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How to capture motion blur in photography

How to capture motion blur in photography

Some people consider the best image to be absolutely free of any movement. But if you are not one of those, then you know that one of the main tasks is to capture the dynamic moment. For such a process, special knowledge, patience, experience and unique skills are required. In the image, you can emphasize the speed, and freeze it, using necessary tools correctly. You can learn how to make a picture of a tree or a house in a couple of hours. But if you want to learn how to make a photo that moves, it will take much more theory and training. This is a unique photographing mode, unlike any studio or wedding one.

  1. Panning
  2. Motion blur techniques
  3. Set up your camera
  4. Location check and concentration
  5. Short exposures
  6. Choose right moment
  7. Portrait fails
  8. Long exposure
  9. Zooming
  10. Conclusion

1. Panning

Keep in mind that compensating exposure with aperture is always a good idea

There is a wonderful artistic technique, which permits getting an interesting picture. This technique is called panning. It creates an unusual effect when it seems that background is moving and the main object is still. This secret is simple: during shooting, the camera has to be rotated following each move in focus.

2. Motion blur techniques

Blurring foreground or background is a choice to make, being an artist

There are several basic definitions in the field of shooting items in movement. For example, if you need to blur the background and focus on the object on the foreground, then a specific type of settings should be selected. An excellent example is a man in the background of moving cars along the dark street. The blurring is achieved by exposing camera to a slow shutter speed and coming up towards the subject.

Blurring foreground requires placing the device on a tripod to minimize noise and defocusing. The focus is on the distant point, and the object with a higher speed of motion turns out to be blurred.

Another option is serial photographing, or chronograph. When several images of the same person or item are made and then, combined in 1 picture to obtain a dynamic effect.

3. Set up your camera

Choose your favorable location to capture right moment

Prepare in advance, take a few shots, adjust the device and wait for the right moment. You need to focus on the object, if you know where it is going to be located. Making photographs with dancers or athletes, you can even define the focus area and show where they need to move, to get the best result.

4. Location check and concentration

Do not waste time, checking picture before the work is done

Take a walk to the area, where you will need to work, to understand where is the best vision to set your camera and get more elements in focus. This will save your time afterwards. At the same time, you can also adjust some settings for each location to expose already known and verified values.

Stop checking frames while working, try to make the maximum number of pictures, carefully watching each event through the lens, not to miss something important. After filming, many variants of the same angle will give the opportunity to choose the most successful shot.

5. Short exposures

Be creative and find a new vision of the world

Blurring is not always necessary. That is why you can always try short exposures. A falling drop of water is not perceived by a human’s eye, but captured with such a camera mode, it looks as a very unusual idea. The faster its movement is and the closer it gets to your device, the shorter its shutter speed should be. It does not matter what exactly is moving. However, if you take pictures from a moving car, bus or train, you have to take into account shaking that is transmitted.

Though, blurring is a cool tool for various occasions, it is important not to exaggerate with it. It is good to emphasize things in the crowd, but you may also destroy general composition of an image instead of fixing it. So, think well before starting this long way of practice and experience.

6. Choose right moment

Be patient and wait the moment to capture

Dynamics of movement is composed of many phases. If you set the camera still and take series of pictures, you will get a general picture of what is happening. Keep in mind that sometimes the result may be weird. For example, a person running towards you on a picture may seem to have only one leg and another turns out to be ‘cut off’ at a knee. This means, that the moment was chosen inaccurately.

7. Portrait fails

The choice of moments is not less important in the pictures with gestures of a person. Often, a person can become simply unrecognizable due to the wrong phase of capture, so it is essential to be careful when determining the moment.

The portrait should describe perfectly the inner state, being also spontaneous and dynamic. Head turn, look, facial expression, gesture included in the overall composition should be simple, natural and especially expressive. The creative success is guaranteed by attentive observation and the right choice of each moment.

8. Long exposure

Check your camera settings to make a successful picture with long exposure

This is a common way to play with different landscapes and natural phenomenon, for example like wind blowing flags, fountains, waterfalls, night city road landscapes, theatrical reports, water waves, which are crashing on the seaside, etc. Such a method does not need a complicated set of equipment or tools to begin.

Usually in a second of a snapshot cars manage to pass a couple of meters. The light from the headlights or parking lights leave bright white or red stripes.

It is good to remember that you have to work with pictures in raw format. This trick not only permits you to obtain a better quality and colors working in the evening or at night, but it also helps to choose the white balance during the post-processing.

9. Zooming

Make your zoom work and get abstract forms

Another way to add dynamics to an image is to use zoom. The basis of this technique is that you work rotating lens with long exposure. This works well and gives an interesting effect in night photography with backlighting, shooting neon signs, fireworks and even storms. You can try this effect during a day and see what you can create. This often leads to completely abstract images, sometimes absolutely modifying each object, which is difficult to identify. But it is normal, when you experiment and play with digital technologies.

Focus on the subject, then start zooming and at the same time press a shutter release button. You can use the focus lock: use autofocus, then turn it off.

Here are some practical tips:

  • Practice rotating your zoom ring on a lens. Learn how to turn it, and how to do it smoothly, without making sudden movements.
  • Decrease shutter speed to about one second or longer.
  • Experiment zooming with different speeds (how fast you rotate the lens). Every image will look different if you pause at the beginning, and then zoom in quickly, compared to a slow zoom at the beginning and a pause, ending exposure.

Conclusion

Brave ideas and enthusiasm are key factors for artists

Get your own option of blur photo creation. You can use flash, but be careful to find a right balance between existing light and that one, added by your camera flash. This way you will be able to obtain a great pictures with ‘ghost’ effect.

As you can see, there are many ways and modes to try on your device and understand how to take motion blur photos in color or black and white. Everything you need is a strong will and time to learn on your mistakes. So, have fun and create a new masterpiece.

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