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Motion Blur Photography

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008 by | Filed Under: Digital Photography

Motion Blur Photography

When you see a picture that showcases a motion blur in action photography, you may think only professionals can achieve something like that. But you can too! All it takes is some astute shutter speed, aperture value setting and a lot of trial and error. However, there are some simple ways to make your pictures look like a pro’s. Let’s check them out, shall we?!

Stretch Your Shutter Speed

First things first: speed determines motion blur. The faster your shutter speed, the less blur you’ll get and vice versa. Therefore, it’s best to go for an extended shutter speed. In fact, you could even capture motion blur of a snail if you have a really long shutter speed. Of course, you need to set the shutter speed depending on how fast your subject is moving. If it’s moving slow, your shutter speed shouldn’t be too high and the reverse is true if your subject is moving quickly.


Letting more light inside your camera using a longer shutter speed has its demerits. You could end up with an over-exposed picture. Therefore, it’s important to let just enough light in to get a decent picture. The amount of blur you want in your photograph depends on two factors: the speed of your subject and the amount of light falling on your subject. The best way to judge that is to try out different shutter speeds, compare the results and stick to what works the best. Since you have a digital camera, you are able to do that kind of trial and error.


To capture movement, you can do one of two things: either the subject should move or your camera should move. If the subject is moving, you have to keep your camera rock steady. You can do that by keeping it on a stable platform, using a self-timer or placing it on a tripod.

Shutter Priority

Professionals would much rather use a full manual mode to set the shutter speed and aperture value, but if you’re not that high tech, you can work with the Shutter Priority mode on your camera. With that, you only have to choose the shutter speed and the camera will automatically set the aperture value to go with that setting. Not only will you get the blur you’re looking for, but also a balanced shot.

Shutting Out Excess Light

Since longer shutter speeds mean more light creeping into your camera, you have to resort to one of the following ways to sort out the problem of over-exposure. For starters, you could do it while it’s darker. However, if you’re intent on doing it during the day, you need to go for a smaller aperture value. To do that, switch over to the full manual mode and lower the aperture value in proportion to the increase in the shutter speed. It’s a simple calculation. When you bring down the shutter speed, the aperture value also decreases.

Another way to limit the amount of light is to lower the ISO setting. ISO has a direct correlation to the image sensitivity of your camera. A higher number will make it more sensitive to light and a lower number will make the camera sensor less sensitive. Choose a low number and you’ll be able to choose longer shutter speeds.

One more way you can cut down on light is to use a neutral filter. If you don’t have one, you could use sunglasses as well. They do exactly the same thing, which is cut down on the intensity of light falling on the camera lens.

And Finally…

You should also employ the Slow Sync Flash feature. Not only will it facilitate longer shutter speeds with the use of a flash, but it will freeze certain elements in the shot, while keeping the others blurry. Another method like that is panning. If you move the camera along with a moving subject, the subject will remain in focus, but the background will be a blur. Cool, huh?!

I hope you have fun with this one!

~ Zahid H. Javali

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