Home Photography Composition Capturing Motion Blur When Composing a Photograph

Capturing Motion Blur When Composing a Photograph

7 min read

Capturing motion blur in photography is a great way to create stunning photographs.

When we think of motion blur photography most people think of photographing sports or other fast moving objects like cars. While capturing a sharp image of a football player catching a pass or a Porsche zooming by a mountainside works well, there are other great (and often missed) opportunities to use motion and blur within your compositions.

By mastering the basics of motion blur in photography composotions you’ll add an extra weapon to your arsenal of photography skills that can be applied in an almost limitless amount of photographic situations.

Today, we are going to share with you some tips on how to create motion blur photography.
Motion Blur Photography Samples

Tips on Capturing Motion Blur Photography

Use a Slow Shutter Speed

The trick to creating motion blur in your photographs is to use a slow shutter speed.

A slow shutter speed allows the shutter of your camera to stay open longer, which then allows the camera to capture the movement within the photo. The slower the shutter speed the more noticeable the movement.

How long should your shutter speed be?

The answer to that question depends on the subject within your photo and the mood you are trying to create.

Which of the below would you rather have in your photograph?

  1. Blurry subject and sharp background
  2. Sharp subject and blurry background

To achieve – A) Blurry subject and static background

First of all, its very important that you keep your camera perfectly still when composing this type of photograph.

You can achieve this by using a tripod or sitting it on another still object. Since you are using a slower shutter speed any movement of the camera will result in the whole image becoming blurry, including the background.

Your shutter speed choice depends on how fast the subject is moving. For example, trying to create motion blur in a photograph of a turtle walking by would require a slower shutter speed than a race car zooming by.

A good rule of thumb is to start out with a shutter speed of 1/15 or 1/8. Take the shot and see if you like the effect. Ask yourself, “Is this too little or too much motion blur for my taste?” Depending on the answer will determine if you should raise or lower your shutter speed.

In some cases you may have to lower your shutter speed to 4 sec, 15sec or 30 sec. Experiment until you find the perfect speed for your composition.

To achieve – B) Sharp subject and blurry background

Choosing a shutter speed for this type of motion blur photography is a lot easier. You generally have only one of two choices to make: 1/30 or 1/60.

A good rule of thumb here is to use 1/30 for a subject that is traveling slower than 30mph and 1/60 for anything traveling faster.

To achieve a sharp subject and blurry background in your photo’s composition the trick is to pan with your subject as you take the shot. This will keep your subject sharp and in focus while the background becomes motion blur.

It may take several attempts to get a perfectly sharp subject while you are panning but don’t worry you’ll get there. Practice makes perfect in this situation!
Shutter Speed Effect on Motion Blur Photography

Finally, Use Shutter Priority Mode

Unless you love to shoot in Manual Mode, we suggest you turn your camera’s dial to Shutter Priority Mode (Tv) when composing a motion blur photograph.

Using Shutter Priority Mode will make taking these types of photographs a whole lot easier.

Shutter Priority Mode is a mode that allows you to set your shutter speed and the camera chooses other settings (like Aperture) to ensure the shot is well exposed. It’s a very handy mode to play with as it ensures you get the movement effect that you’re after but also generally well exposed shots.

Well, that’s it for capturing motion blur photography! We hope you enjoyed this article and ask that you please share it with other photographers and make a comment below.



  1. Livefromtheflipside's Blog

    April 20, 2012 at 2:13 am

    […] effects the motion blur of an image take a look at the picture below. Picture borrowed from FreeDigitalPhotographyTutorials.com) The pin wheel was spinning in all three of these pictures. Taking a picture of a moving object at […]

  2. […] effects the motion blur of an image take a look at the picture below. Picture borrowed from FreeDigitalPhotographyTutorials.com) The pin wheel was spinning in all three of these pictures. Taking a picture of a moving object at […]

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