3 Ways To Show Movement for Better Photos

 
This was one of my earliest photos. I was able to capture the movement of the dancer’s leg while keeping all other movement frozen. This was done with the shutter speed.

This was one of my earliest photos. I was able to capture the movement of the dancer’s leg while keeping all other movement frozen. This was done with the shutter speed.

So much of daily life is about movement. So if you can learn how to show that in your photos, your result will more likely capture people’s minds and hearts.

But how do you control how movement shows up in a photo?

Well, in a previous blog post, I talked about how shutter speed shows movement. In this post I’ll dig in a bit deeper to this idea.

 
I captured my pup, Leila, on a snowy day that had her super excited, and me feeling very cold.

I captured my pup, Leila, on a snowy day that had her super excited, and me feeling very cold.

 

Freezing Movement

When you freeze movement the resulting photo can have the potential to capture candid emotion. You can also give the viewer an energetic feeling that can help take them to the scene.

This is easier to do when there is a lot of available light. If you remember that both the aperture and shutter speed can give you light. With a well-lit scene, you can use your aperture to give you light and use the shutter to show movement.

To freeze movement, you need your shutter speed going pretty fast. If this is your goal, it’s not possible to set your shutter speed too fast. So crank it up and see what happens.

 
Demonstrate movement with slower shutter speeds and give a feeling of what your photo’s subjects are experiencing.

Demonstrate movement with slower shutter speeds and give a feeling of what your photo’s subjects are experiencing.

 

Suggesting Movement

Here you want to show your main subject as standing still, but show moving items in the surrounding scene.

You can do this by setting your shutter speed rather low. See how it works if you set the shutter below 1/30. But don’t go below 1/8 or you may risk the moving item disappearing.

You can do this in order to give a feeling of propulsion to a photo. In the above example, I hope you can tell that the mother and child are feeling the wind of the moving metro train.

Another example of this is the tango dancers at the top of this post. Because I slowed down my shutter speed, you can feel how quickly the dancer’s leg was moving.

 
Use the panning technique to show a subject that is moving.

Use the panning technique to show a subject that is moving.

 

Panning for Movement

When the subject of your photo is moving and you want to demonstrate what he or she if feeling and seeing, then use the panning technique.

This is when you slow down your shutter speed, and move your camera at the same speed as the subject.

To accomplish this, you should try to keep your shutter speed around 1/30. But if your subject is moving a bit quicker, consider setting your shutter to 1/60.

I think the above photo is successful because I show the cyclist in focus and the setting around him seems to be passing him by.

To be successful, be sure to keep your arms close to your body. And as you release the shutter, move your body at the same rate as the subject.

This technique takes a bit of practice, and this may get frustrating. But keep practicing. When you get this, you will be thrilled with the results!

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