Motion in still photographyThere are two primary ways of recording motion or suggesting motion in still photography.
Use a shutter speed slow enough to record the blur of something that is moving.Use a shutter speed fast enough to freeze the action of something that the viewer will understand, from context, must have been moving.
The following two slides freeze moderately fast action through the use of relatively fast shutter speeds.
Note that there are actually several factors that combine to determine whether a particular action, or object or person in action, will record as blurry or sharp. These do include the shutter speed, but they also include:- the speed of the action or object or person in action- the distance between the camera and the object in action (The smaller the distance, the faster the shutter speed needs to be to freeze the action.) - the angle of view of the camera in relation to whatever is moving (Objects moving perpendicular to the lens of the axis do not exhibit as much relative motion as those moving across the field of view of the lens, and will not record with as much blur, if all other factors are equal.)
The next image shows water in motion. Note that the motion is swirling: no matter what the angle of the camera in relation to the water, theres really no way to minimize relative motion, since theres motion in a number of different directions.
Here, the shutter speed used was slow enough for the motion of the water to record in somewhat blurred fashion. Note that this technique of using a fairly slow shutter speed (lets say, 1/125th or 1/60th of a second) to let motion blur will work when youre close to something that is moving very quickly, as is the case in these two shots of the river. But if your subject is moving too slowly, youll have to use such a slow shutter speed in order to record the motion as a blur that you will run the risk of blur caused by camera motion (that is, the camera moving in your hands during the exposure) -- unless you brace the camera, as on a tripod.
The next two slides, of a dance class, show dance students holding positions. (At least, thats what it looks like to me: these are student photos, as are most of the others in this presentation.) They are not actually moving. However, their positions, which are inherently somewhat unstable, and which can be held only with some skill and effort, suggest potential movement. Because we can relate to these poses simply by virtue of our own experience of what various positions feel like, we read movement, or potential movement, into these shots. In addition, the second of these two photographs also conveys a sense of movement through the overlapping of several legs of several students, each in a slightly different position -- as if showing one leg moving through space over time.
I took the next three photos, strictly for purposes of demonstration. What you will probably notice first, beyond the fact that all three photos are composed identically, is that there is a change from very little depth of field to a lot of depth of field. Youll need to look much more carefully to see the change in the way the second hand of the small alarm clock is recorded. In the third shot, this second hand is blurred through an arc of roughly four seconds, which was the exposure time of this shot. Such a long exposure time was necessary in order to allow for the f-stop to be stopped down fully, and it was this very slow shutter speed that allowed for the slow motion of the second hand to record as a significant blur.
The next three photographs were created by a former photo student working independently on a long term project all about motion. She used a combination of ambient light and the flash built into her digital camera for these shots. By using a slow shutter speed (long exposure) in combination with a very brief flash, one can achieve an interesting mixture of sharpness and blur. Because the flash only reaches objects fairly close to the camera, these close objects are generally the only ones that record from the flash exposure. Objects and other elements further away from the camera are recorded primarily with the ambient light (that is, the light that is in the scene, apart from the flash) over the length of the full exposure time. They are, therefore, usually fairly blurry. This is true even when they are not moving, simply because the camera is moving.