Motion Photography

Chicago El in Motion

I always thought motion images looked so interesting, but never understood how you would go about creating them.  Of course I created my own blurry messes of photos when out and about with friends that couldn’t stand still long enough for a picture, but I didn’t realize that was somewhat the concept used for the motion shots I drooled over.  Go figure.

Then, in college, I started playing around with different styles of photography and kind of stumbled upon how you could create these images.  Safe to say, my first one was definitely not a keeper, but I at least realized what I needed to do.

First, you need a tripod.  I once read that if you’re too embarrased to lug around a tripod, pick a new hobby.  I didn’t think this was true, but a tripod can change the quality of your pictures instantly.  That is probably one thing everyone should invest in and Joby Gorillapods are perfect for beginners.

Rush Street at Night

Once you are prepared, go out an find a place that has enough movement, whether it’s traffic, people, or even animals, these all can create a great photo.  Being in Chicago, I had overwhelming opportunities to find a place that would create the perfect scenario.

For these shots, your shutter will be open for longer lengths of time, anywhere from five seconds to 20 depending on the effect you want.  The great thing about digital is you can take hundreds of test shots and not waste any film.  The first time I really tried this technique I was using film and only had four rolls with me, so I was more limited, but with digital, the options are endless.

Michigan Avenue at Night

If you’re shooting during the day, tons of light will be hitting the sensor in your camera because the shutter is open for longer, so make sure your aperture is set to a very low setting such as, 22 if not smaller.  If you’re shooting at night, depending on the lights around you, you can go for a larger opening such as 8.  These will all vary depending on what you’re hoping to accomplish.

Ultimately, this technique takes practice and will most likely not be what you expected on the first try.  However, practice makes perfect, no?  So try different settings, different lighting and different times to figure out what you want your photos to convey.

So, like always, go out and shoot, shoot, shoot!  Post what you’ve captured in my comments section because I’d love to see what everyone has been trying.

Photos: By Me!  Check out my Flickr page.


About alboehm

I am currently a senior at Loyola University Chicago, majoring in Public Relations and Advertising as well as minoring in Photography. I was born and raised in the heart of St. Louis, MO but have fallen in love with Chicago. I have created this blog to share what I love about photography and what I have learned over the years. Currently I am just starting to dabble in digital photography whereas I have been using film in my classes for the past few semesters. I hope y'all enjoy! "There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer." ~ Ansel Adams
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One Response to Motion Photography

  1. matt says:

    makes me want to drink alchoholic beverages

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