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Photographing Objects in Motion

There are a couple of schools of thought on photographing objects in motion. The recipe for a perfect exposure can be obtained in many ways. You can choose a small aperture (large f-stop number) to get a huge depth of field, or you can choose a fast shutter speed, which means a large aperture (small f-stop number) when you want to freeze motion.

Many people like to use a fast shutter speed and freeze the motion of the subject they are photographing. Freezing motion creates a dynamic picture, such as when photographing a bird catching its dinner. Use a shutter speed of 1/500 of a second or faster when photographing a subject such as an eagle in flight when you’re zoomed in tight with a telephoto lens.

Use an even faster shutter speed of 1/2000 of a second to freeze the motion of a hummingbird flapping its wings. The telephoto lens magnifies any movement, which results in a less than sharp image if you don’t choose a fast enough shutter speed.


There’s another school of thought when photographing subjects in motion. This technique shows the beauty of motion, yielding a subject that is in sharp focus with a blurred background. This is known as panning with your subject.


When you photograph some subjects, you want to express the beauty of motion in an abstract manner. Fast-moving wildlife or birds are great subjects when you want to create an artistic depiction of motion. To achieve this goal, use a slow shutter speed.

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