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7 Easy Ways to Freeze Motion with Your Camera

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As photographers there are times where we want blurred background and beautiful background separation.  But other times stopping speed is our primary concern. We may want to freeze motion of a car, a plane, a bird, an athlete at a sporting event, or even with snapshots of our own kids running, jumping, diving, etc…

If you have been shooting for years, you may already know all of this.  If that is the case, I would love you to add comments with more ideas on the subject.  For those just starting out, this post is for you.

jumping-in-pool-web 7 Easy Ways to Freeze Motion with Your Camera Photo Sharing & Inspiration Photography Tips

Settings for the above shots: ISO 100, Speed 1/500-1/1250, Aperture f/4.0-5.6 – using Tamron 28-300mm lens (manual with no flash)

Here are some of the many ways to capture a fast moving object or person without any blur or sense of motion (panning and other techniques will show purposeful motion – another post for another time).

  1. Using an SLR – a digital SLR is going to help you a lot here.  It is not to say that with the right timing and enough light that you cannot accomplish freezing motion occasionally with a P&S. But you have a lot more control with an SLR. So if you have one – use it!
  2. Use a fast shutter speed.  The faster the better (until it makes you compromise ISO – and sometimes if in a dark arena – I will use a higher ISO and have grain so that I can get a high speed)
  3. Shoot in manual and set your shutter speed and then meter for the ISO and the Aperture.  If you are not yet comfortable with this, shoot in speed priority mode and set your ISO and allow the camera to pick the aperture.
  4. Consider how much depth of field you need – remember it is harder to nail focus of a moving object – if you are close to the subject and shoot too shallow – your shot will not be tack sharp
  5. Remember flash can freeze motion if used as primary source of light and if you are close enough to your subject – I do not use flash often – but in certain situations it can be helpful.
  6. Use AI Servo and continuous mode so you shoot many photos back to back and your camera will help track the movement
  7. Predetermine focus – if you know where your subject will be select a spot on the same plane and focus ahead (or have the camera pointed there and ready) – I often try both tracking the subject and pre-focusing and seeing which best fits for the specific situation

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  1. Stephanie on September 1, 2009 at 11:12 am

    WOW! THANKS JODI! MY HUSBAND AND ARE BOTH NOVICES…………..I wish we had this over the weekend…..My daughter’s birthday was at one of the inflatable places and and needless to say we dont have any great pictures!!! LOL!!thanks again!

  2. Karen Baetz on September 1, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    Jodi, how did you meter for the ISO and the Aperture in this situation? Thanks!

  3. Elo on September 1, 2009 at 1:44 pm

    You read my mind!, I’m having the hardest time accomplishing this. Getting sharp images at a low light scene, and of course no flash is permited. I raised my iso to 800 (Tamron 17-50mm) aperture 2.8 if a set my shottur too fast i get no light. And still my pictures where a little blured i don’t seem to be able to freeze motion. I have a nikon D80 is there anything else I can do? I’m getting a little frustrated 🙁

  4. Diane Stewart on September 1, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    I wanted to know how to meter for ISO also. Thanks Jodi for all that you do. You are terrific….

  5. Rose on September 2, 2009 at 3:40 am

    I have the Nikon D90 and totally don’t know how to use it! Set the shutter speed…wha?!?! lol Guess I need to dig out the manual and start figuring out what all this means! Thanks for the tips, I’ll have to go play 🙂

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