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One Of My Favorite Photos Is Blurred - And Was Taken From A Moving Car

Updated on November 27, 2012

Blurred Pictures Don't Always Have To Be A Bad Thing - Some People Call It Motion Photography

Taking a good photo worthy of hanging up on a wall that has motion in it can be a lot harder than you think, but every once in a while - success!

This lens is going to focus on one of my most successful attempts at photo motion photography. I'm going to go over the story of how I came to take it as well as the methods used. My hope is that you will come away with a better understanding on how to capture motion (taking blurry pictures) that you can be proud of.

It's a good feeling when you take a picture (even a spooky one like this) that you're proud to have framed and put on the wall. The good news is that anyone can do it; it may just take a little work.

Photo used in this lens by Mark Morrow / YellowHammer.

The Story Of My Motion Night Photo

The house that is the focal point of the picture was one that I passed on a regular basis each morning on my way to school. One morning I had to get up particularly early to do a project and passed it while still dark. The property always caught my attention, but this was the first time seeing it at night. The owners kept it well lit with outdoor lighting, which made it stick out since there was no other light sources even close to it. It looked magnificent.

At first I tried the usual method of taking pics of it on a tripod from the road and while they turned out nice, they didn't have the energy I wanted. I wracked my brain trying to figure out other ways to get a more unique shot of the house, but it wasn't until a large truck passed by that the idea came to me - take it from inside my vehicle. Now that the hard part was over, all I had to worry about was the practical aspects of taking pictures at night.


Camera Settings

Camera Model: Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi

F-Stop: f/4

Exposure Time: 10 seconds

ISO: 200

Focal Length: 28 mm

Taking The Picture

The hardest part about taking the picture was finding the right speed in which to drive by the house (and from which direction to take it from). We drove by the house 10 different times at speeds ranging from 15 mph - 50 mph. Although I thought I had a good shot by looking at the preview, I wouldn't know for sure until I opened them up on my computer. This version was taken at 35 mph.

Editing The Photo

The only thing I did to the image in Photoshop was to adjust the levels to make the darks a little darker and sharpen the image. As you see from below, I also made a black and white version. That's it.

You might think the streaks of lights were added by me, but you'd be wrong. They are from other trucks and vehicles that passed in front of my camera while taking the shot. The squiggly line in the middle was created by my purposely jiggling the camera a little bit around the 5 second mark (street lights).


Which version of the picture do you like best?

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Think you might want an art print of the photo used in this lens? Check out the link below.

Fine Art America / Mark Morrow

Photography Tips On How To Get Motion In Your Photos - From inside a car; a moving car - at night.

  • Have someone else do the driving (ignore this one at your own risk).
  • Use a tripod to steady the camera at the beginning of your shot. Make sure it is focused on the main subject. From then on out, you can decide on whether to move it any. If you don't have a tripod, try your best to hold camera still by bracing it somehow with arm.
  • Make sure camera is secured somehow to your body. At high speeds, you'd be surprised at how much easier it is for it to be blown out of your hands.
  • Try to get the shot at a time when there isn't much traffic.
  • Write down in a notebook how fast you are going for each shot. You could also take a quick pic of the speedometer before taking the main shot, as well.

The Tripod That Saved This Shot

I first tried using a traditional tripod to take this shot, but found it too big and constantly in my way. I borrowed one of these from a friend of mine and found it to be the perfect solution. It's basically a short tripod with flexible legs that can wrap around stuff. I bought one for myself a short time after using his.

JOBY GorillaPod SLR Zoom. Flexible Tripod with Ballhead Bundle for DSLR and Mirrorless Cameras Up To 3kg. (6.6lbs).
JOBY GorillaPod SLR Zoom. Flexible Tripod with Ballhead Bundle for DSLR and Mirrorless Cameras Up To 3kg. (6.6lbs).
This version is for those who shoot with the heavier DSLR's and zoom lenses (up to 6 lbs). A very good, well-built piece of equipment that most photographers will find a use for. Highly recommended. Oh, and by the way, there are more versions of the GorillaPod that can handle even more weight, if you need them.

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