How to Use the Pop & Blur Technique for Portraits

The pop and blur technique is nothing new. Photographers have been using it ever since artificial lights and built-in flashes came into use. It’s basically about popping the flash and then moving the camera or the subject during the exposure to induce motion blur. Whether you want to pop first and then blur or vice versa is up to you:

Front Curtain vs. Rear Curtain Flash Sync

To use this method, you’ll need to have some idea of what front curtain and rear curtain sync techniques are all about.

Front curtain sync means the flash fires right after you press the shutter release and then the ambient exposure is made.

In rear curtain sync, the flash will fire toward the end of the exposure. Both have their advantages and applicability. In this video, photographer Daniel Norton uses both methods and then combines the technique with forced camera movements, as well as asks the subject to move about during the exposure in order to create motion blur.

pop & blur tutorial

Rear curtain and front curtain sync techniques produces interesting images

You’re limited only by your imagination when you use the pop and blur technique. In one shot, Norton asks an assistant to spin a chain light behind the subject’s head:

Using pop & blur for portrait images

Blur effect created by a spinning chain light and the long exposure

Tips to shoot fun portrait in a studio

Another shot from the session using pop & blur technique.

Try out this technique to put a creative, fun spin on your portraits.

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