Hello everyone! I hope you are enjoying the onset of spring. I thought I'd share a quick tip on getting creative with camera movement. I was teaching a workshop a few weeks ago and taught a group of beginners how to do this technique. They were shocked about how easy and fun it was to do...once they got their cameras out of "Auto" mode!  This technique is something that cameras simply will not let you do in auto mode under normal shooting conditions because the camera is trying everything it can to prevent blurry images. But in this case, that's our goal!

Let's get blurry and have some fun!

Here's how it's done followed by a few examples.

This can be achieved hand held or on a tripod with the head loose to allow fluid movement. 

Start by finding something in even light with repeating patterns. This is tough and pretty difficult to get a good result if the light is broken and harsh. A shady area or an overcast day work best. Look for stands of trees, long grass, architectural lines in cities, clumps of flowers with long stems, etc...

Next, set your camera up so that you can get an exposure of 1/2 second to around a full second. There's not an exact number that works for all subjects and you'll have to experiment a bit. Put the camera in Manual shooting mode and turn off Auto ISO and autofocus. You can use autofocus to achieve the initial focus if you have trouble focusing in manual, but turn it off just before the exposure so autofocus does not try to achieve focus while the camera is moving.  Lower your ISO as low as it will go, stop down your aperture to f/18 or smaller, and see if that gets you the shutter speed you're looking for. If it's too bright and you can't get a slow enough shutter speed, use your polarizer or a neutral density filter to make the whole scene darker and then adjust your settings accordingly. 

Turn on your 2 second timer if you have one or use a remote. Pressing the shutter button can create a jerky appearance in the final image instead of smooth lines. I will usually turn on my timer, count one second in my head and then start panning the camera up before the shutter opens and continuing the fluid motion after the shutter closes. This helps you get used to the motion while avoiding possible zig zags or mismatched lines. You can also move in a downward motion, or even side to side depending on the subject. Zoom in on your subject, pan slower, pan faster, and try different shutter speed and ISO combinations to get the "look" you're going for. IT takes a little practice. 

This image was taken at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens in Charleston, SC. It's bamboo. Shutter speed was One second. f/16, ISO 250. I had to bump the ISO to 250 because it was actually too dark in the bamboo forest to get the one second that I was looking for. I chose to include some of the dirt in the bottom of the image to act as a visual anchor which helps give it a sense of place. Shot on a tripod with the ball head loose.

This next image was taken at Shem Creek Park in Mount Pleasant, SC. The shutter speed here was 1/15 second. I did not have any filters with me and was just out for a walk with my mirrorless camera. I moved the camera up pretty fast to get the motion with that shutter speed.  Shot handheld. 


This next image was taken at Cypress Gardens in Moncks Corner, SC. I loved the reflections of the cypress trees and included the actual reflection in the movement. The shutter speed was 1/2 second at f/18. Shot on a tripod with the ball head loose.

I hope you have fun with this technique. It's great to play with on a windy day when normal macro or foliage photography is difficult. 

Have a great day!

Best of light to you all!


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