this during low light conditions is not only because you will need extremely high ISO to get a sharp image but also because the colors are richer and more pastel like.

In saying this, it is still possible to do during good/bright light conditions but the result will be a bit washed out lacking those deep colors.

So please smile the next time you see cloudy skies on safari, try it out and let me know how it went.

Happy snapping!


About the Author

Michael Laubscher


Haunted by the allure of spectacular wildlife and African sunsets. I am a hunter-gatherer of natural light and candid moments, an appetite whet with a taste of the unknown and the smell of home; “This Is Africa”! I look forward to sharing life long experiences with you and helping you capture them. Please feel free to go check out my Instagram account

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