The Motion Blur Filter in Photoshop can provide the impact of movement to an object in your image. We are going to use the image above of a stationary train in Toronto’s Union Station which has some interesting Spiderman advertising on the side. This image was processed in HDR in order to get the range of shadow to highlights.
There are two ways we can give a look of motion to the above image… with the train in motion and the background stationary, or the reverse.
Lets try the background blurred and give a look as if we were panning with the movement of the train. First we add a duplicate copy to work in (Layer>>>Duplicate Layer). Next step is to select the train only. There are numerous ways of doing this but I use Quick Mask (Click the icon at the bottom of your tools menu panel). A double click on the Quick Mask Icon brings up a small menu which allows you to choose whether your actions will select or mask areas. I choose select, and then work with the Mask tool to draw over the surface of the train. As I work I will see the area I have chosen turn pink. If you choose an area you don’t want included, just change the foreground color from balck to white on the icon above your Quick Mask icon and the brush can be used to remove previously chosen parts.
When you are happy with the chosen area, click the Quick Mask icon to get out of that mode.
Now we use the motion blur filter (Filter>>>Blur>>>Motion Blur). Make sure your angle matches the direction of motion you want and then adjust the distance to to what looks good to you. Click enter, deselect (Select…Deselect) and you can see the resulting image. Hopefully your image will now look as if you panned your camera with the motion of a moving object and have a blurred background.
To give a look as if the camera stayed stationary and recorded a blurred moving object, just follow the same procedure above until just before the Motion Blur Filter. Invert your selection (Select >>> Inverse) and then proceed with the Motion Blur as before. The result should be a stationary background and a blurred object.
Note this could also be done in an adjustment layer if you thought you might want to make future changes. When there is only a little processing involved like this example, I tend to plan on re-doing the processing should I wish to change it.
I used Photoshop CS4 for this but it should work in many earlier versions.
This tutorial is a part of the Photoshop Workflow Series
All Images are Available for Licensing at Singular Video&Pix