Quick guide: Intentional Motion Blur

This is the 6th in a Quick Reference Guide series that is straight to the point settings and tips to guide you through different photography themes, subjects and styles. Today we will be talking about creating intentional blur to imply motion in photography.  

Photos are two dimensional medium to transmit a message. If you want to convey movement, the only way to do it is to blur your subject(s) or your subject backgrounds as they ride past you. Sometime, other elements should remain sharp as to transmit a strong dramatic scene.

Start with these camera settings next time you are out shooting moving subjects:

  • Exposure: S/TV or Manual
  • Focus Mode: Single or one shot then switch to manual
  • Shutter speed: 1/4 sec for slow moving subject and a little bit quicker for vehicles
  • Aperture: f/16 or f/22
  • ISO: 100 for outdoor or 400 for indoor
  • Focal length: depending on your proximity to the subject
  • Drive mode: Single-shot
  • White Balance: Sunny or Cloudy for outdoor and Automatic for indoor

Consider those additional tips: 

  • Look around you for a vantage point 
  • If you are shooting a race and you know where your subjects will pass by, you need to focus on an areas then move to Manual focus for better results 
  • If you have a Neutral Density Filter to reduce the shutter speed in daylight, use it. ND filters help you lower the shutter speed in bright light 
  • Pan with the speed of your subject to blur the background or fix your hands for blurring your subject. Both imply motion in different ways
  • Use a tripod or monopod for better panning results 
  • In post-processing, increase clarity and sharpness to your taste