44 : Defocussing

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Intentional Blur

We've worked hard to achieve perfect focus in challenging scenarios such as low light, motion, and shallow depth field. This week it's time to step away from crisp imagery and make photographs that are intentionally out of focus.

In addition to shapes made by sunlight, defocussing creates lovely results when artificial lighting is included in your composition. Streetlights and Christmas lights show up well and create beautiful bokeh.



  • Put your camera in manual mode.

  • Set your lens to a low f/stop.

  • Set your focus mode to "single point" and Servo (not Continuous).

  • Aim the camera at a point that is far away from your subject. For example, if your subject is in the distance, aim the camera at the ground near you.

  • Press and hold the shutter button halfway to focus on the ground. Keep holding it.

  • With your finger still holding the shutter halfway down, reposition the camera to capture your subject.

  • Press the shutter.

Since you were purposely not focussing on your subject, it should be extremely blurry!


It feels counter-intuitive, but through this exercise, you will be forced to see your subjects abstractly. The result is often a pleasing mixture of colorful shapes with a nostalgic and sentimental flavor.


Creative Prompts

  • This exercise is tricky so make your first few attempts in good natural light. Get the hang of your camera settings and how to control your shutter before attempting this technique in low light situations.

  • You may need to move yourself closer or further from your subject to generate enough blur. The further you are, the blurrier it will be.Y

  • If you feel like an extra challenge try freelensing, using a lensbaby, or renting a tilt-shift lens for a few days. These will create distorted, pleasing effects, too!

Share your images!

As always, we look forward to seeing your images in the Facebook group! If you have never posted a picture, it's fine to start any time. The Facebook group is a positive, no-judgement zone. We also hope that reach out for advice or help if you need it!