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How to Capture Movement

  • Camera with manual settings
  • Sturdy tripod (that can handle wind)
  • Cable release or remote with timer/lock
  • ND Filters (when shooting long exposures in the light)

1. Slow Down or Speed Up Your Shutter Speed
The amount of time that the camera’s shutter is open determines how much subject movement the camera’s image sensor will ‘see’. 
For example, if your shutter speed is fast (eg 1/4000th of a second) it will ‘freeze’ subject movement. If you select a longer shutter speed (eg 1/10th of a second) any movement your subject makes will produce ‘motion blur’.

Shutter speed: Choose fast to freeze and slow to smooth

Another thing to consider is how much light you want in your exposure.  A longer shutter speed lets more light into your camera, on the other hand fast shutter speeds reduce the light hitting the sensor. Too much light will over expose the image, but not enough light will leave your image dark and under exposed.
To help balance out your exposure while shooting in Manual mode, try adjusting your ISO settings and your aperture size to control the light.
Shutter Priority Mode is allows you to set just your shutter speed and the camera chooses other settings (like Aperture) to ensure the shot is well exposed. It’s a very handy mode to play with as it ensures you get the movement effect that you’re after but also generally well exposed shots. 
For super long exposures, you can reduce the light further by using an ND filter.

2. Panning

The basic idea behind 'panning' is that you pan your camera along with the moving subject before you shoot, so you get a sharp subject but a blurred background to give the image a feeling of movement and speed. It’s particularly useful for capturing fast moving subjects like a car, running pet, cyclist etc.Panning seems to work best with subjects moving in a straight line parallel to the camera or so that you can predict where they are moving to.
  • Select a slightly slower shutter speed than you normally do. 
  • Position yourself in a place where your view of the subject will not be obstructed by anyone or anything else.
  • Check the background. If there are distracting shapes or colors it could prove to be distracting in the final image. 
  • As the subject approaches track it with your cameraFor extra support, use a monopod or tripod with a panning head.
  • Use your focus tracking function to let the camera do the focusing for you as you track your subject by half pressing the shutter button (depending upon it’s speed and whether it can keep up with the subject). If your camera doesn’t have fast enough auto focus you’ll need to pre-focus your camera on the spot that you’ll end up releasing the shutter.
  • Keep panning momentarily after you take the shot to allow for any lag your camera may have, so you will have a smooth shot.

3. Slow Sync Flash
This function sets your camera to shoot with both a longer shutter speed as well as firing the flash. This means you get a sharp image of your main subject as well as some ambient light from the background and foreground.Your camera might let you manually set exposure length and flash strength but on many compact cameras it’s preset as an automatic shooting mode, often called ‘night mode’ where the camera selects the slower shutter speed and flash strength for you.

If your camera lets you control the flash manually, it might give you a couple of options, either 'rear curtain sync' or 'front curtain sync'. These basically let you decide when to fire your flash during the long exposure.
Rear curtain tells your camera to fire at the end of the exposure. When you press the shutter the exposure begins, light hits your sensor or film and just before the shutter closes your flash fires, freezing your subject, but leaving a trail from where the movement started.
Front curtain is the opposite. the flash will fire when press the shutter, then your shutter will remain open for the duration of the selected exposure. The movement of the subject will be captured after the freeze.

Both techniques can give your image a real impact.

4. Zooming

You can add motion by zooming (physically rotating) your lens during the exposure. Use an exposure of around 1 second, or even longer to make it easier. A tripod is important for a shutter speed like this. Zoom in and lock focus on the main part of your subject first. Back button focus is very helpful here if you have that capability on your camera. As the focal length changes, it can result in an abstract effect, and is great fun to experiment with.

Enjoy this challenge, keep experimenting. Upload your results to our enter our challenge. We'd love to see what you come up with!

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