Gallery: photographing poetry in motion
Poetry in motion
All that I adoreSongwriters: Michael Anthony / Paul Kaufman
There may be poetry in motion, but it’s not necessarily easy to capture that poetry in a still photograph. Despite that, we all try from time to time, and there are various techniques we can use.
For Patti’s Lens Artists Challenge this week I am sharing a few of my attempts and explaining my different approaches. Some, you may see, have been more successful at capturing the sense of motion than others.
Slow shutter speeds
One way of showing movement is to blur it by using a slow shutter speed. The longer the shutter is open, the more blurred any moving objects will appear, as they have a longer period in which to have moved.
This can be especially effective for waterfalls as these two shots of Aysgarth Falls in Wensleydale, Yorkshire, show. The one with the water almost frozen in droplets was taken with the shutter at 1/250th of a second. The one with the blurred water, in contrast, was taken at 1/13th of a second. Incidentally the brown colour of the water is due to peat from higher up in the Dales, running off after heavy rain earlier in the week.
This shot of the Seine in Paris at night was taken with a ½ second shutter speed. I didn’t have a tripod so I used the parapet of a bridge to steady the camera and a delayed shutter release so I wouldn’t jerk the camera when pressing it. That’s a favourite technique of mine, usually reasonably successful. The lights of the moving boat are blurred while the rest of the shot is acceptably sharp.
When I took this photo of musicians at a camp in the Thar Desert two of them were uninvolved in the number being played at that moment. As you can see, they posed for me when they saw my camera, but the drummer carried on playing. You can see the movement in his hand as the 1/15th second shutter speed wasn’t enough to freeze it, even with flash.
Fast shutter speeds
Alternatively you can try to freeze the motion by using a fast shutter speed. You’ll need to be sure you are focused on the subject, not easy when it won’t stay still! When we visited Corcovado National Park in Costa Rica earlier this year I spent some time on one of the beaches tracking pelicans with my lens. This was the best of the shots I captured.
The same technique enabled me to get this shot of flamingos flying overhead at the Salar de Atacama in Chile.
Sometimes you just get lucky! This egret on the Rio Nosara, also in Costa Rica, took off just as I pressed the shutter.
Movement through context
Another way to photograph motion is to capture your subject in such a way that the movement is obvious, from the context or pose. You can sense the movement of these Red Lechwe in the Okavango Delta because of the water they are throwing up with their hooves. As with the pelican and flamingos above, I got the photo by tracking them with my lens. The background is blurred, adding to the sense of movement.
This high jumper at the 2017 World Athletics Championships in London may be more or less frozen by my 1/500th second shutter speed, but there’s no doubt that he is moving. What is less clear is why he us wearing odd shoes!
The motion of this young boy jumping in delight among these bubble in the Foro San Michele in Lucca is obvious.
When travelling by boat or ship you can show the motion by photographing the wake you are leaving behind. This shot was taken on Lago Todos los Santos in Chile. The weather was so poor that day that there was little else to be seen or photographed!
Here we are leaving Friday Harbor on San Juan Island (Washington State) in search of orcas. The latter were no-shows, so again the views from the boat were among the more interesting photos I could get that day!
My new Panasonic Lumix has an interesting feature I’m just getting to grips with. I can shoot a burst of footage of a moving subject and then browse through the frames one by one to select which shots I want to save. The following photos were taken using that setting. I extracted four of the shots then stitched them back together in a short video sequence.
I can also use that setting simply to capture a single still of a moving subject, as with this shot taken in a local churchyard.
I’m hoping to experiment more with that new setting when I get the chance for some bird and wildlife photography on future trips.
Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it stillDorothea Lange
Well, you definitely succeeded in capturing motion Sarah! Your photos are lovely – love the Middle Falls and the flamingos … but my favourite is the photo of the Seine at night.
Thanks so much 😊 I’m fond of that photo too, taken on our 40th wedding anniversary trip last year!
A great gallery, Sarah – enjoyable indeed! I was really caught by the boy and the bubbles – a lovely shot.
Thank you Ann-Christine 🙂 He seems to be quite a favourite!
These are lovely pictures Sarah, especially the boy chasing the bubbles and your last picture of the bee on the pink flower!
Thank you 🙂 I’m sorry your comment disappeared initially, there’s some sort of bug in the system here I think 🙁
Terrific set Sarah – I especially liked the little boy in the bubbles. A wonderful moment captured!
Thanks Tina – we watched him and the bubble-maker for ages!
Love the flamingoes and soap bubbles.
Thank you, I’m glad you liked them 😀
I could stare at the Red Lechwe photo for a long, long time, Sarah. It is just beautiful in its simplicity.
Thank you 🙂 We were fortunate to be there as the herd was spooked by some elephants so I had a good opportunity to photograph them on the move!
Motion well captured Sarah…good timing on the high jumper and the kid having fun with the bubbles.
Thank you 🙂 The high jumper wasn’t too hard, I just focused on the bar and waited for him to come into shot!
I liked your first picture because it shows motion as blur and sharply in focus. Liked the last one as well, Sarah. Pretty hollyhock!
Thank you Siobhan. I spent a lot of time at those falls experimenting with slow and fast shutter speeds 🙂
Great experiments with motion, Sarah. I’ve never shot in the burst mode. I’ll have to explore that. As always, your collection is diverse and really illustrates the different types of motion and how you achieved those results. Wonderful!
Thank you so much 🙂 Not sure who you are as this has come up as anonymous?
In motion pictures are so hard to get but you have such a wonderful collection that perfectly captures the moment 🙂
That’s very kind, thank you 😊
Wonderful photos as always. I was really into photography just before I had my girl… fancy camera, tripod and all. Then had her and only grab it out for travels now, and can’t remember how to use it manually. Maybe one day will pick up the hobby when I have time!
Thank you Anna 🙂 Yes, you should definitely try to take it up again when you’re able to, but using just the auto settings can get pretty good results these days. To be honest that’s what I do 90% of the time – I only switch to manual in difficult conditions or when I want to get a special effect (like the blurred waterfall) that I know auto won’t give me 😆
Great great selections. Why am I not surprised. LOVE that high jumper, and all the bird shots. Excellent.
Thanks so much John, I’m glad you like them!
Anabel @ The Glasgow Gallivanter
Another ear-worm, thanks! When I hear the phrase Poetry in Motion my first thought is always Roger Federer. Can’t think why … Anyway, my friend who is a Sports Photographer (just back from the Commonwealth Games) got me a lovely shot of him once. In motion of course.
You have a point about Federer, but I would add Stefan Edberg to that category too 😀
All fantastic examples. Thank you for explaining your techniques to help clarify the different types of motion you grabbed. I love the subtle movement of the drummers hand. The other two looking straight at you makes that photo powerful. They would have loved to see this. Don’t you wish that you could send photos to people when they come out this great?
Lastly, I loved how you introduces this as poetry in motion. You certainly did that….very well.
Thanks Donna 😊 We do occasionally send people a photo! There was a father with his son in Khimsar on this same trip who gave us his email address so we could send the photo. And I printed off some of the photos I took of our guides in N Korea. Our UK tour leader Carl promised to take the photos with him when he accompanied the next tour group but then Covid hit and he hasn’t been able to go since. It’s very hard to post anything to people there.
As for ‘poetry in motion’, that song was the first thing that came into my head when I saw what the theme was this week!
What a motion series, Sarah! Love the various motions you captured. Great bird images. Love the The motion of this young especially.
Thank you Amy 🙂
Excellent examples Sarah!
Thank you Anne, I’m glad you liked them 🙂
Thanks Malcolm 🙂
Lovely images and wonderful explanations. My favorite photo is the boy with the bubbles, he appears ‘elevated by joy’. 😊
Thank you Rose 😊 We watched that boy for quite a while and I took a number of photos, of which this is my favourite!
Excellent choices Sarah. I am useless at trying to capture slow moving water, my attempts are always overexposed, but I have just found my phone camera has an option so next time I am near any moving water I might give it a go!
Definitely worth trying with the phone! If you regularly get over-exposed shots it may be that you have the shutter speed set too low so too much light is getting in. You don’t need to have it super low to capture movement in something as fast as water.
Wonderful motion shots, Sarah!
Thanks John 😊
Thanks for the tips Sarah 🙂 Great selection for the theme 🙂
Thank you Brian 🙂
I was going to mention the burst feature and then came to it right at the end. Michaela uses that feature to capture bird/wildlife shots. She also captured a lightning strike in Split with it. Mind you, some of these shots in your collection are absolutely fabulous anyway, even without using it!
I’m just getting used to it as my old Panasonic didn’t have that feature. Using it for lightening is a great idea – thanks 🙂
Oh yes and those pictures of leaping whales in Monterey…
I so love your movement shots especially the birds and the red Lechwe.
Thanks so much Teresa 😊
Reflections of an Untidy Mind
Beautiful photos and great explanation, Sarah. I must admit I am quite captivated by your first image. I find it so tricky to take photos of moving objects. You have pulled it off admirably more than once so it must be more than luck.
Thank you Tracy. I meant to say in the text that the first shot is of the falls at Seljalandsfoss in Iceland. The luck comes when a bird you are photographing perched on a branch takes off just as you press the shutter!
All very successful technical stuff, and way beyond my pay grade!
Not at all – a point and shoot can achieve some of these effects, as can a modern phone camera 🙂
Not my phone camera! But I too have a Lumix, not as modern as yours. I’ll have an explore …
Reflections of an Untidy Mind
That makes it all the more satisfying.