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Tips & Tricks

How to Create Motion in Action Photography with Corey Rich

By Chris Nachtwey on June 10th 2014

When I first started shooting, I always wondered how to create those great images you see of a car completely still, but the area around the car looked like it was actually in motion. As time went on and I learned more, I figured out I could create motion in my photography with a slower shutter speed and a bit of panning. Well that same technique can and should be applied to certain action photography.

In the Adorama sponsored video below, Corey Rich shows you how using a slower shutter speed can help you capture a mountain biker in motion, creating a much more dramatic action still image.




Nikon D4s

Nikon 17-35 f/2.8

SanDisk 128 GB Extreme Pro Compact Flash Card




To achieve the look of motion in the image you need to use a slower shutter speed, yet stay focused on the mountain bike rider. Corey uses a bit of panning with his body from left to right and the fast continuous shooting mode on his D4s to take multiple images and ultimately picks the best one from the set of images.

As you can see above the images, the one with the slower shutter speed is much more appealing than the one with a high shutter speed. This is fairly simple, yet creates a much more interesting image to the eye.



It’s subtle techniques like this, that can help you stand out in the crowd of photographers. While many novice photographers would opt for the fast 1/1000 of a second shutter speed to freeze the mountain biker in motion, using a slower shutter speed with a bit of panning is going to create much more compelling images.

Don’t just limit this technique to action sports, you can use it in commercial photography or even at weddings.  I have used it before to isolate and highlight a bride and groom on a crazy dance floor –  it showed the motion of the dance floor, yet the still and calm of the couple.

Via: Adorama TV/Images via screencaps

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Chris Nachtwey is a full-time wedding and portrait photographer based in Connecticut. He is the founder and creator of 35to220 a website dedicated to showcasing the best film photography in the world. Chris loves to hear from readers, feel free to drop him a line via the contact page on his website! You can see his work here: Chris Nachtwey Photography

Q&A Discussions

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  1. David Hall

    This is a technique I need to practice.

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  2. Rafael Steffen

    This is a great article that shows how you approach Panning shots. There is a great video that Mark Wallace produced that shows all the necessary steps to get great feel for speed.

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  3. Jacob Jexmark

    Getting it in camera? What is this wizardry? There is Photoshop you know. (Just kidding, nice article/video)

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  4. JSM

    Silly question but What type of focus point is best for panning. Single or continuous?

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    • Rhys

      Depends. If theyre 100% perpendicular to you go single. If theres any angle of depth, go continuous. I use ai servo most of the time when i shoot cars at autocross events.

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