Create Motion

How can we successfully marry the concept of blur and motion?
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Depicting movement in a still image has challenged photographers since the advent of photography. After all, we're shooting "stills," not "motions." In order to portray motion, some sort of blurring and movement of the subject needs to occur. If we think of fast moving objects, words like, "It happened so fast it's all a blur," come to mind. Ironically, we're taught that blurry photographs are not good ones. So how can we successfully marry the concept of blur and motion?

SLOW SHUTTER: Use a slow shutter speed to emphasize motion. How fast the motion is dictates what shutter speed is needed. Digital photography has made this easier as you receive immediate feedback whether or not the proper shutter speed was chosen. If too much motion is depicted, choose a higher shutter speed. If there's too little, choose a slower one. Read your camera manual to see how to display as much playback information as possible. Visit this menu to see if there's an option that includes aperture and shutter speed at the time of capture.

STATIONARY/ BLUR COMBO: A very powerful way to portray movement is to integrate action and stillness in the same image. Look for situations where key elements of the composition remain motionless while others show lots of movement. A classic example that comes to mind is a train entering a station. A slow shutter portrays the movement of the train, yet the people waiting for it remain stationary.

DASHBOARD EVENING: Get yourself to a city at dusk. The reason for this specific time is there's a good balance between ambient and artificial light. Rest the camera on your dashboard and point it out the windshield. Drive around with the shutter open. Ideally you'll want a shutter speed of a few seconds. The longer the shutter is open, the more streaks you'll pick up from headlights, taillights, and buildings.

PANNING: Follow the motion of the subject to blur out the background and create a sharp rendering of the subject. The slower the shutter the more the subject's movement is shown. To perform a successful pan, follow the subject before it gets to the predetermined location. Release the shutter and continue to follow the movement using a smooth and fluid action. If you're new to the technique, passing cars make great subjects to gain practice. Pick a location where the speed at which the cars move is consistent and repeatable. Glean the information you get from the shoot and apply it to future ones regarding shutter speed and the speed of your subject.

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