The Easy Guide To Creating Motion Blur

Life can be a bit of a blur sometimes, I know mine is.

This Tutorial is written for people like me. We know a few basic things about Photoshop, but we are not geeks or techheads or digital artist apprentices. We don’t know the lingo too well, and Texturing and Layering are still over the horizon.

How do you create Motion Blur? This is what I am talking about:

Before I explain the very simple, quick, and easy way the blur was achieved, which, by the way, was done in a single procedure using Photoshop Elements 6 [this is basic stuff], I want to make it clear that there are several means of achieving blur in-camera. One is to use a tripod and take 2 shots – one in focus and one blurred – then merge the two together in Photoshop or Photostitch [free] or whatever. Another is to use a tripod and a pano head and take several shots along the slide. Another is to do it handheld. Each process has varying degrees of difficulty and of course different results. All this tutorial seeks to do is show you the one click method. How easy is that?

Here is how you do it:

First, select your image. For demonstration purposes let’s use an example of an image not to use. You’ll see why in the result of applying the process.

I chose the image because of the colour variations. It’s an image I took at Hat Head one dawn and is one I call Close, but no bananas. Now we open the image in Photoshop. I used Photoshop Elements, but Photoshop CS2 – CS5 will also have the necessaries. Looking at the top horizontal toolbar, select Filter then Blur from the drop-down menu then Motion Blur from the second drop-down menu.

A new window should open AND your image should now be blurred according to whatever default setting you have. How does it look? Run the bar right up to 999 [whatever that means!].

Here’s the result using my demo image:

Crap, isn’t it? Sooo, maybe a horizontal image may be better. Also, that black blob of headland doesn’t really blur well, does it?

OK, next image. This one was shot at the same spot. It’s horizontal and has no land masses in the way. It’s another Close but no bananas image:

And here’s the result of the Motion Blur at 999:

Now we’re getting close. Notice I have also cropped it. But still, it lacks that, um, ooomph. It’s a bit bland, not enough colour or colour range. Jeez, this is getting hard!

OK, next image. This one was shot just before dawn at North Narrabeen Rockpool on Sydney’s northern beaches and cropped to centre the horizon.

Here’s the result of Motion Blur at 999:

Yep, happy with that! I think I like this one!

So, the process is DEAD easy. It’s all about the choice of image to use.




  • Originally published 24 November 2009 on
  • Republished 12 December 2010 on Peter Hill’s Weblog
This entry was posted in motion blur, photography, photography tutorial, tutorial and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to The Easy Guide To Creating Motion Blur

  1. Hi Peter, great examples on the types of images to use for this technique and I love the final example, so beautiful.

    Just a note though that the blog is really difficult to scroll through because it is constantly re-drawing the background image. But otherwise great blog!

    • Peter Hill says:

      Thanks Anne, I suspected as much. Still configuring the presentation, so for now I’ve removed the background shot. Didn’t much like the tiling effect so no problemo.

  2. nancy says:

    another great lesson taught!
    oh and ditto on the bg..hehehe

  3. Pat Cegan says:

    Love the lesson. BTW, the first shots that you call “crap” I would use in a heartbeat for the background of a poem. Different strokes. But I like all of them, depending on how I want to use it with a poem. Sometimes I use the ones people normally throw away and crop sections that really work for me. Nice to find you with Stumble Upon. Just learning how to use SU and love finding new people. Hugs, pat

  4. I love hw the final picture turned out, I may just have to use this for my digital media project!

  5. Karen says:

    GREAT tutorial and SO much better because of the examples of what works and what doesn’t!

  6. fley says:

    great tutorial!

  7. I do trust all the concepts you have introduced on your post.
    They are really convincing and will certainly work. Nonetheless, the posts are too short for newbies.
    May you please extend them a bit from next time? Thanks for the post.

  8. Trena says:

    Greetings from California! I’m bored to tears at work so I decided to check out your website on my iphone during lunch break. I really like the knowledge you provide here and can’t
    wait to take a look when I get home. I’m amazed at how quick your blog loaded on my phone .. I’m
    not even using WIFI, just 3G .. Anyways, amazing blog!

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