Motion in Photography #
Here we explore one of the more incredible things about photography. Photography has the unique ability to freeze a moment in time, as it happened. This capability can and has been used to great effect throughout the history of the craft. Study this to improve your own images!
As we have learned so far, there are three camera controls that govern exposure:
|ISO||Aperture (F-Stop)||Shutter Speed|
We learned that Aperture controls Depth of Field, ISO controls the camera’s sensitivity to light.
Now we will learn about the Shutter Speed, which controls Motion.
The rendering of motion is controlled by Shutter Speed. #
The faster the shutter speed, the less motion blur you will have. The longer the shutter is open, the more blur you will have.
Regarding motion, a camera can do three different things:
- Capture a still object: “Still Time”
- Freeze a moving object: “Frozen Time”
- Blur an object (still or moving): “Extrusive Time”
Still Time #*Capturing an object that is not moving, as in this still-life photograph by Paulette Tavormina. This is often called Still Time. One may use a tripod in these situations, which keeps the camera still. That way, the photographer does not move the camera while shooting.
Frozen Time #
Freezing the motion of an object that is moving is often called frozen time and is achieved by using a fast shutter speed.
Below is an example of one of the first series of photographs that used a quick shutter speed created by Eadweard Muybridge in 1878. At the time, the device used to allow light into the camera was a lens cap. The photographer would prepare the plate for exposure and then remove the cap for approximately two seconds and then place the cap back on the camera lens. As you can imagine, photographic frozen time had been seen before.
Muybridge invented a mechanical shutter from wood, a trigger, and rubber springs that would cause the shutter to close in 1/1000th of a second. In order to capture the shots you see below, he placed twelve cameras down a race track in Palo Alto, California. Each camera had a trip-wire attached to it that would fire the shutter when the cart ran over the wire. This all was done to unequivocally determine if all four hooves of a horse left the ground at gallop speed.
Another quick example of frozen time is this photo by Barbara Morgan. of Martha Graham dancing.
Just for fun, below is an ultimate example by Harold Edgerton. of freezing motion. This too is called frozen time and was achieved by using a studio strobe (flash) to freeze the motion. To learn more about how to use studio lighting or off-camera flashes, check out our PHOT 209 class.
Extrusive Time #Blurring the motion of an object that is moving or not moving is the application of a concept known as Extrusive Time. In this image, both the bobsled and the camera are moving; infusing this image by Bob Gomel with a sense of dynamism.
So, which shutter speeds should you use? The slower the shutter speed, the more blur you will achieve. Most cameras have an internal shutter speed of 30 seconds. If you want to have exposures that last longer than 30 seconds, switch your shutter to “bulb” mode. This mode keeps the shutter open as long as you have the shutter button pressed on your camera.
3 Techniques for Exploiting Motion (Extrusive Time) in Your Images: #
In your upcoming Motion exercise, you will be required to create photographs with the techniques shown below.
|Panning is accomplished by following the subject as it moves through the scene while using a relatively slow shutter speed. The camera must move with the subject through the duration of the exposure. Here you can see that the subject is fairly sharp while the background is blurred. SBCC Alum, Teo, shot this at 1/30 of a second.|
MOVING CAMERA #
|Also known as camera shake. This occurs when the camera is moved during the exposure while the subject is still or moving in another direction. Everything is blurred when this method is employed as in this shot by Lillian Bassman.|
MOVING SUBJECT #
|In a photo featuring moving subjects, still objects (such as the trees) are sharp while moving objects (such as the stars) are blurred from the motion. The photographer, SBCC Alum Mark SkovorodkoLinks to an external site., set his camera up on a tripod in the dead of night and kept his shutter open for 30 Minutes using the “bulb” setting on his camera. The landscape remained still as the stars streaked through the sky.|
As you can see, the use of the shutter speed to control motion and freeze or blur an object has a lot of potential. It is up to you to experiment!
Now that you have an idea of what each will look like and how to create them, check out this short video for more examples