6 Ultimate Tips for Motion Blur Photography

Blur is a Tool, not a Magic Trick. You’ll need to know when blur should be used and that it is intentional. You can even plan ahead. If you know the location in which you will be photographing you can even visualize images before you ever get there.

Using movement and creating blur makes sense if the idea of say, speed, dreamscape, or a soft ambiance is the goal of the image, but it isn’t something that can be universally applied to make any photo better.

Guidelines for Motion Blur Photography

Don’t Blur Your Story

You need to know what story you are going to tell before you tell it. So, before deciding if you need motion in your photo, decide what your photograph is going to say – the story it will convey to the viewer. Many think random or off the cuff photos yield better blurry pictures, but more often than not, it will take a lot of thought and preparation in order to create a really great image.

Make Blur Contrast Work for You

Good photographers understand contrast, such as light vs dark, soft vs sharp and what is static or shows motion within the image frame. They understand that contrast is a key component necessary in order to create a great image.

In photography, continuous movement means total chaos.

It is generally never all or nothing for a photo. Blurring works best when only a part of the photo is blurred, that way the sharper part is in high contrast, and that is what actually conveys the speed, etc. So part of the decision making process in the setup phase is determining what part of the photo you are going to blur and why.

Choose the Best Shutter Speed

Normally when you want to blur a photo, you use a slow speed. But, the shutter speed will always depend on how fast the object or person you want to photograph is moving, and what angle they are in relationship to you and your camera.

For example: If someone is walking directly at you, in a straight line, the speed you want in order to create a sense of motion is probably quite slow, 1/8 of a second or less, but if that same person is walking left to right, crosswise from you, you need to speed it up to about 1/20 sec.

Mistakes Are Going to Happen

Though shutter speed is crucial, it is one of the two factors involved with the idea of motion or blur. You must also consider the ISO and it will need to be adjusted accordingly in order to let you create an image with quality exposure.

The best advice I can give is to set the camera on Speed Priority (perhaps ‘S’ on any given camera), and let it auto adjust the f-stop. Try different speeds and check the results. Adjust the ISO based on the auto f-stop and all will go much quicker. Then prepare everything and you’ll be ready for the moment when it comes – ready to make that final picture.

Luck is Part of the Equation

If there is any time when you need a bit of luck, it may just be during those times when you are capturing movement. But, the worst you can do is leave it all ‘up to luck’.

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