It's time once again for a new monthly photography challenge. In April, you were tasked with building yourself an online gallery and sharing it with us.
Great job to those of you who participated. I heard from a couple of you that it was just the push you needed to get going, so you're welcome! I'll announce the winner a little later, scroll down.
But now, the topic for the next photography challenge is…
Capture a Moving Subject
There are two ways approach photographing a moving subject.
- Use a fast shutter speed and freeze all motion.
- Use a slower shutter speed and allow the subject to be partially or fully blurred due to motion.
Here is an example of each style. The image on the left (below) shows blur and was shot at 1/60th, and the one on the right is frozen shot at 1/600th of a second.
Find a subject
Recently I had the opportunity to photograph a Pow Wow.
If you've never been to one or aren't familiar with what it is – it's basically a gathering of different tribes of Native Americans (First Nations People). It usually includes a parade or grand entry, dance competition with drumming, food, and vendors who offer hand-made goods typical of their tribes like mocassins, pemican, and intricately beaded pieces.
I've always wanted to go to a Pow Wow – I just love the colorful outfits and energetic abilities of the dancers. I managed to get myself a good sunburn by shooting for almost 8 hours but I had a great time.
Your first task then is to find an event or something with lots of activity like this one so you can practice and do the challenge. Look in your local schedule of events for festivals, parades, or sporting activities. Go to something you've never seen before, try something new.
Experiment with the shutter speed
Once you have a subject you get to decide if you want to freeze them or capture some intentional motion blur. I suggest you try both!
Do some shots using a really fast shutter speed. You may need to experiment a bit to find the right setting. I suggest starting at 1/500th and increase it (to 1/1000th, 1/2000th or faster) if you find there is still some blur.
Then go the other way. Decrease the shutter speed to 1/250th, 1/125th or slower and see what happens. If your subject has any faster moving parts like flowing clothing, their arms or legs, spinning things, etc., those bits will be the first thing to blur.
Look at the two images below. Every part of the subjects are sharp including all the twirling ribbons on her dress, and the guy is frozen in midair. Move your mouse over the images to see the exposure settings on each.
At the pow wow I played with my shutter speed quite a bit. Many of the costumes and outfits had long fringes and some of the dancers were spinning a stick with feathers on the end. Notice in the image of the girls twirling, below, that they are mostly frozen but the ends of the ribbons show some blur from movement. That is because they are moving faster.
When I slowed the shutter speed a little the ends started to blur, and the slower I went eventually everything was one big blurry blob. But sometimes you can create a really cool abstract image this way – so don't be afraid of it.
I wanted to find the sweet spot between having a blob and having everything tack sharp. So I just played around and shot lots of images until I got what I wanted in both varieties – all sharp and some motion blur.
Here are two images of the same subject with different looks due to the shutter speed.
If you aren't sure where to begin, here are some camera setting starting points. Keep in mind this is just a place to start, you need to take a few shots, assess them and tweak the settings to get what you want. It will vary depending on the amount of light, the subject's movement and the effect you want create.
- ISO – Start with either ISO 400 if shooting outdoors or ISO Auto. I use auto ISO all the time, but I set up the parameters and limits for it so it does what I want. I set it to use a maximum ISO of 3200, and a minimum shutter speed of 1/250th. But I have three settings for Auto ISO and can set three different limits which I use for other things. Set your upper ISO limit as high as you can go for your camera. You may need it if the lighting is dim and you want a fast shutter speed.
- Shooting Mode – I usually shoot in Aperture Priority but for stuff like this I shift to Shutter Priority. So set your camera on S (Tv for Canon) and then you can dial in the shutter speed you want, faster or slower, and the camera will pick the aperture needed for a good exposure. This is when Auto ISO really works well because you don't have to worry about hitting a limit and dark photos, the camera will increase the ISO as needed for you.
- Turn on the Image Stabilization (IS/VR) in your lens or camera.
- Focus Points – Use zone or a wide multi-point focus mode. This will allow the camera to choose the focus point which makes it easier to photograph a moving target.
- Focus Mode – Use Continuous or AF-C Focus Mode (AI Servo for Canon) which will allow the camera to track and continue focusing on the subject as it moves.
- Drive Mode – Shoot in continuous or burst mode so when you press the shutter button to fire the camera, it takes several frames in rapid succession. How many depends on your camera, but doing this will help you capture the peak of action better.
For more in getting sharper images, read this; 6 Tips for Finding Focus and Getting Sharp Images
The challenge and how to enter
In order to participate in this challenge and be eligible for this prize you need to:
- Find and photograph some moving subjects – this is to get you out shooting and maybe out of your comfort zone. So if this feels hard for you – do it anyway!
- Share some of your images of moving subjects in the comment area below.
- Enter by June 30th, 2019. You'll have 6 weeks to practice this and enter this challenge.
NOTE: please do NOT save your images as TIF (they will be too big to add in the comments, it must be under 2mb) and please do NOT email your images to me for critique. I cannot give personal critiques by email, leave your images below and I will comment there.
Also, if you do NOT fulfill all the steps above your entry will not be valid.
After July 1st one winner from all the eligible entries will be randomly selected and the prize awarded. Keep reading to learn more about what you could win.
The winner of the gallery challenge is…
Drumroll please, and the winner of last month's challenge to build yourself an online gallery is – Jennifer Butt. Congratulations Jennifer. If I haven't already gotten a hold of you please send me a note using our contact form so I can get your email address to send you the prize of a one-year membership to Smugmug's Power Plan.
Thanks again to Smugmug for sponsoring this challenge. If you are still interested in getting an account and making yourself a gallery you can get 15% off if you use this link to sign up (or click the Smugmug logo).
This month's prize
This month the winner will have a choice of prizes between:
- Our 4 Weeks to Better Photography online course (retail value $29-49)
- My Lightroom Presets (retail value $29)
If you enjoyed this month's challenge and want more practice and learning. You can sign up for one of our free products:
- Email mini-course for beginners – a series of emails that will help you learn some of the basics of your camera and exposure.
- 10 Photography Challenges ebook – this PDF gives you 10 exercises and challenges to work on to help you improve your photography without having to buy new gear.
To see all my images from the pow wow click play below and watch the slideshow.