Several months ago I was on a photo walk and took a picture of a scene from a beach looking out to sea, towards the horizon. The reason I took the picture was to try and capture the distinctive colours that I saw at the time – the colour of the sand, aqua of the sea and the darkening sky. They were such a contrast and very vivid at the time.

When I started processing the images, the scene that had been so amazing in person looked very bland and ordinary. I didn’t really no what to do with it but I wanted to try and make something of it, rather than move on and forget about it. My goal was to capture the essence and emotion of what I had seen there and what had inspired me to take the picture in the first place.

Palm Jumeirah

I tried several ideas over the next days, with one of them achieving what I had in time. The technique is really simple (t’s so simple and obvious now but took some experimenting to find!) but it needs the right picture to start with.

I’ve found the technique works well on images with a strong horizon or linear feature. It can be used on other scenes but I don’t think it works so well. So, what is this super simple technique?  I make the image look as awesome as I remember the scene being – colours, light dark and so on. then in Photoshop I apply a motion blur with the distance set as high as it’ll go (2000 pixels) and see what it looks like. Sometimes I’ll undo and remove some elements from the scene, until I get it looking the way I want. If it isn’t blurred enough, I’ll apply the motion blur again, to smear the colour and details as much as it needs.

Jupiter and Venus

At this point I’ll either finish up any maybe cropping or making some minor adjustments or add some final effects. Any further final effects are normally limited to adding some static elements back in, as in the image above, or applying a painterly type filter. the one that works best for me is the palette knife in Photoshop.

I’ve applied this technique to a number of scene from different locations, taken at different times. Try it for yourself and see what you think.

See more of these pictures in my gallery