creating motion blur

In many situations you may to create motion where there is very little or maybe the subject needs an injection of excitement in the images. I use these methods to create motion at weddings and events when sometimes the background or subjects can be a little less than exciting. You can use these in action portraits too a great way to create in camera rather than in post processing.

In this blog post we shall assume you are dragging the shutter, slow shutter speeds, maybe under 1/80, rear sync with your flash and a zoom lens is attached, if you don’t have a zoom then you can skip the zoom method and jump straight to the Twitch Method.

Rear sync will set your flash off at the time just before the shutter curtain goes down, thus freezing the action right at the last moment. This is how the blur will be created because we are going to exaggerate the motion before the flash and curtain finishes, which will blur everything before the flash goes and then freezes at the last moment.

I’d add that it’s always useful using a flash modifier to defuse some of the light, such as MagMod Magsphere.

zoom method

You can start at a wide angle and then push the zoom in closer to the subject as you release the shutter but be mindful of keeping the subject in the center of the frame. As you zoom everything outside of the center will be blurred in a forward motion. You may need to use slow sync rather than rear sync for the zoom but depends on your shutter speed.

twitch method

You can use this method with a prime lens (fixed focal distance) or a zoom but with this method we keep to one focal length at all times. For the twitch method hold the camera and imagine holding a steering wheel, one hand will go up and the other will go down around the wheel as if avoiding something on the road, but in a microscopic way. So from holding at 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock you move to 2 o’clock and 8 o’clock

This method is a little trickier as you have to make sure your subject is on the same twitch point on your lens. That might sound confusing but what that means is the point of which you twitch the camera in a circular motion needs to be at the same point where your subject is in the frame.

So if you get that wrong you could be missing your subject, getting something else in focus and your subject will be blurred out. This method does take some practice.


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