Tips to Improve your Photography in 7 Minutes: MOTION

July 24, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Hope these quick motion photo tips help you with your photography when you or your subject are on the move! Feel free to send me an email or comment below with any questions or frustrations that you always seem to come across when exploring the world with your camera. I’ll answer your questions and post my tips in future blog posts.

Photo Tip #1: Motion can be captured with a few different techniques. You can try to freeze motion using a technique called panning. This is done by moving your camera along the same directional path as your subject and snapping the image. The effect will blur the background while hopefully freezing your subject in motion and in focus. It takes some practice to get the hang of it. Here is one of my first panning attempts from a few years ago!

1/30 of a second exposure at f/25 at ISO 200
(…and I’ve learned since this photo to speed up the exposure time and drop the aperture)


Photo Tip #2: Learn how to use the Shutter Priority Mode on your camera! The Shutter Priority Mode is a mode that allows you to set your shutter speed and then the camera chooses other settings to ensure the shot is well exposed. It’s a very handy mode to play with as it ensures you get the movement effect that you are after but also generally well exposed shots.

1/800 of a second exposure at f/13 at ISO 200


Photo Tip #3: When composing an action picture, leave some room for the action. For instance, if a subject is moving from left to right as shown below, leave more room on the right side of the frame for the subject to run into. This will make a big difference on the impact of the image.

1/320 of a second exposure at f/16 at ISO 200

Photo Tip #4: Secure the camera! Trying to capture motion normally means slowing down the shutter speed so you need the camera to be stable (even when panning sometimes). So use a tripod with longer shutter speeds or place your camera on some other still object (a table, wall, trash can, or your purse or backpack). Also consider using the self timer or a shutter release button or cord.

1/320 of a second exposure at f/6.3 at ISO 200 with the camera on the pavement.

Photo Tip #5: The shutter speed that you use while photographing a scene plays a key role in capturing motion in your image. The faster you set your shutter speed, the sharper the focus on your subject will be. On the other hand, a slower shutter speed will blur a moving object. A shutter speed slower than 1/160 of a second probably will require the use of a tripod.

1/320 of a second exposure at f/16 at ISO 200

Photo Tip #6: Freezing the entire scene captures that motion in a single moment, such as a moment in sports history, and can produce an awesome image. More than likely, you should use a shutter speed of at least 1/1000th of a second to capture the shot and freeze that any type of sports or fast pace action.

1/1000 of a second exposure at f/8 at ISO 200

Photo Tip #7: If you want to use a long shutter speed and have a lot of light, then more than likely your images will become a white overexposed mess.  Here are a few tricks to compensate for long shutter speeds when there is too much light.  First, ensure that your ISO is low, around 200. If your image is still too bright, try using a smaller aperture (smaller f number) to cut down on the amount of light entering the camera. This may require you to shift form Shutter Priority to Manual mode. Last, you might need to invest in a Neutral Density Filter which is a similar to putting sunglasses on your camera lens.  More on using a Neutral Density filter in the coming weeks!
2 second exposure at f/9 at ISO 200 with a neutral density filter


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