Nov 04, 2014

How to Freeze Motion in Natural Light

Freezing Motion in Natural Light

Freezing motion can be incredibly useful in photography because it will allow you to create images that the human eye cannot. By utilizing shutter speed, cameras can freeze a tiny moment in time perfectly.

Close your eyes, blink quickly, and close them again.You will see an flash of an image, but only for a moment. In a nutshell, shutter speed works the same way your eyes do. You can control how long the shutter stays open, which dictates what that image will look like.

  • Long shutter speeds = motion blur
  • Short shutter speed = no motion blur

What your shutter speed will be has everything to do with what you are photographing. Slow moving subjects will not need as much of an intense shutter speed to catch them in motion. Fast moving subjects, however, will.

Be aware that you must have enough available light to shoot with a fast shutter speed! If you crank up the speed but don’t change anything else, you will likely get a very dark and underexposed image.

  • Fast shutter speed = Less light enters the camera

The easiest way to shoot fast moving objects is in Shutter Speed Priority Mode. In this mode, the aperture and ISO are chosen according to what the shutter speed needs to be. As long as you are okay with being flexible in those areas, this is a great option for shooting.

  • Canon = TV
  • Nikon = S

Here is a chart to help with visualizing the difference between slow and fast shutter speeds. As you can see, a slow speed like 1/60 will allow for plenty of motion blur. A speed like 1/2000, however, is very fast and will freeze even the fastest cheetah.





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  • user image

    This is useful information for those who do not have a full grasp on photography. It also helps refresh the memory of those who have been at it for a long time

  • user image

    Good and simple explanation of the usage of shutter speed! Great job Aaron!

    When I’m not riding myself, I take a lot of high-action kiteboarding photos. It all depends on the day but I typically will put my camera into Shutter Priority (Tv) and go for 1/1250th of a second. It’s usually just about perfect. When shooting kiteboarding, I generally (but not always) shoot anywhere between f/8 and f/16 and I will use my ISO to get me to the aperture that I want.

    These are my recommendations for shooting photos of kiteboarders. It will be different than shooting other action sports, such as windsurfing. The best thing you can do is get out there and try it! Figure out what works best for your situation.

    Oh and I almost forgot another important tip for action sports stuff. You must put your camera into a continuing focus mode (AI SERVO on Cannon). It helps alot!

  • user image

    I don’t fully understand how my camera works. It sounds weird because I use it almost every day, but Aperture and Shutter Speed confuses me a bit. Not sure really where they are on my camera. I just try to make sure the indicator shows that it’s in the middle when I shoot. lol Could you make a quick tips video showing where they are and what they do on a canon camera? I have a 6D.. Thank you.

  • user image

    Depending on the type of effect you are going for, you have to be aware of the relative speed of different parts of your subject. For instance, a person swinging a bat may not seem to be moving very fast, but the end of the bat is moving very quickly. A shutter speed of 1/250 may freeze the batter but you’ll see the bat blur because of it’s higher relative speed. That may provide the effect you want to help suggest “motion” in your still image; however, if you want to freeze the entire scene you would need to shoot faster — say 1/1000.

  • user image
    Jody Thompson

    Has the Part 2 episode of freezing motion indoors been created yet? Where can I view it?

    • user image
      Aaron Leeper

      I am also unable to find it. I have looked on YouTube and the Phlearn site.
      Thanks Aaron. The Phlearn Phamily is a great learning environment that truly does make learning Photoshop and photography fun.
      PS I love the name.

  • user image

    Great tutorial as always. I’m watching this one a little late but better than never I guess. But…where is the second part?. I can’t find it. It seems like it was shooted at the same time than this one. I hope someone in phlearn can answer. Thanks for your really good videos.