Blurring and freezing — Shutter speed and capturing motion – Photography 101

I wanted to practice using my camera’s shutter speed to capture motion, and I thought King’s Island Amusement Park was the perfect place to do it.

Panning – ISO 100 / f/8 / 1/30

I attempted to use a technique called panning on this photo. I used a slow shutter speed (1/30) and physically moved my camera with the object I was trying to capture. So as the merry-go-round went around, I turned my head and camera at approximately the same speed as the horse I was shooting. The background blurs, but the horse is in focus, sort of.

ISO 100 / f/9 / 1/13

This has an even slower shutter speed at 1/13. It just means the time that the aperture was open was longer, allowing more light in, but also capturing movement.

ISO 100 / f/22 / 1/8

In this case, I was trying to capture the motion by allowing it to blur at a slow shutter speed of 1/8.

ISO 100 / f/22 / 1/8

This one has even more blur, not because I changed the settings, but because the Scrambler was going around faster. You can see that the people in the background are pretty well in focus because they are mostly standing still.

ISO 800 / f/5.6 / 1/4000

These swings are actually moving around, but I froze the motion by using a very fast shutter speed at 1/4000. Because this speed didn’t allow very much time for light to enter the camera, I opened the aperture up to f/5.6, and changed the sensitivity of the receptor (ISO) to 800. The higher the ISO number, the less exposure to light the receptor needs. You might remember buying 100, 200 or 400 ISO film before digital cameras became so popular.

ISO 100 / f/16 /1/60

I wanted more motion or blur, so I changed the shutter speed to 1/60, which is a lot longer speed than the above photo was taken with. I had to change the ISO and f-stop accordingly, or the picture would have gotten too much light, turned out very dark, and been over exposed.

ISO 1600 / f/9 / 1/800

I froze the motion of this fast roller coaster called the Vortex, by using a fast shutter speed of 1/800.

ISO 100 / f/29 / 1/30

And I blurred the motion of the cars going around the loop by using a slow shutter speed of 1/30. Again, I had to reduce the sensitivity of the ISO, and close the aperture to a 1/29 so as not to get too much light into the camera.

ISO 1600 / f/14 / 1/800

I froze the motion here, but this photo also points out a problem I was having with the exposure. The camera has to be able to measure how much light is out there so it can know how to adjust the settings. If I change the shutter speed, the camera automatically adjusts the f-stop so that the picture has the right exposure. (I could adjust everything manually if I wanted to, but why?) The camera measures the amount of light by metering. I’m going to talk more about this later. The problem I was having was that the sky was so very bright, the people on the car did not come out clearly or with much detail.

You can really see the problem with this photo. The sky is so light, it caused the meter to read the scene as a very light location. You can see detail in the clouds, but the leaves and ride came out almost black. The camera didn’t have enough time to gather the information from these darker objects.

In this picture the people are a lot more detailed because the surrounding area is about the same brightness as they are. It has to do with the way the camera meters the light and I’m learning how to better control this. More later.

ISO 1600 / f/18 / 1/500

Another frozen shot with a fast shutter speed. I did a better job of metering the light on this one so that the people in the car are visible. Can you see how this roller coaster doesn’t have actual cars to contain the passengers? Each person has their own little seat with a small toadstool in front.

Not in a million years.

ISO 1600 / f/13 / 1/500

This is as close as I will likely ever get to this big boy.

I enjoy the roller coasters very much from my viewpoint on the ground.

You can read more posts about photography at my Photography 101 page under my Series tab.


19 thoughts on “Blurring and freezing — Shutter speed and capturing motion – Photography 101”

    1. I like the effect of panning, but I think it works better when the object you’re following is moving in a linear fashion instead of circular. After I thought about it, I was surprised it worked at all on the merry-go-round because the background was also moving.

    1. Thanks. This was an exercise we did in our photography class. Sometimes it’s more fun for me to set out with a more well-defined purpose than just to try to take a beautiful photo (although I could use a lot of work on doing that alone.) 🙂

  1. This is very cool — and I love your photos. Especially the last one of the roller coaster, and me looking at your photo is the closest I’LL ever get to that bad boy! YIKES! (My husband LOVES those kinds of rides, however!)

  2. I particularly like the up-close merry-go-round photo, Christine. You dearly enjoy teaching people through your posts, don’t you? There is always a wealth of information here at your blog doorstep. 🙂


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