Hacking Motion Blur

Today we are going to hack motion blur inside and out and show you how to use it TODAY in your photos.  Blur is not a bad thing- if you use it for a purpose.  This is a quick little tool in your tool belt for when you want to exaggerate a quick movement and make something look like its moving super fast through the frame- even if its not.  All you do is use a slower shutter speed when something is moving through the frame and pan your camera with the movement of the subject.  If you keep the camera still and something passes through the frame, the moving object will be blurred.  You see this all the time.  If you do the opposite and use your camera to “follow” something through the scene, the rest of the frame will be blurred!

Real Life Example

I was sitting in a little outdoor café in Milan drinking coffee and eating a sandwich and noticed that the area I was sitting in front of had a ton of traffic passing through. It was fashion week 2012 in Milan Italy and I wanted to exaggerate how speedy the cars were going by to give them impression of life moving really quickly.  All I did was slow the shutter speed to about 1/25 of a second, and when a car went by I panned my camera from left to right as the car moved from left to right.  I kept the same pace of movement as the car did which means that the car was in focus but everything else was blurry!   This car looks like it is racing by but it was only really going about 5mph!   This is a super simple thing to do but it makes a WOW dramatic statement with a simple image.

motion blur of a car in milan

using motion blur to emphasize speed

Here is another one I shot in Lake Como of the motorcycle riders passing through- same exact concept:

motion blur milan motorcycle

Using motion blur to show movement of a motorcycle


One last one:

motion blur milan motorcycle at night

using motion blur to show this motorcycle moving quickly


This may take a few shots to get it right- the only challenge is to try and keep the exact pace of the moving object lined up with your camera as it moves through the scene.  The folks over at Digital Photography School had a great post featuring 15 Stunning Images Using Motion Blur– check it out for some very creative inspiration.  For even more inspiration, visit the Flickr “Deliberate Motion Blur: The Best of The Movers and Shakers” Group.


Motion Blur Assignment

Your assignment is to go out to the nearest street and capture this type of image.  Feel free to go with a simple passing car, bicyclist, skateboarder, etc.   Keep in mind that if it’s the middle of the day the sign may be so bright that its difficult to get a slow shutter speed.  If that’s the case you can always lower your ISO as low as it can get, and use a much smaller aperture/bigger f-number which will let less light in and slow the shutter speed.  That’s it!



  1. Perc Carter September 28, 2015 at 11:00 pm

    This morning 29/9 I ordered your Hacking photography ebook on special at 14.99 and paid by PayPal . I’m unable to locate the download. Please advise me what is th download file name.
    Thanks. I enjoy your ebooks, very informative.

  2. Mike Newton September 28, 2015 at 11:18 pm

    Hi Perc,

    Thanks for writing me to let me know. I just re-sent it to you – can you let me know if it makes it to you in the next few minutes?

    I’m not sure if got caught in your spam folder or something but could you add ‘mike@hackingphotography.com’ to your safesenders list to be sure my emails make it to you?

    Thanks again for you order Perc – enjoy the ebooks!

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