Moving Fast? Slow Things Down!

Canon G10 Landscape RigConveying a sense of movement in a landscape or nature photograph can be a real challenge for amateur photographers.

Professional sports shooters do this almost instinctively by panning with the action using a slower shutter speed. Take a look in almost any auto magazine like “Car & Driver” and you’ll see what I mean. The cars will be in perfect focus while the background is all a blur suggesting speed, movement or motion.

So how do we capture this feeling of motion with a stationary camera and a moving subject like water? The answer is a little counter-intuitive for most but becomes second nature once you understand the technique. To capture that sense of movement in a landscape image you need to slow down your shutter speed and let the subject blur as it moves through the scene. Just the opposite of what the sports shooter do when panning.

Moving Fast

Moving Fast – Johnson City, Texas
Copyright © 2009 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon Powershot G10 set on full manual mode and tripod-mounted. The exposure was taken at 30mm, f/8 for 0.4 seconds using the built-in neutral density filter at ISO 80. Post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3 Beta. Click on the image above for a larger version.

 

To get you started with this technique using your Canon G9/G10/G11 you’ll need to enable the built in 3-stop ND filter:

  1. Press the Function/Set button to get to the Function menu.
  2. Use the Up arrow or Down arrow to highlight the ND icon.
  3. Use the Right or Left arrow to select ND (ND Filter On).
  4. Press the Function/Set button again to exit the menu.

Once that’s done you’re ready to shoot but here are a few tips to help you get the most out of this type of shot.

  • Set your G9/G10/G11 on Manual (M) mode. You’ll need a shutter speed of at least 1/4 second to create the sense of motion in the water. The longer the shutter speed the better the shot will look.
  • Use a tripod to eliminate camera shake when using the built in ND filter.
  • Use a Canon RS60-E3 remote cable release with the PowerShot G9/G10/G11 or the Self-Timer to activate the shutter and eliminate even more camera shake.
  • Always use a circular polarizer to eliminate glare in the water and to add color depth to your images. My previous post explains how to “trick out” your G9/G10/G11 for landscape shooting.
  • Experiment with your compositions. Adding a stationary object like a rock in the middle of the river helps convey that sense of motion. Have some fun by trying a diagonal composition.

7 thoughts on “Moving Fast? Slow Things Down!

  1. I like the fact that you didn’t slow the motion so much for the photo that the sense of motion is lost. I dislike many silky-smooth photos because they lose all implication of moving water.

    • Great shot Jeff, I came accross your site while researching the G11, which I have now talked myself into. Can I ask what post procesing you did in Lightroom?

      Again, excellent shot, I will take some time to check out your Flickr,

      Keith

      • Keith,

        Thanks for reading. My LR workflow is pretty basic. I cropped the image to achieve the composition I wanted and then added some “Vibrance” & “Clarity” using the “Punch” preset and some sharpening using the “Sharpen – Landscape” preset. I played around with the “HSL” sliders to tweak some colors and then added a slight vignette to darken the corners. All in all, it took only a few minutes.

        Jeff

  2. I am going to break down and buy one of those little Canons…I’ve already talked my brother into getting one.
    Beautiful image, too.

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