LAPC #212: Motion

Photography to me is catching a moment which is passing, and which is true.
โ€” Jacques-Henri Lartigue

Maybe, like me, you’re drawn to scenes with planes soaring overhead, waterfalls cascading down a cliff, bees hovering near a flower, people strolling down the street, or cars speeding by. You may also like to capture motion to convey a mood, like one person standing still amidst swirling eddies of pedestrians.

This week, we are inviting you to explore the movement of objects or people in your photos. You have several options to do this. Here’s one way: set your camera on auto and let it do most of the work. It will automatically increase the shutter speed and freeze the action. You can also manually adjust the speed settings. That’s when the real fun begins.

Freezing an Object in Motion

In this photo my cellphone camera used a fast shutter speed (1/900th of a second) to capture the movement of the steamboat in Vancouver harbor. The camera processed the scene automatically and kept it completely in focus.

Last weekend, at the Abbotsford Airshow, I used manual settings to capture the thrilling and blazingly fast USAF Thunderbirds flying in formation. My shutter speed was 1/1900th of a second in shutter priority mode.

You can also selectively focus on a section of the image to highlight the part in motion. In this image, the background mural (my subject) is in focus, but the cars in the foreground are in motion.

This type of image is a bit tricky to capture. I shot this image at 1/13th of a second, so I could keep the background in focus while the cars zipped past. I had to hold the camera very steady. Better yet, I could have used a tripod.

Sometimes the reverse is true: I keep the foreground in focus, while the action (the water in this case) is blurred in the background. In this situation, I used a slower shutter speed because slower speeds blur motion.

Using Motion Blur Tools

You have another option to show motion. You can use post production tools in Photoshop or Lightroom, for example.

For this post, I explored one of Photoshop’s tools to create motion blur. The photo on the left is the original unedited image, shot at a very high speed, with everything in focus. After cropping the image and using the dodge tool to lighten the plane, I used the motion blur tool to create the illusion of the clouds moving. On the right, you’ll see the plane is in focus, but the clouds in the background are blurred. Does this give you the illusion that the plane is moving fast?

Moton Blur in Photoshop Before and After

Creating an Animation on Your Cellphone

Cellphone cameras have become very sophisticated, rivaling the capabilities of some older digital cameras. Some cameras can even create animations and do action panning and time lapses.

Here’s an example of an animation of water droplets hitting the surface of the Lost Lagoon Lake in Stanley Park. The phone cleverly takes two photos and combines them to create the illusion of motion.

There are other options to capture motion, such as action panning and time lapses. I’m just beginning to explore them.

This week, we invite you to have fun with motion. Show us images where you froze the action or focused on the moving parts of an image in the foreground or the background. Maybe you discovered techniques like action panning or time lapses. It’s your choice. Just remember to link your post to this one and use the Lens-Artists tag to help us find your post in the Reader.

Last week Anne Sandler challenged us to explore the question “What’s Your Photographic Groove?” A great challenge, Anne. It was fun comparing our “grooves!” Next week, our talented Amy will lead the challenge. Visit her site next Saturday at noon EST to join the fun.

Until then, have an inspiring week. Stay well and stay safe.

Interested in joining the Lens-Artists challenge? Click here for more information.

172 replies »

  1. What an interesting post! I’ve learned so much. Thanks for great photos, but what I really appreciate are all the techniques you shared. I’ll have to try the cellphone trick first — it seems doable. But my favorite photo is the one with the blurred cars in the foreground. Such nice work!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Brenda. That spot on the lake really captured my attention. I still don’t know where the bubbles off to the right came from!! Yes, the water seems to be falling from the sky! I was so intrigued. Glad you are, too!


    • Wonderful, Anita. I love hearing that. I really helps me figure out what’s working and what isn’t. Now I’ve got to think of my next theme in October….um…..


    • Hi, Tina. Thanks! I didn’t know about the P/S trick either, but Alex told me about it. ๐Ÿ‘. The loop de loop was so much fun. The pilots were amazing! Have a great week, with plenty of cooler temps (I hope).


  2. Patti – thank you for a marvelous challenge! Well explained and illustrated as usual – and I learned something new. I like that! Never heard of the blur thing in PS – have to try it. I can see you had fun with this …- so will I and hopefully all of us!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi, AC. I’m glad you like this one! Alex told me about the blur effect in P/S. a few days ago. I didn’t know about it either. I’m sure that your images will be beautiful–as always. Have a good week. ๐Ÿ˜€๐Ÿ˜€


  3. I learned a lot, Patti. Iโ€™ll have to try out some of these techniques. Thank you for sharing them with great success. The cars speeding past the mural worked out really well. The last photo is really funky. It is more like a video. I wonder if the file size is very large to do those sorts of shots?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Lovely photos as always.

    I think the shot of the steamboat is particularly nice. There’s a good use of space and it feels quite scenic.

    The one with the plane threw me off a bit as I wasn’t immediately recognising both versions as the same image.
    It’s a pretty nice change.

    Here’s mine for this one:

    Rocks Breaking Water


  5. Great collection. Great challenge. I love the way you displayed your photos, and took time to tell us how you did it. It really is hard to capture a car in motion, with the background clear. Well done. I guess a race track would be a fun place to experiment with that.

    The animation your did with your cellphone was fun. That is new for me. Love it when I love the post and learn from it. Nice. Donna

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This one was a proper challenge for me! Your post has some excellent examples so I set off on a search among my archives and more recent shots and came up with some I think work to show motion in different ways:

    You’ve prompted me to see what effects I can find in the various editing programmes I use (I only have PS Elements, but also Nik Effex) that could simulate motion. Likewise my phone – maybe that has some tricks up its sleeve!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Patti, These are some wonderful examples of capturing movement. I hadn’t thought of using the blur tool. You’ve given us some simple techniques we can use to make our photos more interesting. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ll have mine in my Public Art post tomorrow. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Elizabeth. I hope you can try the .gif animation. It is fun. Now I’ve got to find more occasions to use it. And thanks too for your kind words about the post. I am delighted.


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