Sea Blue Lens


Blurred Vision Part 2

Last month, Exploring With a Camera was about using blur creatively when taking photographs. This month, Artistic Blur Part 2 is about adding blur to images during post-processing.

I don’t normally do a lot of “creative” or special effects post-processing. I’m more focused (pardon the pun) on capturing what I see and getting my photos to be sharp. Why would I want to mess them up by making them blurry in post-processing?

Then I saw a couple of other people’s responses to this prompt and it looked like they were having fun, so I thought I might try it. I pulled a few images from my archives and started to play.

102_0206 alium seed headStarburst

This is an onion that had bloomed and gone to seed in the garden. I used Photoshop Elements to add a Radial Blur filter with a zoom effect.

DSC_0046In One Basket

This blur was added in Lightroom. In the original photo, the basket was sharp while the eggs were out of focus. I moved the clarity slider to the left (minus 71) and decreased the vibrance and saturation, which gave the image a soft overall glow that I liked.

101_0726 bird angelGarden Guardian

In PSE I added a layer of Gaussian blur to this little angel using the Linear Light blend mode. Then I added a filter layer of enlarged grain.


In this image, the background was already somewhat blurred due to the depth of field, but the bird was sharp. I tried several different effects and decided I liked this one best. I added a texture layer (Empty Page, a free texture from the lovely Kim Klassen) and then added a Palette Knife filter. I’m not completely satisfied yet and may try some other things with this one.

Here are the four images before I began playing with them:


I really enjoyed this exploration. I’ve already got a few more images in mind that I’d like to try some of these techniques with. Thank you, Kat, for all of the fascinating aspects of photography you’ve introduced me to through Exploring With a Camera.


Blurred Vision

Coming and Going

Coming and Going

Hi — I’m back! I didn’t deliberately set out to take a month-long blogging break, but that’s pretty much what happened. Don’t know why, but I guess I must have needed it.

I can’t say I’ve got any deep thoughts or dramatic breakthroughs to report upon my return. But since my Word for 2013 is Explore, I thought I’d jump in with Kat Sloma’s Exploring With a Camera. Each month, Kat offers up a lesson on an aspect of photography, with clear explanations, how-to’s, and plenty of examples. This month’s exploration was “artistic blur.”

I spend a great deal of effort in trying to get my photos to be as sharp as possible. The concept of trying to blur a photo by moving the camera around during exposure, for example, or by deliberately not focusing before capturing an image is difficult for me to grasp. I tried some experiments for this lesson but, sad to say, they were not successful. However, in looking through my archives I found that I do use other types of blur to create the effect I want in a photo.

Desert Willow

Desert Willow

In this photo, I used a shallow depth of field to hint at the setting of this desert willow, but the blossom is clearly the subject.



In this case, even though it’s the grass that’s in focus, it leads my eye to the cottage in the background. For me, the cottage in the soft, warm evening light, with its sense of peace and quiet solitude, is the real subject of the photo.

Summer Storm

Summer Storm

I took this photograph because of the blur caused by a brief but intense summer rain pouring down the window.

Window Waves

Ripples in Time

While this image was taken on another rainy day, the blurred distortion of the clapboards is caused not by rain but by the wavy antique glass of the window that I was shooting through.

Ripples In Time

Water World

These are ripples of a different sort. The water in this cove seemed very calm, but the blurred reflection tells another story. This is one of my favorite reflection photos.



In this image of the Los Angeles skyline taken from the Angeles Crest Highway, the mountains and distant city are blurred by mist and rain.

Slow Water

Slow Water

This blurred water is caused by using a slow shutter speed, a common technique used by landscape photographers to give moving water that milky effect. To be honest, it’s not something I do often, but I was experimenting with it one day and this was the result. To me, milky water looks very unnatural; I prefer to freeze the motion, leaving the water clear. But I did enjoy trying and comparing the effects of different shutter speeds on this occasion, and I’ll experiment more with it in the future.

Spots and Stripes

Spots and Stripes

This effect was achieved by shooting through a flowering shrub. Focusing on the bird beyond caused the foliage to blur into a translucent wash of color. I’d like to say I did this on purpose, but I was quite surprised by the result when I downloaded the images.



The blur here is caused simply by hand-holding the camera. The interior of this church was very dark so the shutter speed was slow. It’s sharper than I expected to get, but I like the softness of the glowing candles.

Angry Squirrel

Angry Squirrel

Autumn Gold

Autumn Gold

My apartment in Maine backed up to the edge of a river, and I had wonderful views from my windows. I took a lot of photos through those windows, with more or less success. These are two of my favorites. I was shooting through a double paned window and a screen, which gave these images a soft-focus effect that I like.

The Blues

Singin’ the Blues

Car window + Raindrops + Reflected Sky + Wide Open Lens. Once I’d have just thrown this away, but I like it. So with this little abstract, I’ll close my exploration for now and go link up with Exploring With a Camera: Artistic Blur. I think I’ll make it just under the wire.


Repeating Myself

In this month’s Exploring With a Camera: Repetition, Kat Sloma presented an excellent tutorial on the various ways repetition can be used to enhance our photography. These can include repetition of object, shape, color, line, and light, as well as combinations of these and more.

As I read her explanation and viewed her examples, several of my own images came to mind immediately. It was interesting to look through my archives and more recent photos to see what part repetition plays in my photography.

Here are a few examples I found:

Resting at Reny’s

Danger – Work Ahead

Let’s Scoot!


Multiple Mugs


Spring Jewels


Three Birds

Four Birds

Mission San Buenaventura

Ventura Pier

I love Kat’s explorations. Each one is like a mini-photography class and I always learn something valuable. As I look at the photos above, I realize that I took each image precisely because of the repetition, even though I was often not consciously aware of it. I’ll definitely be thinking about it in the future.


What’s Your Sign?

The Kat Eye Studio’s Exploring with a Camera topic for this month is Signs. I had a lot of fun searching through my archives as well as more recent photos to see what signs of signs I could find in my pictures.

There seem to be three main reasons I include a sign in a photo. One is for information — to record something about a place that I’m visiting. The second is because I am attracted to the way it looks, either on its own or as an element of a composition. The third (and most frequent) is because the sign itself strikes me as interesting in some funny or quirky way. I see such a sign and immediately begin telling myself a story about it.

Here’s a random assortment from my sign collection, starting with one of my all-time favorites:

Ever the Optimist

This sign was posted on the door of an antiques (i.e., junk) shop in Maine. I’ve often wondered how things turned out for Steve.

And on a related theme:

I Do’s and Don’ts

This wildlife sanctuary on a bluff overlooking the sea is a lovely spot for an outdoor wedding, but you’d definitely want to hold the reception elsewhere. The juxtaposition of the three signs cracked me up.

Seen Better Days

Notice the sign embedded in the granite boulder, lower left?

As She Was

The beautiful brass plaque¬† includes a glimpse of the “before” of this formerly grand old home that is now just a ruin.

You Are Here

It’s good to feel certain about one’s place in the world, even if only for a moment.

Beach and Bog

Ooh, let’s go play in the peat bog! Besides, it’s so much closer than the beach!

Say What?

I guess bears aren’t the only thing to fear in the woods. Finding this sign posted alongside the trail on one of my favorite nature walks did not give me a warm and fuzzy feeling, but it did make me glad my warm and fuzzy jacket was brightly colored. Why would hunting be allowed on a nature preserve with high visitor use? Why wasn’t there a sign to warn visitors to watch out for hunters??

Tools of the (Sign) Trade

Just think of these stencils as signs-to-be. And see that NO GUNNING ALLOWED IN THESE WOODS? Now, that’s the sign I would have preferred to have seen posted in place of the one above.

Bygone Days

I couldn’t resist the early morning light on the old-fashioned grocery store sign.

To the Point

I was hungry when I came across this sign. It told me all I needed to know.

How Now, Colorful Cow?

The grammar nerd in me hates it when people misuse quotation marks for emphasis, but I still loved this whimsical “OPEN” invitation.

Dreams for Sale

My daughter and I drove past this house for sale on Campobello Island several times when we were vacationing in the area. I loved its simple lines and location overlooking the bay and fantasized about living there year-round.

Believe It!

The lighthouse was indeed picturesque (and I took my share), but so was this rather endearing sign hand-painted on a granite block.

But On Top Is OK

Probably everyone has a favorite shot of someone flouting a No Parking sign. This is mine.

Trap Tags

The colorful tags on this lobster trap, washed onto a rocky beach by a storm, are the signs which identify its owner.

Cloud Bank

I love this picture, and the sign. Don’t know why, I just do.


Doesn’t this tattoo studio with its hanging baskets of flowers, bright OPEN banner, and classic movie reference (note the sled) tempt you to go inside?

Closed Sunday

The beautiful blue, the sunlight and shadow, the peeling textures all combine to make this one of my favorite signs.


This is a sign with a message worth thinking about. Every summer, the owner of this frame shop plants the most amazing flower garden, all in pots and window boxes in front of her store and the ones on either side. I couldn’t resist trying to capture myself “in the garden.”

Thanks, Kat, for another great idea to Explore with a Camera. I suspect I’m going to be a lot more conscious of signs from here on out.

Come check out the linkup, everybody!


Night Work

I didn’t think I did much night photography, but if you define “night” as any time between sunset and sunrise, it turns out I’m quite fond of it!

Evening Harbor

Nightfall at the Farm

Rubble and Reflections

Night Work

Midnight Magic

I’m linking in to Kat Sloma’s Exploring with a Camera: Night Photography.


Repeating Patterns

This will be another first, as I attempt to link up to Kat Sloma’s Exploring With a Camera. The current challenge is to find repeating patterns to photograph. At first, I couldn’t think of anything.

Then I started seeing them everywhere I looked.

I found them in architecture.

I found them in nature.

I even found them in shop windows.

Somebody, please stop me!

I know…I’ll go walk on the beach and think about something else….