Conservator » Environment » Slow motion

Slow motion

Movement is everywhere in spring. with camera in hand, it can be hard to keep up

Caption: Maintaining focus on a moving subject, while tracking it with your camera, can result in a greater sense of motion in an image – a rewarding technique that takes patience and practice.©Kathleen Peterson
Caption: Maintaining focus on a moving subject, while tracking it with your camera, can result in a greater sense of motion in an image – a rewarding technique that takes patience and practice.©Kathleen Peterson

Nature never stops. Capturing the revival of spring with your camera is an exercise in expressing growth and movement.

Motion communicates life, action, but also mood: Rustling leaves in the wind or a gurgling brook rushing over stones suggests serenity, while the cacophony of returning birds in the sky symbolizes speed and vitality.

Any of these scenes can come alive in your photography if you convey motion properly – even when the movement is small or subtle. The blurred wing-tips of a flying duck. Waves lapping on the shore of a lake. Northern Lights dancing across a night sky. Capturing these slices of life in a photograph through control of movement is a skill that takes time and practice.

There are different ways to imply motion in a photograph. Sometimes it helps to blur only parts of an image, focusing on subjects in the foreground. At other times, you may want to lend motion to the entire scene. Here are some basics that will help you on your way:

Slow the show

Motion blur is a result of the amount of time a camera’s shutter is open, letting the image sensor “see” the movement of your subject. Selecting a longer shutter speed allows you to capture more of a scene, even if it’s just for a fraction of a second.

Hold still

It’s imperative to keep your camera as still as possible, or else in addition to the blur from the subject, you’ll notice the whole image appears as if it’s moving – a byproduct of using a longer shutter speed. A tripod is optimal, or you can rest the camera on a flat, solid surface. Depending on the situation, propping yourself against a wall or tree may be all it takes. The slower the shutter speed – with shots taken at night, for example – the more crucial it becomes to keep your camera from moving.

Keep it dark

Unless your subject is moving swiftly, it’s tricky to imply movement in an image when the sun is shining. More successful shots that incorporate blur are taken at dawn or dusk, in shadows, or on cloudy days with lower light.

Decrease your ISO

A way to compensate for the extra light a longer shutter speed lets into your camera is to adjust the ISO setting. ISO impacts the sensitivity of your camera’s image sensor. Select a low number and you’ll be able to use longer shutter speeds.

Snap and post! Share your photos with our nature-loving community by posting to DUC’s Facebook page or tagging DucksUnlimitedCanada on Instagram.

 

Jeope Wolfe

Jeope Wolfe

Jeope Wolfe is a graphic designer for Ducks Unlimited Canada, hobbyist-level photographer and new-ish dad who chases his toddler daughter around the house, yard, and country.

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