All photographs capture a small slice of life, but it is motion photography that immortalizes it. It adds hues of mystery because the viewer has no chance of finding what happens before or after the precious moment captured. Motion adds wonder to an image because there are lots of insights that need to be perceived.
For example, an image of a dog running, or a train moving on the tracks, or leaves blowing with the wind all carry a sensational beauty. Each of these has something that can make your image come alive if you know how to convey motion properly.
There are many reasons why people are captivated by motion capturing.
But, there are other more intriguing reasons for experts who feel attracted to motion. They feel that movement communicates mood.
They want to duplicate the serenity or the fast pace of these movements; that is why they capture it forever on their lens.
The trees rustling, the wind blowing, the throngs of people, the chase of a tiger all fascinated them and compelled them to captivate it in their photographs that capture motion which they’d like to duplicate.
Today, in this article, we will show you around the world of motion and how to capture it perfectly. From tips to using different shutter speeds to panning, we will teach you all. Each potential issue you might come across will be resolved.
Eliminating distracting elements
Motion photography is not all about capturing the subject’s movements, but it also makes them look appealing. This has to be done by eliminating the elements in the background that might that distract the viewer.
So if you are capturing a moving person on a sidewalk while the cars move behind him and want to focus on the individual, you will have to blur the cars. This is necessary if you want your primary subject to stand out.
By blurring the potential distractions, you can have the viewer focus on what you want them to see. It is all about diverting the attention where you need it.
Remember, there are many ways to do it, but the goal of each is different, so your choice depends upon your objective of photography.
You can accomplish the goal by blurring just certain elements while retaining sharpness on more than one subject in the foreground. Or you can blur everything or freeze. It is up to your discretion!
One of the techniques described above to blur is to freeze the entire field of vision. Freezing the entire scene is done to provide the photograph with an entirely different and unique look. It is specifically very beneficial if the subject strongly implies movement.
If you are trying to capture a bird flying in front of a waterfall, you can use freezing to imply both motions to the viewer. Freezing here will help you capture the beauty of the entire scene in a single moment, which will result in a breathtaking image.
Other techniques described above are to blur everything. This will produce excellent results if the scene has bright and contrasting colors of varying shades. Mostly shooting like this results in a very artistic capturing of motion.
Determining Proper Shutter Speed
One of the most vital areas to grasp to succeed in motion capturing is understanding the value of shutter speeds. Many novice photographers usually fail at this because they are unable to determine the proper shutter speed.
This is because they fail to see that every situation is unique and requires a change in shutter speed. One speed cannot suit all scenes, so motion photography requires mastery in identifying which shutter speed will work best for a certain subject.
To identify this, one needs to find answers to a few questions: They need to know how fast their subject moves are moving and the distance between their camera and the subject. They also need to set the motion they want their photograph to convey.
They then decide the shutter speed that will meet the answers to the above questions and compliment them.
Remember, the faster the shutter speed is, it will lead to a more frozen and defined subject, but that doesn’t every scene. So experiment with varying shutter speeds so that you can become pro at identifying which speed would work well in particular situations.
Mastering action photography might be tricky and needs a lot of practice. For a much better understanding, please watch this video by Run N Gun – ”5 Tips for Capturing Better ACTION Shots” :
Changing shutter speeds has its problems. When slowing speed to blur elements, you might come across excessive light, which can ruin your photograph. This is a common problem, and a problem always has solutions.
So to resolve it, you have to check the aperture on the camera. If it is large, there are more chances of excessive light entering. Thus try to reduce its size. Secondly, you can review the setting of ISO on your camera. If it is set high, then the camera’s image sensor may become overly sensitive to light and create unwanted distractions in your image.
So you will have to balance the setting, and this will require practice. You’ll have to spend time learning which settings and shutter speed will negatively impact your picture’s quality and then try to avoid it. Only practice will help you master that.
Now we will give you four of our top-secret tips that will help you succeed in the world of motion photography. These tips will guarantee you a top-notch spot in the nest motion image category. Here they are:
1. Panning a subject in motion
2. Utilizing long exposures for effects
3. Deciding on an action plan
4. Zooming during the exposure
Let us have an in-depth look at the working of the above tips so that you can easily apply them practically:
Panning a subject in motion
Panning is essential to photograph moving subjects because it allows you to capture the subject relatively sharp and helps you blur the rest. It instills a sense of speed and works particularly well to hide a distracting or unattractive background.
The work behind panning is to select a slow shutter speed and position the camera to follow the subject. Use this method to set your camera for panning. Remember, follow-through is the key, and give it a try. Just point the camera towards the imminent subject, begin shooting and follow them when they begin moving away from your field of view.
Follow their motion even when they stop shooting. This will take a lot of time and effort as this skill develops gradually. There would be a lot of trial and error, but the result would be worthwhile. You will be able to create stunning and creative photos.
You can also try comparing panning with fast shutter speed, freezing the motion, and seeing better results because panning might not suit every subject. It is a good technique, but you should know when to use it well, so add it to your bag of tricks and use it well!
Utilizing long exposures for effects
Long exposures require a much slower shutter speed, and you would usually not be able to hold the camera with your hands. It is important to capture motions like moving water, spontaneous car headlights in the scene, star trails, and usually movement in night photography.
Generally, you would require a sturdy tripod along with a remote trigger. It also requires a lot of time because one has to wait a lot sometimes for long exposures like star trails, and it also requires time to shoot and adjust.
Mostly it is trial and error, so you might have to conduct numerous sessions or by using digital photography innovation of instant feedback, have the huge benefit of correcting and adjusting spontaneously in the field, and continue shooting.
Deciding on an action plan
These are the techniques that help you play with long exposures. This can be a challenging task, but try it out as it can produce wonderful results.
It is an art to find moving subjects and blur them on purpose by zooming with an action plan because it produces an interesting abstract. The tip is that not every photo looks good if it is tack sharp. Even images with nothing in focus can become great pieces of art because every scene has a different action plan.
Sometimes technical things like sharpness and focus do not do well, and it better to experiment out of focus for some time.
So standardized action plans don’t work in motion photography. You have to add or subtract a few features when shooting a different subject and sometimes even shoot completely out of focus on purpose to create something brilliant.
Zooming during the exposure
Last but not least, motion can be enhanced by just zooming your lens during the exposure. This means that you physically rotate the zoom lens, which changes the focal length of the long exposure. You do this to produce some elegant effects, especially when working on night scenes with lights or capturing a neon subject or fireworks.
It can even be used during the day even though it might not work that well and result in abstract images that have an obscured subject, but the whole idea is to experiment and find new creative ways.
Motion photography is like playing a game. You cannot use one tactic. There are many features to it, and for each scene, you have to combine these features in the right amounts as per the condition and scene requirements to come up with a successful recipe.
The combination should depend not only on the subject but also on your shooting intention as a photographer and your skills as an artist. You might decide to add blur, which will make it more interesting and show implied movement, or you can take help to add speed, which adds an action feel.
If your subject is related to sports, you can benefit from using a fast shutter speed and fast lens, which helps to freeze motion at the peak, or you can choose to use a slower shutter speed to add intentional motion blur, introduces a sense of speed. This shows that are many options to explore, there is no one right way, and you can experiment your way to the top.
So begin the adventures to capture motion and share some of your great moments for us to appreciate in the comments below. It’s okay if you are unsuccessful in the first few attempts because it takes time and practice. So don’t get disheartened and keep experimenting and have fun while being creative!
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11 thoughts on “Motion Photography”
Oh my gosh what great information! I do have a fairly nice camera, and when I bought it a photographer friend of mine would help me with the settings. Well I have moved out of state and do not have her to help anymore. I have been left clueless! Your site might just be able to help me. Thanks for the great information.
Always happy to help, please feel free to ask if you need further advice
Wow, I had no idea that utilizing long exposures could take so much effort! This clears up a lot for me. Zooming during exposure is also very cool.
do you recommend any specific cameras or equipment for some of these things?
I was using Cannon, Nikon and Sony over the years. I choose Sony in the end, it stands up (in my opinion) over anything else I have ever tried.
I would recommend professional cameras, but the hobby ones, like APC-S sensor are doing the job.
Now it depends on your expectations and your budget.
It’s really amazing the different ways you can capture motion. I’ve taken a subject, like my daughter running during a track race, and I’ve tried various methods to capture the motion. I’ve used different shudder speeds, tried moving with her, and wow, the pictures look completely different, but all amazing in their own way.
I’ve been a photography nut for my whole life. Back in the day I used to do wedding photography. That was fun, but I liked the sports events photography better, which I got into once my kids started playing various sports. It does test your skills, though, to be able to capture those moments without everything being a big blur.
Thank you for all the tips. I can always use a refresher for sure. Great website, by the way!
Thanks Babsie, I am very glad you like my site… I am doing my best, but I am only human – not perfect :))
I have bookmarked your website as I have a rebel with the lens it came with and a 55-250 mm zoom lens. I really want to get into understanding how to use each feature instead of just using the automatic setting. I love taking pictures but I’d like to enhance them and get the best quality for the camera I have and in each scenario like you stated. I’m sure I will be referencing back here often. Thank you.
Thanks Amanda, please ask anytime if you need further advice… I am here to help
This is an amazing information. You sites explain very well about the function of the camera rather than setting it in auto mode. I’m always curious how my friend able to capture the great picture while I couldn’t. After reading the post of yours, really helps me a lot. I will mark your sites in my bookmark. Keep it up. Cheers!
Cheers mate, happy to help
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