Archive for Sunday, October 31, 2004

Capturing sense of motion requires slow shutter speed

October 31, 2004

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Photographer: Mike Yoder

Camera: D1H

To capture a sense of motion in this image, the photographer again
used a slow shutter speed. But instead of focusing on a stationary
subject, he panned, or moved his camera with the forklift. The
subject remains clear and identifiable against a background of
blurred objects.

To capture a sense of motion in this image, the photographer again used a slow shutter speed. But instead of focusing on a stationary subject, he panned, or moved his camera with the forklift. The subject remains clear and identifiable against a background of blurred objects.

Lens: approximately 28mm

ISO: 800

Shutter: 1/10 second

Aperture: f6.3

One great thing about using digital cameras is the ability to experiment and try different techniques without wasting film. If something doesn't work, you can just delete the file and try again.

On a recent assignment, photographing a worker at the city recycling center, I had covered the employee doing numerous tasks and had photographs that depicted what was required for the story. When the worker began driving a forklift around the center, I decided to try to capture the sense of movement in his job. It was an opportunity to practice a technique that I seldom use.

There are two methods you can use to capture motion in a still image.

To capture a sense of motion in this image, the photographer used a
slow shutter speed and focused on a stationary subject, in this
case the pile of cardboard in the background. By exposing the
photograph as the forklift driver passed through the frame, the
moving foreground subject was blurred, signifying motion.

To capture a sense of motion in this image, the photographer used a slow shutter speed and focused on a stationary subject, in this case the pile of cardboard in the background. By exposing the photograph as the forklift driver passed through the frame, the moving foreground subject was blurred, signifying motion.

With one method, you focus your camera on a stationary subject, adjust your exposure for a long shutter speed and photograph the image while a second moving subject passes through the frame. In the photo at right, I had selected the bales of cardboard in the background as my subject and took the photograph as the forklift drove into the frame. A slow shutter speed of a tenth of a second blurred the forklift and created a sense of movement. But in this scene you lose the real subject of the photograph.

The second method of capturing motion is to focus your camera on the moving subject and, with the slow shutter speed, make your exposures as you pan with the moving subject. In the first photo above, I focused on the forklift driver and panned with the forklift as it passed in a parallel line in front of me. This method enabled me to retain a clean, still image of the driver while blurring the background and creating the sense of motion.

It's easier to get better results with the second method if you shoot multiple frames in a row as you pan with the subject. It's also helpful to have a subject that moves in a straight line across your field of view so you can more easily keep the subject in the frame as you pan with your camera.

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