Long exposures to emphasize movement

Using long exposures to show movement in photography

Movement in photography

Photography isn't just about framing a scene and pressing the shutter button.  Photography is limited only to your imagination, and now with the possibilities of Photoshop, anything is possible!  This article focusses on the basics for movement and capturing movement in your photography.

There are three main creative modes on your camera to shoot, aperture priority (you control the size of the camera's aperture using F-stop), shutter priority (you control the shutter value or the speed of the shutter) and manual, where you control all the values for exposure.  Depending on what you are shooting, you are going to have to make a decision on which mode you want to shoot on.  If, for example, you are a sports photographer and you are required to capture moments that are over in fractions of a second, then you may not always have the luxury of shooting in manual.  If there is a lot of movement  and you want to emphasize the movement of the athletes, then you want to be able to control the shutter speed.  A rule of thumb to remember, for you newbies - the faster your shutter speed, the sharper your image will be.  If we want to see this movement, then we will want to control the shutter speed and will probably shoot in shutter priority.

How much movement is enough?  Well that will be entirely your artistic call.  If you are shooting a sporting event for a publication like a newspaper or magazine, then you probably don't want too much movement.  This all depends on the pace of the sport you are photographing.  A good idea is start on the lowest ISO (ASA) value, to make sure you don't get too much grain.  This already reduces the shutter speed.  If you are shooting really fast pace sports, such as cycling or motocross etc, you don't need too long of a shutter speed.  You will need to fire off a few frames to see which shutter values work best.  I normally start at ISO 100 at 1/60 on shutter priority, this means the camera will work out my aperture value and I don't waste unneccessary time figuring out the correct exposure.  By the time you find the right settings, you moment could be long gone!  

movement in photography

If you are looking to achieve quite a fair amount of movement, then you will want to have access to a tripod. Lets say you want to photograph a river where the water is constantly flowing, and want to show that movement of the water.  Your safest bet is to use a solid tripod, one that won't shift with movement.  The idea of the tripod is capture the sharpest image as possible by reducing camera shake and movement to zero.  Once you have set up frame and have composed your image, you can start playing with settings.  As a photographer you have to work fast, but also display patience.  It is going to take some time to get the settings you desire, and it is trial and error.  Make sure your ISO is low as possible to get really sharp, grain-less images (unless that is what you are going for).  Then set you shutter speed.  If you are looking for ghostly images, then set your shutter speed really slow.  Don't be afraid to have shutter speeds for several seconds, you may be surprised at the results!  

Movement with long exposures

You should hopefully be left with a ghostly image of soft, moving water with pin sharp clarity of inanimate objects in your frame.  Don't be afraid to play around with setting and see their result.  You may just find something you like that you can incorporate in your photography style.