Motion photography is a great way to capture the atmosphere of a scene. Whether it’s the movement in the clouds you’re photographing or the passing of a race car, these tips will help you set up and execute your motion shot.
1. Be ready
It goes without saying, if you’re trying to capture a split second of action you need to be a few steps ahead. Consider your settings, your location and how you’re going to photograph the subject. Take a few practice shots
2. What kind of motion?
There are two types of motion photography. You can either keep the camera still and blur the subject, or you can move the camera and trace the subject, leaving the subject sharp and focused with a blurred background.
3. Use the shutter speed priority mode
Motion blur is all about shutter speed so flick your camera’s dial to S. For action photography where you’re tracing a subject try a moderate shutter speed of 1/100th of a second. If however you’re photographing the motion within a landscape, such as clouds moving across the sky, a few seconds of open shutter may be required.
4. Use the continuous servo focus mode
Usually denoted by C-AF or AF-C, continuous servo focus will continue to adjust the focus when the shutter button is depressed halfway. On this mode, if you’re photographing an object that’s coming towards you, your camera will continue to adjust it’s focus right up to the moment you take the photo.
5. Start panning before you take the photo
Tracing a moving subject is a difficult technique to get right. A good practice is to start panning and tracing the subject a few seconds before you take the photo. Hold the shutter button half way when you start panning to prepare the focus and snap the photo a few moments later.
6. Use the viewfinder
When held to your face your camera can become an extension of your eyes. Your pan will be deadly accurate when you’re viewing the subject through the viewfinder. It can also be hard to pan smoothly when you’re holding the camera in front of you and looking at the screen. Use the viewfinder to minimise camera shake.
7. Try a monopod
A monopod is a single legged tripod that can provide you with a steady shot and a nice pivot point for tracing a subject. These can be handy when your subject is zooming past you.
8. Mount a camera to the subject
There are special suction cup tripods available that let you mount a camera to cars, windows and plenty of other surfaces. Alternatively, there are camera mounts with claws that allow you to latch onto a bike handle or a table’s edge. If you’re keen on motion photography, investing in equipment will let you capture some truly unique angles.
9. Use an ND filter
Natural Density filters act like dark sunglasses for your camera, reducing the amount of light entering the lens. With a dark ND filter you can use longer shutter speeds in broad daylight and capture motion in even the brightest conditions.
10. Bracket your photos
Bracketing involves taking multiple photos with progressively different settings. With motion photography you’ll want your shutter speeds to become progressively faster or slower. This way you’ll have a broad range of shots to choose from and can pick one where the amount of motion blur is exactly right.
11. Look for motion where it wouldn’t normally be seen
Motion photography isn’t only for sports and landscapes. Motion is everywhere in life. Capture the intricacies of knitting hands or the wag of a dog’s tail. Think outside the square and capture motion in day to day photography.
*I shot the title photograph by mounting a camera to the roof with a suction tripod and snapped via a remote in the car. A shutter speed of 1/30 helped to capture the vibrancy and speed.
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