Add Motion to Your Fall Photography to Help it Stand Out

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This tutorial brought to you by The New York Institute of Photography. NYIP is the largest and longest running online photography school in the world. Offering ten online photography classes to choose from, the school makes learning photography fun and accessible to aspiring artists on a global scale. Whether you are interested in a new career or are in pursuit of a hobby, NYIP students get the personal attention they need to achieve their goals. They have access to professional photographers as their teachers and mentors to guide them through the course and help them improve.

NYIP is a paid partner of dPS.

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If you are gearing up to capture foliage photos this fall, you may want to brainstorm some ways to adjust your typical compositional style in an effort to produce more unique shots within such a commonly photographed category. How to add some motion to your fall photography will help it stand out.

Add motion to fall photography

One interesting way to update a lackluster landscape is to display some motion in your image. People are more likely to be drawn to your pictures if you can effectively incite some feeling that may be attached to the subject you are shooting. Considering the topic of the changing seasons, including some motion is a fun way to invoke that feelings associate with a shift from summer to fall.

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Bulb

Many photographers, new and experienced alike, overlook the BULB mode feature on their cameras. Some aren’t entirely sure what it does and therefore tend to skip past it altogether while adjusting their shutter speeds. This year, take a closer look at this functionality and explore its potential for adding some spark to your seasonal shots.

When working in BULB mode, you will be able to use shutter speeds that are several minutes long. For example, by keeping the shutter open for a mere few seconds, you will have just the right amount of time to move your camera during the actual exposure, allowing you to create a dreamy effect many others are only able to achieve on a computer with the help of post-production tools.

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In practice, let’s say you are trying to capture a shot of two different sunflowers growing several feet away from each other in a field. Rather than stepping back to include both flowers in a static, motionless frame, this is a great opportunity to slow your shutter speed and get creative with some movement. To capture a fluid, wistful effect while including both plants in the shot, simply focus on one flower first, start your exposure, and then quickly move the camera to the second flower while the shutter is still open.

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Capture falling leaves

Falling leaves are another perfect subject to explore when experimenting with slower shutter speeds. This autumn, try heading to a local park or hiking trail on a windy day to try out these new techniques. Find a tree with some pretty foliage that you’d like to use as your subject. Set up your gear and wait for the right moment to capture the natural motion of the outdoors.

As a gust of wind blows a handful of leaves from the nearby tree, get creative with the ways in which you can capture that windy motion. One method could be to try zooming in and out mid-exposure. Another could be to get into manual focus mode. Start capturing your shot in focus, then abruptly twist out of focus at the end of the exposure. You could even physically start moving your camera while the shutter is still open.

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Fall décor

If you’re interested in capturing some similarly unique shots of Halloween decorations, you can employ the same aforementioned techniques in an effort to add a dragging, spooky motion effect to candles or outdoor lights. Again, with open shutter exposure of a few seconds, you can create a look much more compelling than an otherwise stationary image of a home’s exterior décor. When experimenting with creative compositions such as these, you can toss the typical rulebook aside and just focus on trying to produce something innovative and exciting.

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Moving water

If you’re traveling to a hiking trail in search of captivating foliage shots, make sure to keep your eye out for any opportunity to capture images of water as well. At a speed like 1/30th of a second, you can transform an ordinary waterfall shot into a compelling silky cascade with a flourishing fall backdrop. If you can’t locate a waterfall and are instead working with a more slower-moving subject like a stream or brook, you might want to try a speed a bit slower, such as 1/15th or 1/4th. In general, we recommend you try fluctuating between speeds of around ¼ and 1/60 until you find one that you’re comfortable with. Make sure to experiment with the exposure time to find your favorite water effects.

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Getting Started

Before you head out to try these new techniques this year, here’s a checklist of some last minute tips you might want to keep in mind.

Keep the camera steady

When you’re working with such slow exposure times, your shot is prone to be affected by even the slightest jostle of your camera. You might want to consider packing a tripod. If you don’t own one (or lugging one along isn’t practical for your excursion) try to find something outdoors like a boulder as a means for stabilizing your camera before you get started. If you can’t locate a helpful natural prop, you could also try using the 2-second timer and propping the camera up on your gear bag.

Waterfalls

When shooting waterfalls, if you want to capture a more even exposure without the often inevitable inclusion of heavy, distracting shadows, try to head out very early in the morning. If this doesn’t work with your schedule, a cloudy day is your next best option for avoiding this.

Raise the ISO

If you’re trying to photograph fall décor indoors but the exposure is repeatedly too dark, try cranking your ISO (and using a simple noise reduction software).

Blur the background

If you’re trying to focus on a foreground subject but struggling to effectively blur the background, try using the widest possible aperture, and the longest focal length of your lens. Slowly move your subject further and further away from the background as you capture your shot.

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By effectively employing these tips and displaying the motion of your subjects, you’ll be able to capture the essence of autumn in a uniquely captivating way.

This tutorial has been brought to you by The New York Institute of Photography. NYIP is the largest and longest running online photography school in the world. Offering ten online photography classes to choose from, the school makes learning photography fun and accessible to aspiring artists on a global scale. Whether you are interested in a new career or are in pursuit of a hobby, NYIP students get the personal attention they need to achieve their goals. They have access to professional photographers as their teachers and mentors to guide them through the course and help them improve.

NYIP is a paid partner of dPS.

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Jacob Boller

is the School Director at The New York Institute of Photography and has been in his role for the past decade. Jacob first fell in love with photography taking wildlife photos with his Grandfather and still uses that same Olympus 35mm from time to time. Jacob is honored to be the Director at NYIP, the largest and longest running online photography school in the world, and is proud that via the NYIP Online Learning Center, course updates are made as fast as the camera technology develops.

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