Masterclass Motion Blur 

Nick1000

Calamari blur by Nick More

Master of motion Nick More shares his secrets for shooting movement underwater…

Taking motion blur images is the hot fad in underwater photography. The technique captures the dynamic, fluid nature of the marine world. It suggests the endless motion that makes the underwater world so different from topside landscapes. Below are some of award-winning photographer Nick More's top tips to getting started shooting with a blurred vision.

 

Tips & Tricks 

• Shoot in manual. Also, shoot in RAW as you will probably need to make some adjustments post-production (including reduction of highlights and increases in contrast, vibrance and clarity).

• Use a slow shutter speed (1/4 - 1/15th sec) to allow ambient light to blur the image.

• Use high powered flashguns (strobes). Be prepared to turn your flashguns to full for big animals. It is the flash that freezes the subject so that it appears sharp in the frame. 

• Use a large aperture (f/18 - f/22) and a low ISO (50-200).

• On modern cameras, use Group AF function. Consider locking the focus (manual) on older cameras with slower AF systems. 

Shoot at the beginning or the end of the day, when the light levels are low. Try to shoot with the sun, rather than against. 

Get close to your subject - the flash will not light subjects that are more than a metre away. 

Choose dynamic subjects, such as sharks. 

Try different techniques such as spins, twirls and zoom-blurs. Or even combine the different techniques to get wacky results. 

• Practise! For every successful motion blur shot, there are at least ten failures. 

Commit to the technique and plan entire dives or even trips dedicated to the style. The images will boost your portfolio as well as appealing to judges in photo competitions. 

Tighten the clamps on your strobe arms. The motion of panning underwater can move your flashguns due to the water resistance. 

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Bluespotted blur by Nick More

ESSENTIAL TERMS

• Panning - a photographic technique that combines a slow shutter speed with camera motion to create a sense of speed around a moving object. 

• Accelerated Panning - moving the camera with, and then ahead of, the subject to create blur effects. 

• Motion Blur - is the streak-like effects of moving objects in a photograph. 

• Front Curtain Sync - default mode of the camera, the flash is triggered at the start of the exposure. 

• Rear Curtain Sync - the flash is triggered at the end of the exposure. 

• Exposure Triangle - the balanced relationship between shutter speed, aperture and ISO. A change in one of these must be compensated by a change in at least one other. 

• Shutter Speed - the amount of time the camera's sensor is exposed to the light. The slower the shutter speed the more blur is achieved (typically between 1/6th and 1/15th sec).

• Aperture - refers to the diameter of the opening of the lens through which light passes. A high aperture (for example. f/20) is a small opening that controls the flash brightness needed to free the subject. 

• ISO - this setting controls the sensitivity of the camera's digital sensor. A low ISO balances the slow shutter speed needed to blur images (for example ISO 200). 

• Strobes - underwater flashguns - the more powerful, the better, for motion blur photography. 

• Ambient Light - also known as natural light. The light from the sun.

 

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