Motion for the people

(6/26/14) 14-year-old Thaila Kong with the Village Oaks Stingers swims in a relay race at a swim meet between the Stingers and the Quail Lakes Barracudas at the Village Oaks pool in Stockton. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE STOCKTON RECORD]

From trying to take pictures of a swiftly moving mountain stream to images of your dog romping through the grass at a park to a baseball pitcher throwing a fastball, getting pictures of things that are moving have always been a challenge for the beginning photographer. There are 3 basic “rules” for capturing motion in a photograph.

(4/12/7/08) Water flows from the fountain at Budd Center at Delta College in Stockton. LEFT: The water is frozen by a fast shutter speed of 1/500th of a second. RIGHT: The water is blurred by a slow shutter speed of 1/8th of a second. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE STOCKTON RECORD]
(7/17/15) Deanna Brazil with the North Lake Lappers swims in a girls 12-under 100 IM heat at the San Joaquin Summer Swim Alliance 2015 Championship meet held at St. Mary’s High School’s Cortopassi Swim Complex in Stockton. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE STOCKTON RECORD]

The first is the easiest to understand. By using a fast shutter speed you can stop the motion of fast moving objects. It is what most photographers use to capture sports action of high school to professional athletes. The faster speed you use, the more you will freeze the movement. The minimum you should use for this technique is 1/500th of a second. At that speed even top athletes will be stopped, though there might be some blurring of fast moving appendages. Beyond about 1/000th to 1/2000th, of a second the benefits diminish. Most DSLR and mirrorless cameras can easily reach these speeds. A high shutter speed also has an added benefit of eliminating blurring caused by camera shake.

LEFT: (10/22/11) Water flows along the Calaveras River near the Trail of the Skulls at the base of New Hogan Dam in Valley Springs. A fast shutter speed of 1/500th of a second stops the motion of the water. RIGHT: (2/10/12) The middle fork of the Mokelumne River flows westward through West Point. A slow shutter speed of 1-second blurs the motion of the aster. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE STOCKTON RECORD]

Using a slow shutter speed can also convey a sense of motion but in a different way. In this approach anything that’s moving will be blurred. The slower you set your camera, the more blur you will get, However, if you go too slow then the object in motion can blur to the point of near invisibility. It’s always a good idea to include something that’s non-moving and sharp in the frame as a point of reference to give some context to the photo. Camera shake can be a problem, especially at the slower speeds. A tripod is recommended to keep the camera still.

LEFT: (9/11/15) Nemo Arisen, jockeyed by Juan Arriaga, right, holds off Nikita Jen with jockey Hugo Herrera to win the third race on the first day of horse racing at the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds in Stockton. The motion of the horses and jockeys are stopped by a fast shutter speed of 1/1000th of a second. RIGHT: (6/17/11) Truffle In Paradise, ridden by jockey Diego R. Sanchez, right, is chased at the finish by Warren’s Rock Art jockeyed by Catalino Martinez in Friday’s third race at the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds racetrack in Stockton. Warren’s Rock Art came from behind to win the race. A panning technique was used. Note that the horses and jockeys are sharp but the background is blurred by the motion of the camera. CLIFFORD OTO/THE STOCKTON RECORD
LEFT: (4/5/18) Stockton Ports’ Jesus Luzardo delivers a pitch on the Ports’ opening day against the Lake Elsinore Storm at the Stockton Ballpark in downtown Stockton. A fast shutter speed of 1/1000th of a second stops the motion of Luzardo. RIGHT: The background as well as the pitcher’s extremities are blurred but his face is sharp due to a panning technique. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE STOCKTON RECORD]

The third is a little more complicated and takes some practice to master. It’s called panning and it involves moving the camera along with the action while using a relatively slow shutter speed. For example, say a horse is galloping in from your left. Using a shutter speed of 1/125th to 1/30th of a second, follow the action and shoot as the horse speeds past you. It takes a lot of practice to get the timing just right but when done well it can be very effective in conveying a sense of action and motion. As anytime when you use a slow shutter, the use of a monopod or tripod is advisable.

TOP: (9/19/15) Members of the Ballet Folklorico de Frank Zapata perform a traditional dance at UOP’s Faye Spanos Concert Hall in Stockton. BOTTOM LEFT: (6/15/19) The North’s Nash Satnat of Escalon, left, tackles the South’s Steffin Winston of Denair in the 46th annual Central California Lions All-Star Football Game at Lincoln High’s Spanos Stadium in Stockton. BOTTOM RIGHT: (8/2/08) Baker, Oakland Police officer Al Liwanag’s police dog, runs to attack a suspect during in the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s annual K-9 trial at Madison Park in Stockton. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE STOCKTON RECORD]

From sports to zooming pets to the movement of dancers these techniques can be used on anything that’s in motion.

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