The first challenge that I wrote for this group was, “Freeze Motion”. In that challenge, we used a very fast shutter speed to freeze a moving object. In this week’s challenge, we’ll do the exact opposite: Use a slow shutter speed to blur a moving object.
Most of the time, our pictures tend to freeze time in the exact instant the photo was taken. This tends to stop all movement, resulting in a more static, motionless image. However, if we intentionally slow down the shutter, then moving objects will tend to blur, and your photo will better convey a sense of motion. As always, let’s dive into some examples:
This shot was taken in a busy crowd of people. Because the photographer used a slow shutter speed (perhaps a second or two?), the people who are moving appear as ghost-like blurs, while the people who were standing still appear quite sharp. I really like this effect, as it nicely conveys the busy, chaotic feel of the room. I particularly like the contrast between the people moving and those standing still.
This technique is one of the simplest ways to create motion blur: Keep the camera steady, ideally on a tripod, and let the subject(s) move around in the frame. Let’s investigate some other options:
In this shot, rather than keeping the camera still and letting the subjects move, we do the opposite: We move the camera through a stationary background. In this shot, I simply held the camera (safely) out the window, while someone else was driving. While we weren’t moving particularly fast, the slower shutter speed (1/13 second in this case) gives a very strong sense of motion. This photo wouldn’t have nearly the same impact if it were a “normal” shot of a car driving down the road; the motion blur is what makes it interesting.
In the first example with the crowd of people, we had a moving subject and a stationary camera. In the second example with the car, we had a stationary subject shot by a moving camera. In this third example, we have movement in both the subject and the camera. In particular, the camera followed the movement of the bicycle as closely as possible. Doing so keeps the bicycle in reasonably crisp focus, but blurs the background. This is a great effect, as it keeps your subject in focus while still conveying the sense of motion.
Of course, you can get very creative with motion blurring. In the shot above, both the camera and the subject were stationary. However, the photographer changed the lens’s zoom ring while taking the picture. Doing so made the lights appear to move inward (or outward?), giving the image a great sense of motion, creating a wonderfully interesting effect. Had this simply been a picture of some lights, it might not have made for a terribly exciting photo. However, the added element of motion makes for a very interesting, memorable image.
Star Trails are one of my favorite types of photos. The idea is simple: You keep the camera still, and watch as the stars slowly rotate above you. (Of course, the stars are staying still, and the Earth is rotating beneath them, but you get the point.) The effect can be absolutely breathtaking, as with the sample above.
Note that Star Trail photos are often done using multiple, shorter shots blended together, rather than a single, long exposure. However, the overall effect is the same: The long (overall) exposure makes the stars appear to move across the sky. Again, the motion makes the photo much more interesting then if the stars had simply appeared as stationary dots.
For this week’s challenge, I want everybody to take a picture that includes some sort of motion blur. In particular, use a slow enough shutter speed so as to blur any movement in the photo. How you create the motion is completely up to you: Keep the camera still and move the subject; move the camera and keep the subject still; move both; or adjust the zoom and/or focus of the camera to get a zooming effect.
Creative, out-of-the-box ideas are always allowed and encouraged. Get your camera, be creative, and have fun!
Tips and Suggestions
For this challenge, you’ll need to control your shutter speed: A slower (longer) shutter speed will blur the movement more, and a faster (shorter) speed will reduce the motion blur. You’ll likely want to experiment to find the right balance. To help with this adjustment, you may want to use Shutter Priority mode (“S” on Nikon, “Tv” on Canon) so you can easily adjust the timing.
If you’re keeping the camera stationary and letting your subject move (which is the easiest approach), then you’ll likely want to use a stable tripod. Doing so will give you the best results.
As always, you should feel free to ask the group if you’d like suggestions or assistance– we’re all here to help.
The friendly community guidelines are pretty simple:
- Post one original photograph (Your Image) shot each week per theme posted on this blog to our active community on our Facebook Group, Flickr Group or 500PX group (or all three). Tag the photo: #10thanniversaryphotochallenge #2018photochallenge #photochallenge #tempusaura
- The shot should be a new shot you took this week, for the current weekly theme, not something from your back catalog or someone else’s image.
- Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2018 Trevor Carpenter Photo Challenge is fun and easy.
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