Creative Photography with Blurred Motion

by Linda Eodice

dennis tubestation london
dennis tubestation london
© Linda Eodice
All Rights Reserved
One very effective way to show motion in your photos is to allow a moving subject to become blurred. It approximates the way our eyes perceive a fast-moving subject, and turns the subject into a soft, suggestive presence.

You must use a slow shutter speed to record a moving subject as a blur. However, the exact shutter speed setting depends on several factors, such as the speed of the subject. You may be able to blur the motion of a speeding automobile at 1/60 second, but a slower-moving jogger may require 1/15 to 1/30 second. The angle at which you shoot your subject and its distance from you is also imperative. A subject that moves across your field of view blurs more quickly than one headed straight for you. A close subject blurs more than a faraway one moving at the same speed.

Besides using a slow shutter speed, you should also use a low ISO setting. Keep in mind that slow-motion effects work best in low light. You run the risk of overexposure on a bright, sunny day, so you may want to use a neutral-density filter when the light is bright.

You can capture a dramatic effect if you can record a sharp subject in contrast to the blurred motion. In this situation, I only had a few seconds to record a blurred train coming into the underground station in London, England. Using the shutter-priority mode on my camera, I set a shutter speed of 1/16 second, and used an ISO setting of 160. My aperture setting was f/3.5.

I asked my husband to hold still, so that I would have a sharp subject in contrast to the blurred train. Because he was in a more dimly lit area on the platform, he also recorded as a silhouette. I had time to shoot just two photos before the train came to a screeching halt, and I felt that this image was the more successful of the two.

Learn more about photography...

See Lynne Eodice's interactive courses at BetterPhoto's online school of photography:

About Author / Instructor / Photographer, Linda Eodice
Photography Instructor: Linda EodiceThe author of Photos That Inspire, Lynne Eodice teaches a number of excellent online classes for (see the current course listing below.) She is also the former Feature Editor for Petersen’s PHOTOgraphic.

A native of Southern California, Lynne was educated at Pasadena City College and Cal Poly Pomona. Her love of photography began after her husband gave her a 35mm SLR as an anniversary gift. She began her career as a feature writer & photographer for local newspapers that included Pasadena Weekly and The Herald Tribune.

Besides having articles and photos published regularly in PHOTOgraphic, she has contributed to Rangefinder, Digital Photographer and California Tour & Travel, as well as PHOTOgraphic’s Buyer’s Guide, Big Book of Photography and Family Photo magazines. Her images have appeared in a popular instructional book called The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Photography, and she has marketed her stock photos through Index Stock Imagery in New York.

Lynne has exhibited her fine-art scenic photography at Kolb Studio and the visitor’s center at Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, at Occidental College in Eagle Rock, California, and at venues throughout the San Gabriel Valley. In addition, she has taught many classes, seminars and workshops.

In the fall of 2007, she was honored as one of the Women Achievers in the San Gabriel Valley in Business Life magazine.

Lynne currently lives with her husband, Dennis and their dog, Chiquita in Altadena, California.