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Capturing Movement in Photography
Photographing stillness in a moving world. Sounds weird doesn't it? Like a tittle from a mystery movie. But this is a photographic project which can be easy to do although it would take some planning and a keen eye as well as good timing. Visiting locations that are suitable for this type of photography and closely studying possibilities is the first starting point.
Depending on the location, the time of day, the availability of "passive subjects", it may take some time to complete.
In essence the project entails having one single person that is standing still and posing for you while everyone else around that model is either running or walking.
To capture the effect correctly your model has to remain very still so that the image shows her or him very clearly. The rest of the incidental subjects will look as blurs.
This often happens naturally but you have to be very attentive and lucky at the same time. Then you face the task of capturing the photograph of a still subject without his or her knowledge. It's always better to use a model.
The project faces some difficulties since you have to have a location where people normally pass by and your subject has to be in a visible and unobstructed line of sight to the camera.
To capture both a standing still subject and blur at the same time you need to set your gear on a stable surface like a sturdy tripod and you also need to set a slow shutter speed.
This must be done manually since if you set your camera to automatic the ambient light will probably choose a shutter speed too fast to blur the images of the moving subjects.
You can also do a variation of the technique by photographing a subject which is moving slower than the rest of the other subjects enclosed within the scene.
An example would be a walking person framed against others who are running, or a slow moving car next to much faster ones.This closely mimics the technique of panning a shot.
Also useful is to pre-focus on the main subject and to use a wide aperture which trows most everything that is beyond the main subject into out of focus highlights.
A good shutter speed will probably be around 1/15 of a second. Keep in mind that because of the slowness of the shutter, your main subject will show as overexposed. This adds a surreal effect and you can leave the image as it is.
Experiment with various shutter speeds, apertures and locations and take plenty of shots to see which compositions and speed/aperture ratios work better.
You can also edit the photo by using a digital editing program like Photoshop and darken the main subject only while leaving the others as they originally appear or you can do the reverse; leave the model alone and darken the others.
It helps if you can place your subject on a raised platform in relation to the rest of the people around it.
These images can be used by many photographic stock houses and for other photography publications as well. Keep your images as simple as possible. Although the essence is to show people, and lots of them, surrounding one totally still individual, you should avoid picking a scene that has too many elements that can interfere with the rest of the scene. In other words, making the scene seem cluttered.
Avoid spots with lots of light posts, intrusive ladders, walls, signs, trees, benches and so on. Simplicity works best so far as the project is concerned.
Also try to choose a location that has some color to it. A scene which is composed properly from a style point of view but lacks color, like an open area surrounded by grey buildings, can turn a good photo technique into a dull one simply because of the absence of color.
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© 2012 Luis E Gonzalez