DAY 5 OF 10: “MOTION” How to capture motion:

dog with ball in mouth jumping over a fallen tree trunk
Photo by chepté cormani on

This is Day 5 of 10, on the subject of “Seeing a Photo”. And today’s subject, specifically, is all about seeing motion, and how to capture it.

Day Five: “Moment” — Capture Motion

Our lives are made up of big events and tiny moments. Life is fleeting, and oftentimes it’s the small moments, this motion, that we love to document.

Consider one such moment brought to life by a Sufi dancer, in the courtyard of a former traveler’s inn in Cairo:

The colors, the music, the chanting, the whirling… Sufi dancers are mesmerizing: they spin themselves into meditative states. Here, a moment becomes an eternity.

Think about the fleeting moments you experience each day — from a moment with your child to a commute through the subway among strangers. What moment will you share with us?

Today’s Tip: Movement is a great way to convey time and fleetingness. Play with motion and achieve varied results by turning your flash off. Or using a tripod to keep your camera steady. Or panning your camera across your scene while following a moving subject.

Day Five: “Moment” — Capture Motion

Photo of a train at Berlin Alexanderplatz Station by Cheri Lucas Rowlands.
Photo of a train at Berlin Alexanderplatz Station by Cheri Lucas Rowlands.

Tips for photographing motion, for all cameras and cameraphones:

  • Turn your auto-flash off, even in low-light conditions. Today’s image of the Sufi dancer was snapped in the dark, with no flash. It’s grainy and not the best quality, yet the fuzziness evokes being transfixed in that moment.
  • While photographing moving subjects, use a tripod or lay your device on a surface to keep it still. Use a table, an empty seat, or another flat, solid surface to rest your camera.
  • Experiment with panning. Pan your camera across your scene while following your moving subject. It takes practice, but if done right you can produce images with clear subjects against blurred backgrounds.

Tips for intermediate and advanced-level photographers using cameras with manual settings:

Slow down your shutter speed (meaning, keep the shutter open longer). When the shutter is open longer, your subject has more time to move across the frame, creating a blur effect. This can lead to overexposure, especially during the day, as you’re letting in more light to take a picture. To compensate, close your aperture (the size of the opening) more and use a higher f-stop number, or adjust to a lower ISO.

Alternatively, set your camera to “shutter priority mode” so you can set your shutter speed, but let the camera auto-select other settings — like the aperture — to ensure proper exposure.

One more thing you can do to really improve your shutter speed technology, is to get a basic book on shutter speed (click on this). I was amazed how many good books there are on basic techniques with cameras.

See you next Monday through Friday for the completion of this series.

LAST LOOK: Another amazing photo of showing motion:

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