The subject of motion is one I feel very comfortable with, using shutter speeds to create the appropriate effect, depending on the subject and the impact or story that is being created. I love motorsport and an understanding of shutter speed is essential for this subject matter.

With this exercise, I undertook something a little different and stood close to a railway line,taking passing trains at different shutter speeds. In this case, 1/500, 1/160th and 1/50th of a second. This showed the trains in very different ways, the fastest shutter speed slows a clear image of a train in a countryside setting, the second gives some degree of motion with a little blurring whilst the final image shifts the subject from a train to that of speed.


The middle image would normally be an image I would bin, as there is insufficient detail for it to be about the train, nor is there enough blur for it to really give the sense of speed. Due to the stationary background, these images were all exposed for the background.

Normally the images I take that outline speed or movement are those where the background blurs, so that the subject can remain clear. This involves panning (tracking the subject) whilst taking the image. This can be a tricky technique, but results can have real impact. The other trick I’ve learned are that these type of photos benefit from a little bit of angle in the shot as it can really add to the feeling of speed. A few examples of these type of images are shown below:


One area I continue to struggle with is exposure, this does take a lot of getting right, slower shutter speeds used on cars or bikes mean it is much easier to overexpose and create horrible blown out sections of images. I’ve never really worked out if auto exposure or manual exposure is better for these subjects.