Motion Blur and Black & White Technique

I’ve shared some of my motion blur photographs before. However I don’t believe I’ve done so combined with a black and white conversion. It can result in a very appealing image. At least I think it has merit. I’m going to abandon my usual approach of sharing an image or images at the end of the text and drop the image in below this paragraph. Below the photo I’ll explain how I created the finished photograph.

Pine trees of the Croatan National Forest shot using intentional camera motion to create an abstract effect.

First, the capture. I chose a section of the forest that I thought make a good subject. Hand-holding the camera I slowly start moving the camera in a downward motion. After starting the motion I trip the shutter. When doing this type of photography I’ll shoot several frames, experimenting with motion speed and direction. For trees I find either a top to bottom or bottom to top, a vertical motion, works best. A side to side motion may work for some subjects but I’ve yet to make an image I liked of a stand of trees using a sideways motion with the camera. I hand-hold the camera because a perfectly straight line up and down motion wouldn’t achieve my desired effect. By holding instead of mounting the camera I introduce a bit of side to side motion. I’m simply not going to be able to move my hands and arms in a perfectly straight line.

Now a bit about post processing. I upload the image using Lightroom Classic. I then choose a frame I like and open it in Bridge. You may prefer to use Lightroom but Bridge has been a part of my work flow for many years. I guess it’s hard to teach an old dog a new trick! In Adobe Camera Raw I will make all the adjustments I’d normally make and I’ll treat it as if I was going to create a color finished photo. It is also in ACR where I’ll usually crop the image, straighten the horizon, etc. Once satisfied I’ll open the file in Photoshop.

Once I get the image into Photoshop I may use the Detail Extractor filter in the Color Efx Pro in the Nik Collection to increase fine detail in the image. I can always dump that layer if I don’t like the result but I’d guess nine out of ten times I do like. Next I flatten the image then go to the Silver Efx filter, also part of the Nik collection. I’ll look through the various recipes and choose one that I feel best fits the image, my vision and my style. Depending on the image I may then go back into Color Efx Pro, this time choosing the Darken/Lighten Center filter. I prefer this to a more standard vignette application. Finally, I’ll usually go into the filters panel in the ProPanel plug in and apply the Lux filter. Basically “Lux” makes a curves adjustment to the image providing a bit more “pop.”

That’s pretty much a look at my workflow. I use a lot of automation, filters and plugins if you will, to speed the process. Yes I could get same or similar finished product doing it manually. But honestly I’d rather spend more time behind the camera and less time in front of the computer. In case you were wondering, I am not a paid endorser for Adobe, DXO/Nik or ProPanel.

As always I’d love to hear what you think. Did you find this article useful? Comments are always appreciated.

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This entry was posted in Education, General Photography, Landscape Photography, Nature Photography, Photo Tip.


  1. jim hughes February 24, 2022 at 9:52 am #

    A feeling of motion in a photo really seems to work when it reinforces the real lines and shapes, as in this one. Trees and grass grow upward and reach for the sun. A photo that makes us want to look ‘up’ seems to elevate our mood as well.

  2. Steve Heap February 24, 2022 at 11:05 am #

    Great article – I have used similar treatments as well in the past – they can certainly make a complex scene much more accessible and interesting for the viewer.

  3. Louis Dallara February 24, 2022 at 6:00 pm #

    Great post, nicely do motion blur.

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