How to Master Shutter Speed to Portray Motion in a Photograph

camera, outdoor photography, photography, shutter speed -

How to Master Shutter Speed to Portray Motion in a Photograph

Have you ever seen images that depict motion and wondered how to capture similar results?

Well in this article we will take you through two examples you can try today that will see you master the techniques. Both results have everything to do with changing your shutter speed. Essentially by doing this you will be changing the amount of time the camera's shutter is open for.

1) The first example is motion captured in clouds or water.

Landscape photographers generally use this technique, and when used effectively, the results can be breathtaking.

To obtain this result, all you will need is a sturdy tripod. Filters like Neutral Density or Circular Polarising are optional but can be essential when extending your shutter speed times in bright conditions.

Position your tripod and then change your camera to shutter priority. Shutter priority is generally shown as ‘S’ or ‘TV’ setting on your mode dial. Once selected change the shutter speed to one second (1") or longer if you want to capture more motion blur. Longer shutter speeds like these are best used in lower light conditions like before sunrise or after sunset. Outside of these times, a filter like the ones mentioned above will need to be used.

Photo by Braxton Stuntz 


2) The second way to portray motion in a photograph is a panning technique.

To achieve this result, you must master following a subject with your camera. All you need to do is change your shutter speed to a slower speed of around 1/30 or a second. Choose your subject; they might be a motorcyclist rider flying past or a jogger running past and then practice tracking them with your camera. The trick is to keep your subject in the same area of your frame and at the same focal length (i.e. don’t zoom in or out) as they move past.

The final piece of the puzzle is to press the shutter button while continuing to pan along with your subject. When done right, the technique should be one fluid motion. The final image result will be the subject in sharp focus, and the area around your subject should be portrayed as motion blur.


Photo by Sadiq Nafee

Mastering these two techniques are an easy way to take your photography to the next level without much effort.

It all takes practice, but when done right people will be asking, how did you do that?



Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published