Tips for Capturing Motion Blur Photography


Motion blur pictures are a great way to show the main subject's moves. But for this, it is not enough to capture a moving car and hope for a beautiful result. Most likely, you will get just a blurry picture.

Achieving this effect is not that easy. To do this, you can use many tricks and techniques. You need to set special camera settings. These may include shutter speed, ISO, and aperture. All these indicators are extremely important for creating the smear effect. Or you can add the blur effect when post-processing.

We will talk about several working methods for creating blurred motion photography. Stay with us and read the article until the end to make your images high-quality and unique.

What Is Motion Blur?

What Is Motion Blur

It is one of the well-known techniques of capturing movement in photography. To achieve this effect, you can use a slow shutter speed. Due to such settings, moving objects become blurry. You can use different methods to achieve different smear effects.

Some of the objects in the frame must move to achieve this effect. It can be a camera, an object, or a background:

  • If your background and camera are static, but the object is moving, you will get blurred motion photography. It can be a moving motorcycle.
  • If your camera moves with the object and the background is static, you will get a blurry background.

With this effect, you can take captivating shots that symbolize a key moment in somebody’s life. It can be blurred motion photography: a ballerina in a car during a race or a football player when hitting the ball.

What's the Best Shutter Speed for Motion Blur Photography?

What the Best Shutter Speed for Motion Blur Photography

There is no perfect solution for smear pictures. In many ways, everything will depend on your conditions during the shooting. But there are several established standards. Let's take a look at them.

If you want to capture the motion of a fast subject, you will usually need a fast shutter speed. It can be 1/200, 1/125, 1/100 or 1/60.

Whereas a slow subject is best made with a slower shutter speed. Here you can set values from 1/500 to 1 second.

It is also important not to forget about image stabilization. This is because a person cannot stand still. And if you take a shot with a shutter speed setting of a few seconds, your shot will look shaky. Use a tripod or stabilizer to correct this problem.

How to Edit Photos With Motion Blur

How to Edit Photos With Motion Blur

You need to have a special program and tools to edit blurred motion photography. It could be Photoshop or some other graphics editor. With this method, you do not need to create special settings for your camera. You just need to take a clear picture and then edit it.

The software toolkit allows you to add different types of blur. You can use it for:

  • Specific area of the image.
  • The whole image.
  • Designated part.

It is noteworthy that the tools will not spoil your image. And you can make high-quality blurred motion photography with point movements. You can control both the direction and intensity of the effect.

In summary, software for editing captured motion is the best option. It allows you to use flexible settings for your picture.

As for the method itself, you need:

  • Import photos into Photoshop.
  • Select an image area. To do this, use the Pen Tool.
  • Open the Top Bar and go to the Filter tab. Then open the Blur - Motion Blur tab.
  • Choose settings for your effect.
  • Apply the changes.
  • You can then export your picture.

Tips to Capture Unique Motion Blur Photos

Tips to Capture Unique Motion Blur Photos

In this paragraph, we will tell you the best ideas for setting your camera for smear effect pictures. We'll also give you some practical tips on shooting the subjects in motion.

We will consider three modes of motion blur photography ideas:

  • Night shooting.
  • Panning.
  • Zooming.

To achieve a high-quality image, you should consider many factors, such as:

  • The speed of the object.
  • The presence of distracting objects in the frame.
  • Light.
  • Camera shake.

Because of so many factors, creating high-quality pictures can be difficult. But with our guide, you can achieve stunning results.

How to Take Motion Blur Photos While Night Shooting

Atmospheric shots and a melancholy mood characterize night shooting. Nighttime is great for taking photos in various types of lighting. To do this, you can use the light from:

  • Lampposts.
  • Buildings.
  • Vehicles.

Because of this variety, you can capture motion in many mesmerizing images.

For night shooting, you need to use a slow shutter speed. It could be:

  • 30 seconds.
  • Minute.
  • 2 minutes.

With such a slow shutter speed, you can create those most popular pictures where long rays of light from car lights stretch in the middle of a night road.

You can also experiment. To do this, set your camera to a slow shutter speed and turn on the flash. With these settings, you can make a portrait of a person or object against the backdrop of the city. You can freeze your subject with a flash. And everything behind it will turn into a beautiful mix of light and color.

How to Take Motion Blur Photos with Panning

Panning is one of the tricks when shooting. Its main feature is an artist moving behind the object in motion on the frame. This allows you to create a frame with a static object and a blurred background. Such a picture is perceived as the movement of an object at high speed.

But while the basic concept of panning is quite simple, you still need shooting skills. The most problematic moment in such a shooting is following the subject. Without a tripod or other camera mount, the picture is shaky. So to the pan, you need to have a camera lock.

Now let's look at some useful tips for capturing movement in photography:

  • Clear the background. First, you need to choose a background that does not have distracting objects. Such objects can be a crowd of people, a large amount of light, many shapes and figures, and various textures. All these will distract the viewer from your in-focus subject. Try to choose a background so there are not too many objects. Thus, consider in advance the trajectory of your camera in relation to a moving object.
  • AI Servo. With this function, the camera can automatically follow a moving subject. It will help keep the focus on it. Thus, the image is clear and not blurry. This function is based on artificial intelligence and allows photographers to use the camera more efficiently.
  • If you do not have such a function, you can manually adjust the focus. To do this, you can place the object in the centre of your composition. And after focusing, enable manual focus settings. This way, you can avoid automatic focus on the subject.

Camera setting:

  • Shutter speed. Select a mode from 1/30 to 1/125. But you should still experiment and change the settings for capturing movement in your photography. This is because movement speed and smear effect can also differ. The main thing is to follow the rule - the faster the object, the shorter the shutter speed. And vice versa.
  • ISO. Set the value to 100 or 200.
  • Aperture. You need to set the settings from f/8 to f/16. These settings will allow you to keep your subject in constant focus. But, in any case, you will most likely make changes as your situation may differ. But the data provided is a great start.

As for the shot, you need to move the camera along the subject's path before pressing the shutter button. After doing it, you must continue to move the camera. Do it until the moment the camera completes the picture.

Zoom with Motion Blur

Using the zoom to create memorable shots is also a popular motion blur photography idea. However, it can often distort the picture. This method is a little tricky and may take longer to achieve the desired effect.

In this case, you will not have a moving object in the frame. The effect of movement will be achieved by zooming in on the frame.

As for the shooting technique, the following can be distinguished:

  • Use a slow shutter speed. A great start for capturing movement in photography is to set your camera shutter speed to 1 second. In any case, you will adjust the exposure time as it depends on the personal preference of the artist and the desired result.
  • Consider the light. During daylight shooting with zoom, you may run into a problem. Due to the slow shutter speed, your frame may become overexposed. To solve this problem, you need to set the ISO to 100. And the aperture setting should be f/22. This way, you can avoid intense light entering your frame. And all the picture details will be visible normally.

As for the actual method of capturing motion pictures, you need to use the zoom function on your camera. To do this, zoom in or out while pressing the shutter button.

Mistakes When Taking Photos in Movement

Beginner artists often make the following mistakes when capturing motion blur:

  • Not using a tripod. Because of it, shakes can appear.
  • Using a shutter speed that is too slow. If the shutter speed is too slow, the camera will capture more smear effects in the image.
  • Not adjusting the aperture. A larger aperture (smaller f-stop number) will result in a shallower depth of field. And it can create a more dramatic effect.
  • Not using a flash. A flash can freeze action, preventing smears caused by movement.
  • Not paying attention to the background. A busy or cluttered background can detract from the effect. And it makes the image less appealing.
  • Not using manual mode. Using manual mode allows you to control the aperture, shutter speed and ISO. It gives you more control over the final image.
  • Not panning with the subject. Panning with the subject can create a sense of motion and can enhance the motion blur effect.

Bottom Line

As a result, capturing motion blur can be tricky for creating your portfolio. Knowing tricks and life hacks, you will create professional pictures. But gaining this experience may need a certain amount of time and perseverance. Be sure to experiment, and find new techniques and angles. And your pictures will get into top magazines and publication.

Portfoliobox builder allows you to create a unique and attractive portfolio. It will help you create a collection of blur photos. This way, no one will be able to scroll through your gallery without attention.


Which autofocus mode is best used for a motion blur shot?

For a motion blur shot, it's best to use a single-point autofocus mode. This allows you to select a specific point in the frame to focus on. It can be useful to capture motion blur in the background while keeping a specific subject in focus.

Is motion blur a disadvantage?

Motion blur can be a disadvantage in certain types of photography. It can be sports or action photography, where a sharp and clear image is often desired. But you can use it creatively to convey a sense of motion or to add a unique visual effect 
to an image.

What are the three reasons for motion blur?

The three main reasons for motion blur are: 

  1. Slow shutter speed.
  2. Camera shake.
  3. Subject movement.

Why do photographers use motion blur?

Photographers use motion blur creatively to convey a sense of motion. This adds visual interest and creates a sense of energy or drama in a scene.

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