How to Capture Motion in Your Photos

By: Moshe Benaim

The joys of seeing your child in full delight as she glides on the swing… a moment you want to capture forever. But when you check out the picture, instead of a radiant smile, you see a blur of blond on a fuzzy background.

Frustrating, yes.  But you don’t have to be a professional to learn a few tricks and get the photograph you’re aiming for. Here’s a small beginner’s guide to getting perfect pictures in motion.

Shutter Speed
It’s all about the shutter speed. Capturing motion through various approaches happens with shutter speed changes, and depending on which approach you take, you’ll get completely different results.

Your best bet for getting a clear, crisp image even in motion is with a high shutter speed, which can capture a moment to a tiny fraction of a second. This is how you can freeze an image even while it’s in motion. Cameras can capture an image to 1/8000 of a second, or even faster. Try continuous shooting for as many choices as possible, from which you choose after the fact. This type of picture does not give the feel of motion, rather it freezes the frame and gives a clear picture despite motion.

Panning is an interesting technique for capturing a picture in motion and keeping the feel of motion in the picture. This is different from simply using a high shutter speed because the resulting image will give the feel of motion, while a regular picture with a high shutter speed will (hopefully) not. Panning takes some time to learn, so keep practicing until you get the look you’re going for.

The technique basically involves taking pictures at a low shutter speed while following a subject in motion. To get it right, you need to follow the subject with your camera, moving at the same speed. What results is the subject in motion as a crisp, striking image against a blurry background. You can imagine the contrast and the drama this creates for a spectacular image.

In the kid on the swing example, you would follow your daughter with your camera as she goes up, using a slow shutter speed. If you do it right, the resulting image would be a crisp image of your daughter, with a burry background. This type of technique is used to give the sensation of movement in an otherwise still image. It works beautifully for any picture where you specifically want to convey motion, such as someone riding a bike or playing sports. It also works beautifully when lights are in the picture, such as fireworks.

When you’re trying this for the first time, you might notice that the whole picture is blurry; don’t despair, just keep trying. Test out different shutter speeds and make sure you’re following at the right speed and angle. You’ll eventually get the hang of it. If even one part of the photo remains crisp, you’re on the right track. Another note is that with a slower shutter speed, too much light can enter the picture, so you may want to the adjust the aperture to allow in less light and keep the image the way you want it to come out.

Blurring the Whole Picture
This technique is less popular, but can be done for artistic images. To blur the entire picture and create a Monetesque image, follow the panning instructions without focusing on a single subject; rather, using a slow shutter speed, follow the blur in the picture, such as a waterfall or tide crashing.

Blurred Subject, Crisp Background

Finally, there are moments you want to capture with only the subject in motion. This is often a car speeding through the night, but can be any picture where the subject gets caught moving while the background “takes over” as subject and remains distinct. To achieve this, set your shutter speed to a slow one and use a tripod so the camera remains still while the subject is passing.

With these tips, you can create memorable and artistic phots for chol homoed, other family trips and beyond to enhance your personal collection.




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