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Add a creative zoom blur using Gimp - Zoom blur is a striking form of blur that is relatively easy to achieve at the time you take the picture, provided you have the correct equipment. Here Michael Bates shows you how to add the effect later, digitally using the free editing program Gimp.
It used to be easy to create a zoom blur, just take a long exposure and rotate the zoom during the exposure, but with more people using compact digital cameras instead of SLR and DSLR varieties, this is not often possible.
If you want to recreate this effect with a picture taken without a manual zoon lens it is useful to know how to create a zoom blur effect when editing your pictures, and luckily with Gimp it’s easier than ever.
Here we have an image that will look great with a zoom blur applied. The colours in stained glass windows always make for an exciting burst of colour, so they are always a good subject to practise with.
Step 1 Open the image and as usual duplicate the layer and rename the top layer ‘Blur’.
Step 2 In Gimp there is already a preconfigured Zoom Blur tool, however it is hidden in the depths of the blur filters. Open Filters>Blur>Motion Blur, and then in the dialogue box that opens set the options so that the Blur Type is ‘Zoom’ (no surprises there).
The point from which the blur is calculated will automatically be set to the centre of the image, if you want to move it around you’re going to have to try to work out where abouts it is that you want it in terms of pixels or distance.
Set the Length of your blur as far as you want, this is measured in pixels so in higher resolution images you’re going to need higher values to get a noticeable effect.
When you’re happy choose to apply it and wait (this effect takes its time to apply).
Step 3 If you want a spot in the centre of your image that is not blurred, which is always a good way to direct the viewer’s attention, apply a Layer Mask to the blurred layer by right clicking it in the Layers pane and selecting ‘Add Layer Mask’. Use a soft-edged brush to create an opening at the origin of the blur by painting the Layer Mask black here, if you want a perfectly round hole set the brush to the size of the hole you are after and click in the centre.
If the area you want clearing is bigger than the largest brush size, use the Ellipse tool to draw a selection in where you want the clearing and then go into Select>Feather and feather your selection before painting it black.
Right click the layer mask in the Layers Pane and select ‘Apply Layer Mask’ once you are done, and then your image is ready to export.
The result is a creative zoom blur