Motion is something you deal with every day. This makes motion blur photography the perfect subject for surreal, thoughtful, and educational images.
Usually, photographers try to get tack-sharp images. But what happens when they intentionally use a slower shutter speed?
Incredible Examples of Motion Blur Photography
Here are 50 examples of what you can achieve with the help of a slow shutter speed, a tripod, and patience.
50. Use Storytelling Techniques to Draw Attention
Motion blur is very fun to photograph. But it can lack meaning if you don’t have a story to tell. This doesn’t mean that every motion blur photo has to be deep or conceptual in any way.
If you want to give yourself a challenge, try to use motion to tell a story or emphasize a contrast.
The photo above is a great example of that. It seems as though the posters are telling the moving person to stop and look at them.
49. Capture the Busyness of City Life
Motion blur makes city life look vibrant and interesting. It also emphasizes the busyness of bustling cities.
You can recreate the effect above by standing still in a safe location and taking photos using a slow shutter speed. You can also take photos while crossing a street, but make sure your safety comes first.
48. Take Photos Straight From a Car
There’s no better way to capture motion than through a car window. Photos like this are perfect for lifestyle and travel enthusiasts. You can capture the joy of moving from place to place.
47. Take Eerie Photos of Moving People
If you’re a fan of surreal images, you can take faceless photos like this. These create anonymity and mystery. All you need is a model (preferably someone who’s willing to shake their head a lot), a tripod, and a slow shutter speed.
Once you press the shutter, tell your model to move one part of their body. This could be their head or hands, and it will create selective blur.
46. Use Long Exposure to Capture Different Movements
Using a very slow shutter speed and a tripod, take photos of people in museums, art galleries, or your own home.
This is a great way to document the simplicity of everyday life without having to take many pictures at once.
45. Use Motion Blur in Sports Photography
Sports photography is made up of elegant movements, making it the perfect genre for motion blur enthusiasts.
Photograph different sports to create images that look more like paintings than candid snapshots.
44. Turn Busy Streets Into Blurred Foregrounds
Instead of making motion blur your subject, use it as a foreground. You can easily do this on a street.
Making sure your subject is on the other side, photograph them from a low angle while cars pass by. This will create a colorful foreground and an appealing composition.
43. Move Your Camera as You Press the Shutter
We’re often told to hold still when we take photos, which is a rule that’s constantly broken in motion blur photography. If you want abstract results like this one, move your camera as much as you want as you press the shutter.
Take photos of large and colorful objects, like bridges, so that parts of your photo are recognizable.
42. Use Panning to Focus on One Subject
Panning is a motion blur technique that blurs everything but your subject. For this to work, your subject has to be moving fast and in a specific direction.
When you press the shutter, move the camera in the same direction as your subject.
This is a great technique for photographing transport and, in this case, skateboarders.
41. Take Thoughtful and Candid Photos in a Subway
To improve your candid photography and take stunning photos at the same time, take photos of people in busy locations. For unique results, photograph people in subways, especially when a train is arriving.
This is the perfect time to photograph thoughtful expressions and postures.
40. Photograph the Movements of Everyday Objects
Motion blur photography often focuses on people and places, but it’s also a great genre for photographing objects. Look for movements in your everyday life that have nothing to do with the city or people.
Drying laundry, trees moving in the wind, and animals hunting for food are all great subjects for unique motion blur photos.
39. Look for Tranquility in the Chaos of Everyday Life
Instead of focusing on the motion, focus on the quiet moments hidden in the noise.
Take photos of people reading, noticing your camera, and enjoying a quiet moment while being surrounded by constant motion.
38. Have a Colorful Photoshoot at an Amusement Park
Motion blur stands out a lot when it’s combined with vibrant colors. One of the best places to find it is in amusement parks.
Take photos of moving roller coasters and rides. You’ll have fun and take stunning pictures at the same time!
37. Photograph People Doing What They Love
To create more emotion in your pictures, photograph people who enjoy what they’re doing.
Maybe it’s playing the violin or dancing with friends. The movements that your subject creates will result in unusual motion blur patterns.
36. Convert Your Photos to Black & White for a Nostalgic Effect
Convert your motion blur photos to black and white to give them an old vintage camera effect.
Since many vintage photos feature some kind of motion blur, your photos will have a nostalgic feel to them.
35. Capture the Endless Joys of Childhood
Children are endlessly energetic and joyful. This makes them the perfect subjects for happy motion blur photos.
You can use panning and long exposure techniques as your subjects play, laugh, and interact with your camera.
34. Take Ethereal Photos of Dancers
For elegant motion blur, take photos of professional dancers.
If you want high-quality photos, have a photo shoot in a theatre or at an event. The lighting will emphasize your subject’s movements and give your photos a moody look.
33. Make Intentional Movements of Your Own
Instead of looking for movements outdoors, make your own at home.
You can do this by flipping through the pages of a book, dancing in front of the camera, or dropping something on the floor. (As long as it doesn’t break, you’re allowed to do this!)
32. Use Lens Filters to Enhance Your Results
There are many interesting filters you can use to enhance or complement the motion blur effect.
The star lens filter, as shown above, will make every light source in your image look like a star. Other ones you can use are infrared, graduated neutral density, and soft focus filters.
31. Photograph a Busy Location From a Distance
Find a peaceful location from which you can photograph an entire cityscape. This will allow you to focus on various movements in the same frame without making your composition look too busy.
Because you’ll be in a quiet location, you won’t have to worry about getting in anyone’s way.
30. Use a Slow Shutter Speed With Glow Sticks
When you want to have a little more fun, take photos of people playing with glow sticks. You can use the movements to create shapes, write words, or simply create random squiggles.
29. Photograph Architecture Surrounded by Motion Blur
If you want to enhance your architecture photography, take a few steps back and include motion blur in your shots.
The building will still be your main focus, but it will be complemented by a pleasant blur of people and transport.
28. Take Surreal Photos of Moving Shadows
Instead of photographing people, take photos of their moving shadows. This will give you a chance to think outside the box and take unusual photos at the same time.
You can also photograph silhouettes in a busy place, as pictured here.
27. Shoot From Very High Angles
It’s hard to appreciate the beauty of a city if you’re right in the middle of it. Find a location, such as a hill or a roof, where you can take stunning photos of light streaks from above.
26. Take Peaceful Photos of Waterfalls
Maybe noisy cities and urban photographs aren’t your things. But you can find just as many motion blur subjects out in nature. You can start by placing your camera on a tripod and taking photos of peaceful waterfalls.
The slower your shutter speed, the smoother the water will look.
25. Dive Into Long Exposure Astrophotography
You can easily track the movement of stars using astrophotography. The long light streaks combined with a dark night sky will help you take striking photos.
You can take this further by including a landscape in your shot.
24. Use One Source of Light for Fine Art Photos
Whether you’re shooting in a theatre or at home, you can use limited light to take photos that resemble fine art.
Combined with a simple background, a single source of light will give your photos an atmospheric and moody look.
23. Look for Similar Colors
Pay attention to color combinations when you look for motion. This photo of a busy street looks so appealing because of the bright reds and dull greys.
There aren’t many other colors to pay attention to, so it’s easy to process the blur and understand what’s going on in the picture.
22. Use Different Motion Blur Subjects in One Picture
You can take a series of different photos and turn them into one image.
This is great for haunting conceptual photography that features blurred people or objects.
21. Create a Digital Glitch Effect in Photoshop
You can create artificial motion blur with the digital glitch effect. It can be used to enhance almost any image you want.
While this isn’t traditional motion blur, you can use it to enhance your blurred photos even more.
20. Take Vibrant Photos of Neon Lights
In addition to photographing amusement parks, you can take striking photos of neon lights.
The vibrant signs and light patterns are perfect subjects for unusual images like this one.
19. Photograph Details for an Abstract Effect
To make the subjects in your photos unrecognizable, photograph details. If your subject isn’t moving, simply move your camera in different directions when you press the shutter.
18. Shoot From a Low Angle
Like high angles, low angles can help you look at the world from a refreshing perspective and give you new ideas.
You can shoot from low angles when photographing streets or trees on a windy day, for example.
17. Take a Blurred Self-Portrait in Nature
Self-portraits out in nature aren’t uncommon.
But you can use this as a chance to improve your self-portrait, landscape, and long exposure skills at the same time.
16. Photograph Famous Locations in Motion
Instead of taking casual photos of famous landmarks on your next trip, take your tripod out for long exposure photography.
This is an easy way to elevate your travel photography and make your tourist photos stand out, like this image of a torii gate in Hakone, Japan.
15. Capture Moving Clouds Straight from Your Window
One of the easiest ways to capture motion blur is from your window.
The safety of your home will provide you with enough time to take stunning photos. Use this practice time to get comfortable with using slow shutter speeds.
14. Take Food Photos in Markets
To get comfortable with street and food photography at the same time, take photos in markets.
The diversity of the food and the professionalism of the cooks will give you many different motions to capture.
13. Photograph Your Pet During a Walk
If your pet is in a comfortable environment, you can easily take stunning blurred photos of it.
Motion is a priority. You won’t need to worry about getting the right pose or trying to get your pet’s attention all the time.
12. Manually Desaturate Motion Blur
Too much motion blur can be distracting. Fortunately, you can fix this problem by using manual desaturation.
In Photoshop, you can achieve this by making a new layer, changing the layer mode to Color, and painting over the motion blur using black or white.
11. Capture the Elegant Movements of Fog
According to Wikipedia, “Fog forms when the difference between air temperature and the dew point is less than 2.5 °C.”
With this in mind, you can pick a time and place to take magical photographs of moving fog.
10. Use a Black Background to Emphasize the Blur
It’s easy to focus on a moving subject when there aren’t any background distractions. One of the most efficient ways to achieve this is to use a dark background.
You can make your own black background by painting a piece of cardboard or using a large sheet of paper.
9. Use Selective Color for a Surreal Effect
Selective Color is a tool that’s available in almost every editing program. You can use it to dramatically change the colors in your photograph without affecting the entire image.
In this case, the photographer changed the colors of the trees to give the image an ethereal look.
8. Shoot Moving Objects Through Painted Glass
Paint a mirror or a piece of glass. You can use a combination of water and paint to create more depth. Then, photograph your subject through the glass while they move around.
This will create an eerie effect that’s perfect for both abstract and conceptual photography enthusiasts.
7. Take Blurred Photos Using an Analog Camera
Analog cameras don’t offer screen previews, which can make the motion-blurring process all the more interesting.
You can simply create an intentional blur by moving your film camera around as you press the shutter.
6. Take Your Food Photography to the Next Level with Motion Blur
Many professional food photos tend to be very sharp and vivid.
You can go against this by blurring parts of a shot with the help of movement. You can throw flour or move your hand on a flat lay.
This will make your version of food photography look alive.
5. Take Abstract Photos of Fireworks
Photos of fireworks are so common that many photographers no longer bother taking their cameras out during an event.
Fortunately, you can make your fireworks photos look unique by using a slow shutter speed. This will create ghostly light streaks that aren’t commonly seen in this genre.
4. Use Long Fabrics or Dresses for Dramatic Motion Blur
The bigger your subject, the more dramatic the motion blur will look.
If you’re photographing people, you can enhance this effect by using flowy dresses and semi-transparent fabric. The more movement there is, the more diverse your results will be.
3. Capture the Excitement of a Concert
With their colorful lights and excited crowds, concerts are some of the best places to improve your motion blur photography.
All the movements you capture will tell a story about the crowd and the performer.
2. Crop Your Photos for a Cinematic Effect
You’ve probably noticed that most film stills feature some kind of motion blur because the subject is always moving around in some way. You can recreate this in your own work by cropping your results in Photoshop.
Some people crop their photos on their own to create wide-looking images, while others use specific aspect ratios. One of the most common ones used in cinematic photography is 2.39:1.
1. Take Photos of Falling Rain or Snow
When the weather isn’t ideal for an outdoor photoshoot, you can still take stunning photos. All you need is falling rain or snow. The more there is, the better.
Keep an eye out for simple backgrounds and subjects that will enhance your story.
In many photography genres, sharp photos are a priority. Motion blur photography is an exception.
Without motion, life in every aspect of our lives wouldn’t exist. You can celebrate this and capture the beauty of motion with the help of a few simple tools—a slow shutter speed and a tripod.
Check out our Infinite Exposures course to take your motion blur photography to the next level!
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