For when France seems too far away. Shop for inspiring images of France and discover travel tips, packing advice, recipes, book reviews and more.
For when France seems too far away. Shop for inspiring images of France and discover travel tips, packing advice, recipes, book reviews and more.

Three Tips For Managing Movement In Travel Photos

Rue de Rivoli

Some of my favourite photographs from our French travels have been the photos that convey the energy and the spirit of the country I love so much.

And those shots often contain a whole lot of movement.

While it’s gratifying to be able to capture crystal clear images without blur, sometimes it’s fun to convey a bit of movement in your photos.

Other times though, you want people to just move out of the way. Or more specifically, out of your shot.

While my photography skills are improving all the time, I’m still what you would call ‘rubbish’ at managing movement in travel photos.

Scott, on the other hand, has it all figured out.

So, tonight I thought I’d ask him to share his top tips, so we all might get a little better at managing movement to improve our travel photos.

Adding Movement.

Whether it’s light trails in night time photos, or giving the impression of speed, longer exposures can add some depth to your travel photos.

Rue de Rivoli at night

So how do you do it?

Well, with a camera that allows you to adjust your shutter speed it’s fairly easy. You just shoot at a lower shutter speed than your camera is telling you to. Around a 60th of a second can introduce considerable movement in faster objects such as motorbikes and cars.

Many point and shoot cameras offer this option these days, look for the ’S’ symbol, and adjust it to a lower number than where it starts from.You can either pan (move the camera in time with your subject) to keep it in focus and blur the background, or hold your camera on a fixed point, and let the car, bike, train or person do the work for you.

Adding Flow.

A slower shutter speed can also give a softer effect to water. That’s how those nice flowing effects that are often seen in photos of streams cascading over mossy rocks are captured.

This is best achieved with a slow shutter speed (several seconds). In these situations keeping your camera steady long enough might require some extra help – see the closing section of this post for a couple of ideas.

Getting People Out Of Your Shot.

An extra long exposure can also be helpful at removing people from your photos – if they keep moving, they won’t appear!

Some of the earliest photographs taken in Paris show empty streets for that reason, as some of the first photographic processes required long exposures. One example is this shot: Boulevard du Temple by Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre (who invented the Daguerretype – an early form of photographic reproduction). Taking several minutes to expose, the 8:00am Boulevard du Temple image is empty, apart from the shoe-shine boy and his customer, who were still long enough to register.

While there’s no need these days for such long exposures – things have moved on a bit since the 1830’s. Sometimes just a few seconds can improve the number of people in your shot. Unfortunately this trick only works in low light situations and it won’t help you to filter out the crowds in front of the Mona Lisa!

In Closing

Being able to hold your camera still is a key to long exposure photography (apart from panning), otherwise your images will end up rather blurry, although sometimes that can be interesting too! Most modern cameras come with image stabilising technology to help reduce blur, while even simple measures like resting your camera on a wall or lightpost will get you a long way. For longer  exposures, mounting your camera on a tripod will certainly help – if you are prepared to carry one with you while you travel.

Moving Metro

Do you have any tips for managing movement in your travel photos? If so, we’d love for you to share them in the comments below.

Until next time – au revoir.


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