Have you ever wondered how to photograph motion? On the way home from our trip to Mendocino County we stopped to view the Golden Gate Bridge and I wanted to capture the motion of the cars crossing it. I don’t play a lot with photographing so it took me a little longer than usual to set up the shot. I’ve shared my best tips and tricks for how to photograph motion below.
In order to photograph motion, you’ll need a camera and a tripod or very stable surface to set your camera on. You will also need basic knowledge about how to control lighting in a photograph. If you don’t know this, you can learn some tips and tricks here.
1. Set up your camera, frame your photo, etc. You’ll want it to be ready to take the photo aside from your settings.
2. Set your exposure, or your shutter speed. For most of these photos I found that somewhere close to 2 seconds worked best. You can adjust the shutter speed based on how quickly your subject is moving.
3. Set your Aperture. Do you want to have less of your subject in focus, or do you want everything in focus? Bokeh will depend on the distance between your focus points and lighting and background, for tips, read my Holiday Lights Bokeh post. I tried to capture some in the photos below, but the distance between the camera and the main subject (bridge) was too far. In the shot above I wanted everything in focus, so the settings are different (higher aperture).
3. Set your ISO/ Film Speed. Is it light or dark outside? I’d recommend a very low ISO for this because your shutter will be open longer, thus letting in more light. For most of these photographs I set mine anywhere between ISO 100 and ISO 320. If you want to let in more light it should be higher, less will be lower.
I like to snap a photo between each step to give me an idea of how to better adjust the photo. I know, I could use a light meter but it was 40 degrees out and very windy when I took these.
1. ISO 200, F 1.4, 1/20 second
This image is too dark, and the car headlights are single dots, in focus. I will lengthen my exposure time, which should blur headlights and brighten image.
2. ISO 200, F.1.4, 2.0 seconds
The headlights are now blurred (motion) but because of the longer exposure the image is too bright. I will lower my ‘film speed’ (ISO) to dim the image.
3. ISO 100, F 1.4, 2.0 seconds
This image is much better, and you can see the headlight trails from the cars on the bridge.
I hope this helps you understand how to better capture movement in a photograph. I want to do more with a tripod during our trips and play around more with motion in photographs.
These photos were taken from the lookout point in Marin Headlands just off of highway 101, north of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Have you ever photographed motion? If you haven’t, what types of photos do you want to take?