Are Your Photos of Movement a Disaster?

Kerrie Hess Carla Coulson

Kerrie Hess shot at 1/640 second on F4 copyright Carla Coulson

Do you love photos of movement but struggle with the technical side? Are your images too blurry when you don’t want them to be? Out of focus? Too frozen or there is too much camera shake?

I too love shooting movement especially people. It’s a big part of how I take portraits and create emotion so today I want to share a couple of tips.

1.  Depth of Field – So once you get someone moving such as walking or running they are generally moving in a range from a couple of metres to who knows where! To make sure they will be within your depth of field (the distance in focus as the camera sees it) choose an F-Stop such as F-11 or F16 (the higher the numbers the more depth of field).. This will give you a really wide depth of field from your focal point to infinity (i.e. lots of distance in focus). You will see in the above shot the F-Stop is F4, I wouldn’t recommend this if you are just starting out as the depth of field is very shallow. You can read more about depth of field here

2. Shutter Speed – This is your creative choice.  Your choice of shutter speed will depend on how fast your subject is moving,  whether you want a little movement blur or the movement to be absolutely frozen. In the above shot I have chosen a fast speed of 1/640 second as I wanted the movement frozen but as she was running I still have a little movement blur which I love. If I had wanted no movement blur I could have chosen a shutter speed of 1/2000 second. The slower the shutter speed i.e. 1/30 second the more movement blur, the higher the shutter speed such as 1/2000 second the more your movement will be frozen. More on shutter speeds here

3. ISO – Ok now you need to select an ISO that matches your above requirements. Dial up or down depending on your light conditions. The above shot was taken in mid-winter in Paris on a really low lit day. I had to go up to an ISO of 2000 to allow for a high shutter speed and that’s why I ended up using an F4 as I didn’t want to go any higher. As I mentioned above I recommend more depth of field when starting out. You can read more about ISO here

As movement is one of the key elements I use to create emotion in images and it is a technique I use everyday in my photography it will be a big subject at my Picture This Workshop along with many other of my shooting techniques and secrets.

If you feel blocked with how you are currently taking portraits, want to get out from behind the desk and get behind the camera or take steps forward to making photography a career you might like to join me and a great group of photographers at the Picture This Workshop in Sydney January 5,6,7,8 2015. It’s going to be a hoot! Last Places left..

If you have any questions about shooting movement leave me a message in the comments below and I will be sure to get back to you.

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.” Steve Jobs

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Please share with others struggling with blurry pics!








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One Response to Are Your Photos of Movement a Disaster?

  1. Thank you for sharing this piece It has been difficult for me to accept higher ISOs in the past year. Somewhere along the line I was programmed with the notion that ISOs higher than 400 is going to ruin my photos. As a result I have not always been able to get a good movement shot because of my restriction here. And yet the photographers I study [including yourself Carla] have shown many times over that an excellent photo is still produced at ISO 2000.

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