Blurring Experiment

Netball - Waiting for the action1/15 at f4.0, ISO 100
Edited and Cropped in Lightroom

There are days when I have no idea what I want to take a picture of, or am not even sure I want to get out and take photos.

Yesterday, I had a bit of both those feelings. However, I’ve made a committment to this blog, and I will stick to it! I was down in Penrith to watch a friend’s Grand Finals in Indoor Netball. For those who don’t know what it is, it seems to be a mixture of basketball and ultimate frisbee with some additional positioning rules. It is very popular in Australia, and supposedly across the commonwealth. I do have to say that I had never heard of it before I got here (even though Canada is part of the commonwealth); perhaps we’re too busy playing hockey? 😉

I didn’t even bring in my camera initially because indoor netball is played within a netted field which gets in the way of having clear shots of the action. As I sat waiting for the game to begin, I started visualizing a photo that reversed the usual convention of having the subject in perfect focus while trying to get distractions disappear by throwing them out of focus using a larger aperture (small f-stop like 1.8 or 2.8). My plan was to get the netting in focus while having the players be out of focus. No idea how it would turn out, but hey, this is an experiment right?!?

Here’s a couple of shots from that experiment:

Netball - Sharp Net, Blurry Players1/60 sec at f2.8, ISO 200

Netball - Sharp Net, Blurry Players1/50 sec at f2.8, ISO 200

Not bad, I thought they looked pretty cool. As I began to take action shots, I noticed that in addition to the out of focus blur caused by the small aperture, I was also getting some motion blur (you can see it in the shoes of the player in the photo above).

I thought I’d try to increase this effect by stopping down my aperture (making it smaller = f-stop larger) and decreasing the ISO. I was still tied to having the net in focus and the players out of focus. Working at a shutter speed of 1/15 (well slower than the recommended shutter speed to prevent camera shake motion blur) I had to use the armrests of the chair I was sitting on to steady my hands. Here’s one example of what I captured:

Netball - Net in Focus, players not, longer exposure1/15 sec at f4.0, ISO 100

I liked it a bit better as it felt more dynamic, but I wanted to take it a step further. Netball is a dynamic game where the players are constantly stopping and starting. So I then manually focused on the centre plane of the court and started trying to capture photos where one or two players were in stillness while being surrounded by fast moving action. I was able to achieve that both in the very top picture (which I thought has the best balance of stillness and motion), and the two below:

Netball - Action Blur Mix1/20 sec at f4.0, ISO 100
Edited in Lightroom

Netball - Action Blur Mix1/15 sec at f4.0, ISO 100
Edited in Lightroom

So as you can see, as I continued to shoot I came up with new ideas and tested them out! For those of you counting, I had to deal with 3 different kinds of blur.

Here’s the synopsis:

  1. Out of Focus Blur caused by a larger aperture and having the net quite close to me. Also know as a shallow depth of field.
  2. Motion Blur caused by having a slower than usual shutter speed while people are moving quickly. You can see this effect most strongly on players’ limbs.
  3. Camera Shake Motion Blur caused again by having a slower than usualy shutter speed and the camera moving in my hands while the shutter is open. This is generally the least preferred type of blur.

I don’t think the images are that amazing, but it was a good learning experience. I know approximately what shutter speed I need to use for certain creative effects when it comes to sports!



4 Comments on “Blurring Experiment”

  1. rachel jane says:

    I love the first picture (black and white). The concentration on her face whilst there is bustle around her!

  2. vk says:

    I definitely like the ones where at least one player is in focus.And I think the BW works really well in this situation.

  3. I, too, like the B&W; however, I really do like all of them… Very creative, Matt! Can’t wait to see what you come up with next 🙂

  4. Matt Korinek says:

    Thanks everyone! This experiment is definitely getting me to try new things to keep things fresh for both me and all of you!

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