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Articale by Shotaddict

Photographing sports means taking shots of moving objects. And when shooting the moving objects you can try to follow the object, synchronously moving your camera after it. Such method allows you to concentrate attention on the object movement.


There are two techniques of shooting moving objects:

* to get a picture with the blurred background being in motion, while the object of shooting remains still and clear.
* to show movement, making a dynamic object look blurred, but such an artistic technique is rarely used.

So, we will write about the first technique. In order to receive such a picture during shooting, you need to know the basics of composition and understand an interaction of shutter speed and diaphragm. This article will touch upon the principles of taking pictures of cars in motion. Basically, the same method applies to people shooting, but in a much easier way.

1. Shutter speed

Shutter speed is actually everything you need during the moving object shooting. If you shoot in the TV mode, you can always be sure in the effect of background blurring. The right shutter speed is selected depending on the speed of object movement. Besides, it always depends on how much of blur you want to have in the background. The average value of shutter speed should be 1/30. For cars it's faster - 1/60 or even 1/125. For walking people it's about 1/25 or 1/15.

2. Diaphragm

As you know, diaphragm is directly connected with shutter speed. In this case we work with
relatively long shutter speeds, which leads to a big diaphragm. This is not a problem, anyway, because a big amount of DOF will help us keep many details in the shot, and prevent in some way from the autofocus failures.
Using the AV mode you risk to get a variety of shutter speed values from 1/15 up to 1/60 (for example, if a large dark or white truck passes in the background).


3. A Tripod

If you shoot any movement, a tripod (or monopod) will help you to get rid of vertical motion blur, ensuring camera rotation only in vertical surface.

4. Auto focus

When shooting in the moving object, the best results can be achieved with the help of predictive auto focusing. Canon names it AI Servo mode, Nikon — Continuous servo AF mode. As you may know, camera focuses on the central focusing zone in the best possible way. That is why, it is better to use predictive focus tracking while people shooting, than car shooting. It is easier to keep the focus on a face, than on the fast moving single-colored object, that makes the focusing system's work quite complicated, but possible.


It is quite handy to use manual focus during car shooting. It helps to eliminate auto focusing failures, but it demands some experience from a photographer. In order to use it, set the right sharpness on the place, where the car will be passing by, and when it is in the exact position - press the release button.

5. Serial shooting

Serial shooting is when you keep the release button and the camera takes shots one by one. Sometimes you may find it really helpful.  But why only sometimes? For example, when you see a car flying by, a bit of a second may be enough to catch the right image, but in the other moment - you just won't fit into the shot framing.
But if you shoot with manual focus or using a predictive focus, serial shooting really helps to take the best shot.


6. Stabilizers

Frankly, using a stabilizer won't help you a lot, but if you have it - it won't be unnecessary, for sure. Movement of the camera on a tripod is not ideally smooth, and is usually accompanied by minor jerks. So if you don't shoot with a tripod or a stabilizer - most probably you'll receive vertical vibrations, while a stabilizer will bring down those effects and make your shot more smooth.

7. Contrast

Try to highlight the moving object in the shot not only due to movement, but also with the help of the light or color contrast.

Choose such a place of shooting, so that the background behind a car would be white, or even illuminated by sun. If you set your focusing point for the central part of the image, try to take pictures of the dark cars only. Your camera shall measure the light against the dark object, while the background shall be overexposed. In the end you will receive a clear shot with the car in the white background, leaving an impression of movement. Have a look at the next example.


The picture of that car was taken from the mid-distance at the focal length of 70mm, shutter speed 1/30. As you see, the DOF is not too high, and the car looks sharp being close to the center of the shot, while you can see the blurring effect close to the edges. At the shutter speed 1/30 you won't receive a large DOF value, also shooting with the high focal length influence it.

8. Have more practice

And again we remind you, that you will have lots of unsuccessful shots, but your final result shall depend on your experience, rather than on some tools such as a tripod or a stabilizer, for example. The most important thing is to learn the feeling of motion in the image, and with a regular practice you'll be able to create really nice pictures.