Capturing Motion: A Guide to Achieving Stunning Motion Blur - B&C Camera

No, you don't need to visit an eye doctor; that's a motion blur! I know the answer to this, but have you ever looked at a photograph and felt like you could feel the movement captured within it? 

That's motion blur, baby! It's like freezing time while letting your photo viewer feel a sense of action and dynamism. In this little bloggy blog, we'll SHAKE out some truths about motion blur, how it works, and how you can use it to add movement to your photographs.


A Guide to Achieving Stunning Motion Blur:

What is Motion Blur?

How Does Motion Blur Work?

What Does Motion Blur Do?

How Motion Blur Factors Into Your Photo Goals.

How to Incorporate Motion Blur Into Your Photography?

Things to Avoid When Using Motion Blur.


blurry photo of a landscape

What is Motion Blur?

Motion blur happens when the subject or camera is in motion while the camera is exposing an image (aka photograph). Instead of freezing a moment in time with sharp details (like most images), motion blur captures the movement as wavy streaks or blurry smudges, adding a sense of speed inside your picture. So, what I'm trying to say is… It's pretty cool. 


Different photographers might have slight differences in their interpretation of what motion blur means to them based on their own personal styles and preferences. Some folks may see motion blur as an unwanted artifact to be eliminated when taking pictures. In contrast, other speed-lovers see it as a creative flourish that adds energy to their images.


How do you feel about it? 


motion blur photo of a raod ahead

How Does Motion Blur Work?

When you take a picture, pushing the little shutter button, that noise you hear isn't just for show. The shutter inside your camera slips open quickly, letting light hit the camera sensor and thus exposing the image. "Motion blur results from the camera's shutter being open for an extended period while the subject or the camera is moving." When the shutter is up, the camera will interpret any movement as motion blur, and the longer the shutter is left up, the more intense the motion blur will be. Just something to knock around the ol' noggin.'


Motion blur results from the camera's shutter being open for an extended period while the subject or the camera is moving.


motion blur photo of runners feet

What Does Motion Blur Do?

Motion blur does a few different things in photography. Let's break 'em down: 


Conveys Movement

Firstly, it adds the feeling of motion to your still photograph. Motion blur helps convey a sense of activity in an otherwise static image. It can make a picture feel more alive and exciting.


Emphasizes Speed

In a subgenre, we call "action photography," motion blur can emphasize the speed and fluidity of the subject's movement, again infusing the picture with excitement and energy.


Creates Mood

This is a biggie – Depending on how it's used, motion blur can elicit different moods and emotions, in the picture, yes, but also in the person looking at it. Soft, gentle blur might create a dreamy atmosphere, while sharp, fast blur can evoke a sense of chaos. And as we all know, chaos reigns. 


Adds Interest

Let's face it, sometimes pictures are boring to look at. Why would we look at a boring picture when the boob tube is squawking at us 24/7? KIDDING. Motion blur can make your photograph more interesting to examine, drawing the viewer's eye and creating a focal point within the frame that isn't just of a squash or something…


motion blur photo of a side of a car driving on a street

How Motion Blur Factors Into Your Photo Goals.

Whether you're capturing a fast-speed skate park, a rushing riverbed, or a bullet, motion blur can help you achieve your photographic goals by adding drama, motion, depth, and realism to your pictures. Mastering the art of the blur can bring your photography to new heights and create compelling visual stories that are truly captivating.


blurry photo of purple flowers 

How to Incorporate Motion Blur Into Your Photography?

When incorporating motion blur into your photographs, there are a few key things to try and aim for:


Controlled Blur

Not all blurs are created equal. Try to have a purpose for your motion blur. Make sure you're underscoring the thematic nature of the image or depicting a subject that is totally enhanced by the addition of motion blur.



Pay close attention to the direction of movement in your image and use motion blur to emphasize it. A helpful shorthand to remember: "Diagonal blur can create a sense of energy and dynamism, while vertical or horizontal blur can convey stability or calm."



I thought blur was the OPPOSITE of clarity. Hold your horses! While motion blur adds movement to your images, yes, it's also essential to ensure your subject remains recognizable and identifiable. Otherwise, it will just look like one big blur, and who wants to look at that? Experiment with techniques such as panning or selective focus to keep your subject sharp amidst the blur.



Like all photographs, composition is of paramount importance. Ensure you're not sacrificing a well-composed shot for some sexy blur action. 


blurry photo of runner's legs and shoes 

Things to Avoid When Using Motion Blur.

Yes, there are a few pitfalls to Motion Blur…


Excessive Blur

Too much chocolate will give you a tummy ache; avoid overdoing it with motion blur. Too much will muddle the image and make it difficult for viewers to see what is happening. 


Blurry Backgrounds

Watch out for and pay attention to the background of your image. Avoid eye-catching aspects/elements that might compete with your main focal point for the viewer's attention. Use your depth of field skills to keep the background sharper while blending the main subject with motion blur somewhere in the foreground. Think about a bull charging a matador. If the stadium of onlookers behind the bull is also blurry, we won't understand the animal's incredible movement.


Unintended Blur

Consider that unintentional motion blur is still caused by camera shake – the very thing you're doing to get the INTENDED motion blur. Tricky, eh? Use a tripod to stabilize your camera, minimizing all the blur you don't want. Sometimes, you'll have to adjust your settings, so be ready for that. It might take more than one try to get your perfect motion blur image.


Loss of Detail

Be careful not to sacrifice too much detail in the process of trying to capture the perfect motion blur. Work for a balance between motion and clarity to ensure that your subject remains recognizable and engaging.



Motion blur is a wicked, excellent, and powerful tool in the photographer's toolbox. It offers endless creative possibilities for giving your pictures energy and vitality. By understanding how motion blur works and practicing techniques to use it successfully, you can add a new skill, taking an exciting, unexplored path to artistic discovery. Your photography journey is always just beginning. 


Related article: How to Shoot Action Sports Photography with Freeze Motion?

Related article: What is Shutter Speed in Photography

Related article: Textures: The Unsung Heroes of Composition

Related article: How to Use Leading Lines in Photography?

Related article: Shallow Depth of Field: A Guide to Better Storytelling

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