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Enhance Your Photos With Motion Blur


Slowing down your shutter speed can yield great motion blur effects, but what are some of the elements that you can include to add more appeal to your images? Read on below!


Motion Blur in Architecture

Architecture photography focuses on buildings, heritage sites, bridges, cityscapes and other impressive structures. With leading lines, patterns and structural form, they are always stunning. 

EOS 6D, EF16-35mm f/4L IS USM, f/11, ISO 50, 80s, 16mm by @yongyichuaaa 

With the help of motion blur, you can instantly add depth to these otherwise still photographs. You can use natural elements such as moving clouds in the background (as pictured above) to give a dramatic look to the architectural structures. To add emphasis, you can also use external elements such as speeding traffic or light trails around a particular building. For interior shots, you can look to use human traffic as the motion blur elements.  

EOS 6D Mark II, EF16-35mm f/4L IS USM, f/11, ISO 100, 8s, 16mm by @andreweldon 

Architecture photography is primarily an outdoor affair. This is also why you need to bring along protective gear for your camera and other equipment. This way, you will be able to shoot impeccable shots in any weather, rain or shine. Additionally, if you plan to use traffic to add extra effects, make sure you scout the location well in advance to know the traffic patterns and when it will deliver the best trailing light effect!  

Tip: a tripod is essential to most motion blur photography. It offers you the stability you require to capture crystal clear shots without adopting the unpleasant camera shake blur. If you don’t have one, you can try to stabilise your camera on a flat, stable surface.


Motion Blur in Landscape 

Landscape photography is one of the most blissful forms of photography. Just imagine witnessing nature's marvels and having the ability to capture those stunning moments – that's the creative ability a landscape photographer is blessed with.  

Check out our most recent interview with award-winning landscape photographer, Shirley Wung

EOS 6D Mark II, EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM, f/10, ISO 100, 30s, 16mm by @priantopuji 

Motion blur works wonderfully for long exposure landscape photography. To add drama, you can use star trails or rolling waves on a beach; this will dramatically enhance the photographs you capture. Waterfalls can also breathe freshness and life into landscape shots instantly. Do keep in mind that sunrise and sunset are the best times to add that element of magic to the photographs. 

EOS 6D Mark II, EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM, f/20, ISO 50, 1s, 16mm by @priantopuji 

Tip: the remote shutter release is a beneficial tool. It helps you to connect and control your camera remotely, keeping the vibration or camera shake to a minimum.


Motion Blur in Street Photography 

Street photography is an abstract yet meaningful form of photography. Capturing the hustle and bustle of busy streets, the rush of people, the innumerable activities going on all at once – street life doesn't stop. And as a street photographer, it's your responsibility to capture this ambience in a single photograph. 

EOS R, RF50mm f/1.2L USM, f/16, ISO 100, 3.2s, 50mm by @peianwu 

Motion blur is a fun technique you can use to capture these street shots. You can capture scenes such as a still crowd against a moving train, a pan shot of a subject cycling across the colourful walls in a city, or focus on a single person standing in a moving crowd (pictured below). All of these will result in mesmerising and meaningful shots. 

EOS 6D Mark II, EF24-70mm f/2.8L II USM, f/11, ISO 50, 1s, 24mm by @_mrsugeng 

When it comes to street photography, patience is key. You may have to wait for hours to get the perfect opportunity to capture a frame. Also, you might have to move around quite a bit to achieve the perfect shot; after all, a bustling city has a lot to offer! While you're on the move, your camera should be in the 'ready, set, go' stage to capture the speed at which everything happens in a busy street. Shooting handheld is usually the case, but it may work against you with camera shake from the slow shutter speed, so don’t tune it too slow.  

Also, use the Shutter-priority AE (TV mode) to pre-set a suitable shutter speed that minimises camera shake to photograph more efficiently. Moments don’t last in street photography, and TV mode reduces your need to manually set your aperture and ISO as it will automatically set them to achieve a balanced exposure for you. 

If you are using the EOS R5 or R6, using a slow shutter speed won’t be an issue because of the 8-stop compensation from the In-Body Image Stabilizer (In-Body IS). Using a slow shutter speed of even up to 2 secs (depending on the focal length) with In-Body IS activated can help ensure that the structures are sharp while allowing motion blur to be incorporated into the shot.


For similar articles: 
Camera Settings to Use for Awesome Slow Shutter Shots! 
Capturing Motion In One Frame with Sequence Photography 
3 Slightly More Interesting Ways to Shoot Fast-Moving Subjects