One of the things I head the most while traveling or at home is how people can improve their travel photography easily. This is the reason why I’m starting this series of posts giving you guys easy and quick photography tips that you can use anywhere.

Today we will be discussing one of my favorite and quick things to do that will make your photos pop in front of your friends and family: motion blur.




Photography Tips for travelers: How to take pictures with Motion Blur

Bucharest overview – How to take pictures with Motion Blur

Motion Blur: What’s that?

First of all, lets understand what is this so called motion blur. Motion blur is basically capturing movement in images.

Motion blur is the ability to control the blurriness in your photos and use it to give the sensation of movement in a still image.

Here are some examples of photos using this technique:

Great locations for you to test this technique are subways, the coast or anywhere you have a lot of water movement,  playgrounds and carnivals with their spinning and moving things, streets at day and night with cars and people, parks and bike lanes, live concerts, bars and disco clubs… Basically everywhere you have lots of movement but have something still to make the contrast.

And it sounds way more complicated than it actually is, ok?  I will show you now how you can do that with your camera and phone.

How can I do that, Marcela?

The reason for motion blur is simply that the amount of time that the shutter of a camera is open is long enough to allow your camera’s image sensor to ‘see’ the movement of your subject.

In other words, to have motion, you need to decrease the speed of your shutter a bit, ok? For beginners, I recommend the use of a tripod or a hard surface you can leave your camera or phone 100% still.

Motion blur using your camera

First I will show you how you can do this in a DSLR then I will explain how to achieve the same effect in your phone. What I tell here about DSLR can be used for point&shoot cameras as long as you can adjust the speed, ISO and aperture values in the menu or something.

If you have a DSLR  you need to start photographing in manual. This is mandatory for getting great at photography. You camera is not connected to your brain, so it will never know what you want exactly every time you press the shutter.

You need to tell your camera what do you need and what do you want. Besides, you’re wasting the potential of your equipment and the money you invested every single time you use the automatic.

Well, now that you’re on manual, you need to decrease the speed of your shutter, ok? Every situation demands a different value. A moving turtle and a moving speed bike will give you very different results at the same shutter speed. Until you can ~feel~ what’s right, you need to make some tests.

Usually for photographing fasts avenues that cars are passing by around 60km/h or more, I use my speed lower than 1/5. The slower you can have it, the more traces of light the cars will make in your photo. I did the 1st photo of this post using my MeFoto BackPacker because it is really light and doesn’t get in the way of traveling light, but you can use whatever you have.

For the photos on Carturesti Carusel, I used something around 3 sec. Why? Because people move slower than cars, so I needed more time than the previous situations.

Do some tests and please share the results with me so I can help you getting the perfect shot!

Motion blur using your phone

The  principle is the same everywhere, only the tool is different.

Remember the post we did a few weeks ago about the apps for great photography? If you don’t please read it here. The first app we suggested was the app called Manual.

Manual is an iPhone app and it is totally worth how much it costs.
With it you turn your boring I-have-no-control-of-anything iPhone’s camera into a full custom exposure camera.

Manual gives you the complete control of ISO, aperture, shutter speed, white balance and more. With this app you can try some motion blur technique in your iPhone photos!

But since we own iPhones and never tested any apps for Androids, I do not know an app to suggest you guys. Sorry for that and my bad, but I will only give you products that I 100% tested and 100% approved.

If you’re an Android user and know a great app that can give you the same controls, please leave it as a comment here! Or if you’re an iPhone user and have another suggestion, same! Feel free to complete this post as you like.


Now you know that taking pictures using motion Blur is not as complicated as it looks like. Until next time, with more Photography Tips!



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