A Beginners Guide to Capturing Motion in Your Photography in Photography
November 14, 2008, 07:05 AM
by Yogi Sujiwo
Photographs, by definition, capture and immortalize a small slice of
life. There is little for the viewer to infer what happens before or
after that moment. However, there are images that need to communicate
motion. For example, you may want to capture a dog running, a train
barreling down the tracks, or trees that are blowing in the wind. Each
of these scenes can come alive within your photographs if you learn how
to convey motion properly. taken from http://digital-photography-school.com/blog/a-beginners-to-capturing-motion-in-your-photography/?awt_l=9OZVu&awt_m=1bSMW_94cLkfGf Image by T.MoE
Today, I’ll describe how you can use different shutter speeds and
panning to capture motion in your photography. I’ll also explain a
potential issue you might experience along with tips to resolve it.
Reasons To Capture Motion
Beginning photographers have likely seen captivating photographs
that capture motion which they’d like to duplicate. There are several
ways to accomplish this and each has a slightly different goal.
Sometimes, there is a need to blur certain elements in the image while
focusing sharply on a few subjects in the foreground. Other times, you
may want to freeze or blur everything. The direction you take depends
upon your objective for your photograph.
A lot of photographers capture motion simply to convey that an
object is moving. But, there are other reasons to so. Movement can
communicate mood. Trees rustling in the wind suggest serenity while
throngs of people on a busy city block imply harried activity.
You can also use motion to eliminate elements in a scene that may
serve as distractions to the viewer. For example, you may want to
photograph a person standing on a sidewalk corner as cars move behind
him. By blurring everything but your primary subject (i.e. the man on
the corner), you can eliminate potential distractions and focus the
Two Primary Techniques For Capturing Motion
The shutter speed that you use while photographing a scene plays a
key role in capturing motion in your image. The faster the shutter
speed, the sharper the focus on your subject. On the other hand, a
slower shutter speed will blur a moving object. There are two main
approaches (we’ll discuss a couple of alternatives in a moment).
1. Blurred Subject With Background In Focus
photo by paulaloe
Let’s assume you’re photographing a speeding train against a wall of
trees in the background. You can blur the train while leaving the trees
in focus. Doing so would instantly communicate to the viewer that the
train is moving quickly. To accomplish this, you would use a slow
shutter speed. (It’s also important to use a tripod. That way, your
camera remains steady.) You’ll often see this technique used in
nighttime photographs with car headlights cutting through the image.
Image by Extra Medium
2. Blurred Background With Subject In Focus
This second technique keeps your photograph’s subject in sharp focus
while the background is blurred. Using our train example, the train
would be in focus and the wall of trees would be blurred, thereby
conveying the train’s movement. Similar to the first method, you need
to use a slow shutter speed. However, instead of using a tripod, you’ll
be panning your camera along the directional path of your subject.
Photo by fabbriciuse
Most beginning photographers are trained to “secure” their cameras.
That is, your camera should remain as still as possible for certain
types of shots. By contrast, panning requires that you move your camera
with your subject. Specifically, you’ll be matching your subject’s rate
of movement and the direction in which it is traveling.
In our train example, assume the man on the bike is moving from east
to west. In that case, you’ll need to pan your camera along the same
direction, matching the speed of the bike. The best results occur when
you have a clear view of the moving object and ample room to swivel
your camera along a parallel axis to it.
Panning effectively can be difficult. You can practice and perfect
your technique by photographing athletes who move quickly (for example,
basketball players). Try to capture their facial expressions while
blurring everything in the background. It will take some time to get it
right, but once you do, the technique can be a valuable addition to
Other Techniques To Capture Motion
Besides the two main techniques described above, you can also freeze
the entire field of vision or blur everything. Freezing the entire
scene can give your photographs a unique look, especially if the
objects strongly imply movement. For example, consider a bird that is
flying in front of a waterfall. Both imply motion to the viewer.
Freezing the entire scene captures that motion in a single moment and
can produce a breathtaking image. You should use a shutter speed of at
least 1/1000th of a second for this type of shot.
Photo by llimllib
Blurring everything produces the best results when the scene offers
bright, contrasting colors or varying shades on the grayscale. In most
cases, capturing motion in this manner is done purely for artistic
Another effective method for capturing motion within your images is ‘chrono photography’.
Photo by monkeyc
Using the continuous shooting feature on your camera, you can
capture a series of shots and join them together in the post processing
stage to create the effect shown above. A tripod is essential when
attempting to shoot motion using this method.
Image by Jolantis
Determine The Proper Shutter Speed
A lot of novice photographers ask what the proper shutter speed is,
given their objective for their photographs. Every situation is unique.
One speed doesn’t suit all circumstances. To identify the right shutter
speed, you’ll need to ask yourself a few questions:
How fast is your subject moving? How much distance exists between the camera and the subject? How much motion do you want your photograph to convey to the viewer?
The faster the shutter speed, the more frozen and crisply-defined
your subject will be. Most cameras today will allow you to freeze a
scene using 1/8000th of a second or faster. That being said, the
numbers only serve as a rough guideline. You’ll need to experiment with
different shutter speeds in a variety of situations.
Potential Issue: Excess Light
When you slow your shutter speed to blur elements in your image,
there’s a chance that too much light will enter and impact your
photograph. It’s a common problem, but there are a couple of ways to
resolve it. First, check the aperture on your camera. The larger it is,
the more likely excess light will enter. Try adjusting the settings to
reduce its size. Second, review the setting of your ISO. When it is set
high, the image sensor in your camera may be overly-sensitive to light.
This can create unwanted noise in your image.
Mastering The Art Of Motion Capture
Like other photography skills, becoming proficient at capturing
motion requires practice and experience. You’ll need to spend time
learning how shutter speeds will impact the quality of your images.
Even if you’re just setting your camera on its tripod, timing a perfect
shot of a fast-moving object can be difficult. In the end, capturing
motion in your photography is part technique and part art. Fortunately,
with practice, you can master it. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Photo by Mr Bones - No exposure settings supplied
The following shots are all of moving subjects where the photographer
has made the choice to set their camera to capture the movement as blur
rather than freezing it. This is in all cases by choosing (or letting
the camera choose) a ’slow’ shutter speed (although by slow you’ll see
that the speeds (noted under each image) vary from anything from 1/30 second to up to 40 minutes).
Photo by Ben McLeod - Shutter Speed - 8 seconds
Photo by zane&inzane - Exposure Time - 10 minutes
Photo by PhotoToasty - Composition of 3 images at shutter speeds of between 1.6 seconds and 25 seconds
Photo by Amnemona - No exposure settings given
Photo by Sara Heinrichs - Exposure Time: 20 seconds
Photo by Mace2000 - 50 second exposure time
Photo by WisDoc - Shutter Speed - 1/30
Photo by Mace2000 - Shutter Speed - 50 seconds
Photo by Wam Mosely - Shutter speed - 4/5 of a second
Photo by Mace2000 - Exposure Time - 43 seconds
Photo by thorinside - Shutter Speed - 13 seconds
Photo by tschnitzlein - No Exposure information given
Photo by markal - No exposure settings given
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