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Motion blur in an image is an interesting way of expressing movement in an image. When the correct shutter speed is selected, the background of the image will remain frozen, while the moving object retains a slight blur to give the impression of movement and speed. Have a look at the examples below. At 1/500 the bicycle is completely frozen. The shutter speed is so quick that the moving object looks still. At 1/125 of a second, the bicycle and rider are slightly blurred, giving a greater expression of motion. At a shutter speed of 1/15, the bicycle and rider are almost completely blurred. In each of the images, the background remains static, which is an important factor in relation to the blur of speed.

Motion blur can also be used whilst the camera itself is in motion. When photographing a moving object, keep the subject in the camera’s frame by panning, and whilst doing this release the shutter. This is a method of making the background appear blurred, whilst the subject remains relatively sharp. Once again, in the examples below, the image taken at 1/500 looks completely frozen. At 1/125 the background is beginning to blur, and the bicycle and rider remain still. At 1/60 the effect of background motion blur is more evident – the scenery is in motion, while, to a large extent, the rider is quite still. These types of images are generally taken making use of a tripod, so that the panning occurs across a level plane, and accidental up and downwards motion is avoided.