Playing With Pixels
Adding Speed, Motion, And Excitement To Photos

Photos © 1999, Rick Sammon, All Rights Reserved

Want to add some pizzazz to your existing photos? One way to accomplish this goal is to create the feeling or impression that a still subject is moving. With Adobe Photoshop, it's relatively easy. Here's how to do it.

Step One. Open your picture in Photoshop. Remember that you can easily change the direction in which your subject is moving by using the Crop and Tilt tools, as I did for the airplane illustration in this article. In this example, I also cropped out some of the dead space around the airplane; cleaned up dust on the pictures using the Clone tool; and boosted the blues by first selecting the sky with the Magic Wand tool and then choosing Adjust > Color Balance and moving the blue slider all the way to the right (maximum).

Step Two. Make a duplicate layer of your photo. Now you have two photos that are exactly the same--one on top of the other.

Step Three. Go to Blur and apply a Motion Blur to your top layer, which blurs the entire scene. In Photoshop, you can adjust the degree and angle of the blur. For the airplane image, I chose a medium speed blur; I angled the blur from the bottom left corner to the top right corner of the picture--the direction in which the plane appears to be flying.

Step Four. Choose the Eraser tool and erase the blur in all the areas of the photos where a natural speed blur would not occur, that is, in front of the subject. This leaves the blur where it naturally would occur--behind the subject.

Step Five. Go to Layers and then to Flatten Image. You now have one layer. You're done!

In the case of the jaguar (photographed in captivity in Belize, Central America...hey you gotta be honest here, you know), I used the same basic technique: I applied just a slight blur to the left side of the animal's head to create the effect that he is turning to his right.

The frame around my Photo-shopped jaguar image was created by using a program called PhotoEdges by Auto-FX Corporation. Artistic frames like this can add even more interest to your photographs.

See how easy it is to have fun in the digital darkroom.

Rick's Photo/Digital Tools

Canon EOS 1N
Canon 70-200mm lens
Kodak Elite Chrome 100 and 200
Adobe Photoshop 5.5
PhotoEdges by Auto-FX Corporation
Apple Power Macintosh 6500/225
Radius PrecisionColor Display 17" monitor
Polaroid SprintScan 35 Plus film scanner
Iomega Zip drive and cartridges
Epson Stylus Photo EX printer