Make mo­tion blurs

Add slow shut­ter speed ef­fects to your pics us­ing stacks and layer masks

Mac|Life - - CONTENTS - Ge­orge Cairns

Streaks of mo­tion blur can con­vey move­ment in ac­tion shots and pro­duce a more dy­namic–look­ing photo — an ef­fect you can cre­ate with some skill and an SLR set to a slow shut­ter speed.

When shoot­ing ac­tion with Ap­ple’s Cam­era app for iOS, though, you can’t set the shut­ter speed man­u­ally. In­deed, to try to ‘im­prove’ iOS’s pho­to­graphic re­sults, most sub­jects are au­to­mat­i­cally cap­tured us­ing a fast shut­ter speed, which freezes ev­ery de­tail. To add mo­tion blur to an iPhone shot, you could snap a Live Photo, then swipe up on the pic in the Pho­tos app and choose the Long Ex­po­sure pre­set to turn your clip into a mo­tion–blurred streak. How­ever, this tends to pro­duce an ab­stract–look­ing blur that lacks de­tail.

An­other ad­van­tage of us­ing an SLR when shoot­ing at slow shut­ter speeds is the abil­ity to add a burst of flash. This in­serts a sharper key frame into a mo­tion–blurred shot and re­sults in an im­age where you can clearly see the sub­ject and get a sense of mo­tion.

The re­sults can be im­pres­sive, but it’s a real chal­lenge to make the flash fire at the end of the ex­po­sure. For­tu­nately, you can use Affin­ity Photo to recre­ate an ef­fec­tive long–ex­po­sure ac­tion shot.

Here, we held down the Cam­era app’s shut­ter but­ton to shoot a burst mode im­age of a child on a swing. Burst mode cap­tures a se­ries of sharp shots, which you can merge us­ing Affin­ity Photo’s Stack tool. The Stack tool au­to­mat­i­cally aligns shots and then blends them to cre­ate a mo­tion–blurred sub­ject. The static ar­eas of the shot, such as the swing frame, and back­ground, all re­main sharp.

To add a sharper ver­sion of the child to the com­pos­ite im­age, and mimic a burst of flash, we used layer masks and the brush tool, as you’ll dis­cover be­low.

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