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  • Writer's pictureStephen Rodger

Minimalism (the easy way).

If you've not really seen this technique before then you're in for a bit of a treat. On the other hand if you have, I'm assuming you didn't click the link, and so I'll be catering to those that are coming to this fresh.

Sometimes something comes along which is quite straightforward to do and seems to yield results way out of proportion to the time invested. This style of controlled blur photography is one such approach.

The pictures taken here were all made on the same day at Yellowcraig Beach at the mouth of the Firth of Forth in Scotland. The only kit I'd say you really need is a tripod, other than that any camera and lens combination will work.

As it happens I used a 3 series Gitzo systematic tripod with a Wimberley head, a 600mm lens and a full frame dslr. Quite frankly I could have used any focal length. Since I was standing quite a way from the shoreline if I'd walked forward 40 meters and used a 200mm lens I would have been able to replicate these pictures quite easily.


1. Make sure your tripod (and your camera) is level. If there's one bit that really matters this is it. Use either the built-in level bubble gauge built into your tripod (if it has one) or the digital level that you can find displayed on the back of most dslr's.

2. Use whichever mode you feel most at home with on the camera, aperture priority works as well as any.

3. Set a slow shutter speed somewhere between 0.5 - 1 second typically works well.

4. Pan the camera horizontally and while it's moving depress the shutter release.

5. That's it!

In a very short space of time you will no doubt have produced some pleasing blurs. Experiment to your hearts desire! If you go into Projects on this site and look for Yellowcraig you'll see the full set in this series, including a vertical blur just for a bit of variety.


There are always "issues" that you discover when doing any exercise. You may well discover that if it's a sunny day getting a slow shutter speed can be quite tricky and you'll need a small aperture on your lens. My shots here were all taken at f32. To help you get a low shutter speed also consider choosing a low iso on your camera, I picked 100 for these shots, this also has the benefit of reducing grain in the image making these ideal pictures to be enlarged.

One last thing. Beware of DUST SPOTS! Normally these are not that obvious, but if you start shooting at f22, f32 etc if spots are on your camera sensor they will appear. In addition if your picture itself is a gentle blur then the spots stand out much more than they would if you were photographing a complex shape like a tree.

A final thought.

If you've a modern house or a contemporary style and you'd like to put some of your art on the wall, this style of picture can work very well.

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