October 27, 2020
If we think about photography, we immediately think about a still image that captures a moment in time. After all this is what photography is all about, capturing a split of a second and immortalize that moment! But sometimes you need to communicate motion. Most photographers do that just to add movement to their images. Others because they need to blur a particular subject so they can focus the attention away from that same subject. But there are also some photographers that communicate movement through a moment freeze in time. What’s common in these three situations, is that they all want to portray a moving object or subject. So let’s get started with capturing motion.
Blur is a great way to add motion to an image, which means we will need to shoot with a slow shutter speed! Common shutter speed can go from 1/60 to 1/250 or higher, but to achieve motion in photography you will need to shoot between 1/30 and 1/20.
There are two primary techniques to achieve this, either if you want to draw your attention to the subject or to the background.
Subject In Focus With Blurred Background
Let’s say that you ask your subject to run and you still want to have him or her in focus. The background instantly will be blurry and out of focus getting all the attention to the subject. To achieve this look you have to track the subject while moving (panning) at the same speed. While panning you should set the shutter to 1/20th to 1/30th of a second. It will make the viewer feel as if they are moving along with the subject.
TIP : To work effectively, you need to choose a background that will look blurry. If you shoot against a wall with a solid color the motion will be less obvious!
Another great tip is to keep the focus in manual unless your camera have a great AF. That way you can micro adjust your panning. Using slow shutter speed there’s a high probability that you’re having too much light that will ruin your photo. Use small apertures to compensate.
Background In Focus With Blurred Subject
Let ́s assume that you want to focus on a particular background and you want to add an human detail without taking the attention away from the background. To do so, you most likely need a tripod, so you can have a still background and in focus. Again, you will have to use a slow shutter speed but do not go under 1/20th, otherwise the person will be so blurry that will look more like a phantom.
TIP : If you don’t have a tripod with you, you can either increase stabilization pushing your elbows to your body and the camera against your face or leaning your camera against a wall.
Apart from these two techniques you can also freeze a moment and still capture movement. To achieve this you will need a subject that implies movement. In this case you have to use bigger shutter speed. The bigger it is, the smallest the blur you’ll have. If you have for example a person running, it will communicate a movement, but try to improve that. A great tip is to have a flowy piece of cloth like a dress or a scarf, even if you don’t have a windy day, you can easily move it around and it will look great on camera. Other thing you can do is to photograph your subject running, and capture the precise moment both of his or her feet are up in the air. The image will look freeze but the act of moving is completely implied.
To capture motion perfectly, just like any other photography skills, you will need to be patient and you need to practice. Time is your everything. Waiting for the perfect moment is crucial. Sometimes you will fail and be disappointed, others you will also fail but luckily you will love the results and finally you will nail it every single time. But most of all try to be creative and have fun! That’s the beauty of it!
André Filipe is Brancoprata’s destination wedding, portrait and editorial film photographer, with a love for spontaneous, forward thinking and enthusiastic couples living everywhere in the world. His film photography is ethereal and evocative, authentic and compelling, and above all unique.
Mastering the art of film photography, André feels honored to be able to capture memorable moments in a couples life.
He is constantly inspire by everyday scenes, fashion photography and music. One of his passions is street photography using his iPhone André has been featured on international blogs and magazines such as Belle Lumière, Martha Stewart Weddings, Style Me Pretty, Magnolia Rouge, Brides , Vogue, Once Wed, just to name a few.
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