Response to the Blur-Haters « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Response to the Blur-Haters

This base image for this creation was made with the tripod-mounted Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens and the Canon EOS-1D X. ISO 500. Evaluative metering +1 2/3 stops off the grey water: 1/8 sec. at f/6.3 in Manual mode.

Central sensor (Surround)/AI Servo Rear Focus AF on the bird and re-compose. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Response to the Blur-Haters 🙂

In the “Keep One or Both?” blog post here, I asked, “Would you keep one or both of these images? Or would you delete both? Be sure to let us know why.

Which of the images is a stronger photograph? Please explain why. Note: I have a very strong preference for one over the other. Which of the two has the most potential? What is the single biggest problem with the 2nd image?”

My Answers

I kept both. I really loved the blurred grasses in the 2nd image and needed the first image as source material. I painted a Quick Mask of the bill from the vertical image, brought it into the horizontal image, re-positioned and sized it with the Transform Tool, added a Layer Mask, and fine-tuned the bill layer. But the neck of the Great Egret was too fat, a result of moving the lens while creating the image. So I put the whole image on a new layer, moved it down and left, added another Layer Mask, and thinned the neck by painting in the grasses. The resulting image is above.

For me the 2nd image, the horizontal was by far the stronger of the two for the look of the blurred grasses. I would have deleted the first one had I not needed it as source material for the bill as the head was simply too weird for me. The horizontal had the most potential. The biggest problem for me with the second image was that the bill was lost in the background.

If blurs are to succeed they almost always need a head that is at least somewhat well delineated….


To create the final image I used techniques from both APTATS I and APTATS II. APTATS I details advanced Quick Masking Techniques and it was while editing APTATS II that I came to fully understand Layers and Layer Masks.

Save $10

You can save $10 by ordering the APTATS I/APTATS II combo here.

The Blur-Haters

When I posted the two images I had hoped that folks might have put their thinking caps on. Few did. Some folks like Harvey Tabin who commented “Your work is generally great, however throw both the blurs away. They say nothing and are not very done,” seemed to be unduly harsh in their comments…. The same could be said of John Armitage’s comment: “Delete both. These blurs have resulted in images of the bird which are not attractive.” Furthermore most folks whose comments were strongly negative did not bother explaining why they did not like this or that image, and most did not even attempt to answer the questions.

Others like Richard Wozniak came off as being some type of God; he wrote, “Both are just grossly distorted blurs which tell us nothing and are not even pleasing on an abstract level.” Though I do not agree with what David Policansky wrote, he at least justified his opinion.

I asked questions of some folks who commented negatively; none bothered to respond. Ralph in Chicago was at least on the right track and posted a well-reasoned comment. Though I disagree with Tom Roper’s preference for the first image his response was also well thought out.

The Big Question

It would be interesting to hear what folks think of the final image above. I rather like it.

I have lots of cattail blurs that I love. When I saw an egret standing in front of the reeds the challenge was to put the two together and come up with something pleasing….

Salem, Connecticut Seminar This Coming Weekend!


Shooters Gallery Photography Program

October 20, 2013. Salem, CT

Click here to register.

Artie Morris & Denise Ippolito
Date: Sunday – October 20, 2013: Time: 9:00am – 4:00pm
Location: Salem Gardner Lake Firehouse Hall, 429 Old Colchester Road, Salem, CT 06420
Admission Fee: The Artie Morris presentation from 9:00am until 10:45am is free and open to the public courtesy of Canon U.S.A. The presentation by Artie and Denise from 11:00am until 4:00pm is $40.00 (Lunch & morning coffee included)
Host Organization: Shooters Gallery Photography Group

9:00 to 10:45 – “Choosing and Using Lenses for Nature Photography… BIRDS AS ART Style” – Artie Morris (Sponsored by Canon U.S.A.)
10:45 TO 11:00: Break
11:00 to 12:00 – “Blooming Ideas” – Denise Ippolito
12:00 to 1:00 – Lunch
1:00 to 2:00 – “Refining Your Photographic Vision” – Artie Morris and Denise Ippolito
2:00 to 2:30 – “Pro Gear Handling Tips” – Artie Morris and Denise Ippolito
2:30 to 2:45 – Break
2:45 to 4:00 – “Creating Pleasing Blurs” – Artie Morris and Denise Ippolito

Click here to register.

BIRDS AS ART 2nd International Bird Photography Competition

Learn more and enter the BIRDS AS ART 2nd International Bird Photography Competition here. Twenty-five great prizes including the $1000 Grand Prize and intense competition. Bring your best.


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20 comments to Response to the Blur-Haters

  • avatar David Policansky

    Hi, Artie. I like this image, I think because the bird’s head and the top of its neck–maybe that’s only its head–are parallel to the grasses.

  • Hi Art,
    I like the image you have created here.
    The background looks very nice and the re-worked bird looks better that the originals.
    My experience of blurs has mostly been mistakes that I make in the field due to bad judgement of camera settings etc. So these usually end up getting deleted. A few night ago I came across a video on you-tube of you and Denise presenting a slide show all about Creative Blurs. Wow, some amazing images there, and that has got me thinking how I might be able to create my own images of birds that I might normally overlook (either because I might already have lots of shots or because I might take them for granted). Many thanks to both you and Denise for sharing your knowledge.

  • The main reason I love this blur is the head/beak. Because its
    deformed (the best word I can think of instead of my rolling pin
    description from the last blog, lol) it blends in well with the
    rest of the grasses…it’s even almost slanted enough to be going
    in the same direction of the grass.


  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    My reaction to Richard’s remarks had nothing at all to do with his not liking the image. He, just as you have done here, went out of his way to be nasty and in your case, demeaning.

    You are he are the ones who chose to be mean-spirited, and if I recall, this is not the first time that you have chosen to do so.

    That you stoop to name calling (“obnoxious, petty, and infantile) is pathetic. I see you have a UK email address. I guess that your excuse is that you are British. Funny, I have never encountered any nasty Brits before this.

    As I have stated consistently here now and before, I am fine if folks do not like this or that image. I am confused as to why you find that so difficult to understand.

    And if you bothered to read the other comments, you would see that there are several folks who profess to “hate all blurs.”

  • avatar harvey tabin

    Art, I guess I am just not artistic. blurs, not matter how colorful are just not my cup of tea.
    I never really like to look at real abstracts, even those by great artists. I like to understand what I look at I do not understand blurs, they look like mistakes.

    In the end its just personal taste.

  • avatar Ron Jones

    Apparently some miss the “Àrt” part of your blog title. I work on getting good blurs but have not mastered it like you and Denise. As a long time follower I realize you save bits and pieces to repair some of your birds. I have probably thrown away some great textures and backgrounds. This discussion will alert me to consider closely blur before hitting the delete key. Thanks for the tireless effort you put into educating us through your blog.

  • avatar Gary Axten

    Apologies for not replying to your question in the last post. What I meant was I like some sharpness within a blurred image, so perhaps a sharp face. I think the winners in the blur category of the ibpc exemplify this but of course the blur there emphasises the action rather than here where you are creating a more abstract image.

    The new image is an improvement over the previous image with a more natural looking neck and the sharper bill. Still not to my taste but I am regularly told I have boring taste. 😀 Interestingly I do like your blast off blurs which are also abstract though I couldn’t say what I like about them, they’re more in the style of a Pollock which I’m also not a fan of.

    At the end of the day, whether you are a professional photographer or otherwise, I think the most important issue is to create images that please you which clearly you do. More power to your shutter finger!

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    So not really sorry. How can I be misquoting you when I cut and paste what you wrote. Like this:

    “…that is not quite the same as going through 9 or 10 steps in Photoshop to create an image which no longer bears any relation to the original.”

    Again I ask, according to whom? You are playing God and being nasty.

    And BTW, I am loving it. And I love that on my blog I get to decide who gets to visit.

  • avatar Andre Nel

    The problem with blurs is that they are easy to abuse – there is a fine line between poor technique and creative licence. Consequently, I do not encourage the pursuit of blurs until the photographer has mastered the ability to create a sharp, well-exposed photograph. Beyond that, if people like it or not is a question of taste. Just my 2c worth.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Some folks who have not mastered the creation of sharp images, especially with long lenses and TCs, are more than capable of creating pleasing blurs.

  • avatar Carol Ryan

    A for effort, but to me a blurred photo makes me eye panic and scream for the delete button. Perhaps that is the nature
    Of a scientist vs an artist but in my world, it would be hard to justify blurs period; flora, fauna or anything else. isn’t that why
    We spend thousands on tack sharp lenses anyway? None the less, you are a true master and it is worth the blurs to have the
    distinct pleasure of viewing your “real” work!!

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Sorry to have put you through such tough times. As for folks who hate all blurs, all that I can say is that there is no accounting for taste.

      • avatar Carol Ryan

        It’s fun to understand what makes real artists tick and I am honored that such a decorated photographer would
        Bother to care what mere weekend worriors think or like. I f you didn’t post blurs, folks might not know what they like and why!
        No hardship endured and thanks for the enjoyable banter. I have learned volumes from your work.

  • avatar Morris Beattie

    I know that the current vogue is to see that artform of blurry images as a good thing. I think that the underlying issue might be that you either like blurs or you don’t. I am in the second category. No matter how much Photoshop fiddling you do with it, to me it is still an image that fails. Sure, the reeds are an interesting pattern but the bird is blurry, in fact very blurry and I find it unpleasant to look at.

    Sorry, no convert here.

  • Hi Arthur, I love the end result achieved by combining parts of both images for this one splendid blur.

  • Artie,

    I’d love to see the composite but the photo isn’t showing up at all.


    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Tom. I saw the image here but there was something funky going on in the gallery. It should be there now. artie

      • I can see it now, thanks for fixing it. I do like this much better than the first version of the second shot. I think what bothered me the most was the diagonal of the reeds against the egret that had such a large neck and had the feeling of going against the direction of the reeds.