How To Photograph Rapid Movement In Child Photography?

  • Sometimes blurred images suggest action more effectively than pin-sharp ones. But if a moment is to be caught from a movement and held, sharp and clear, some thought must be given to the shutter speed required to achieve this. You may be trying to freeze the animated gyrations of children at play in poor light which restricts you to relatively slow speeds. The following facts may serve as a guide.

  • Suppose the child is running across from side to side at something like four to five miles an hour and about a dozen feet from the camera. A speed of 1/200 sec. is needed to arrest movement. If the child is on a roundabout, or trotting on a pony, or cycling, you may well need to set your shutter at 1/1000.

  • If the lighting conditions are bad this might be out of the question. But these times presuppose that the background is also to be sharp. But if the camera is swung, or panned, with the moving child, speeds as slow as 1/30 can be used, after practice. The resulting blur of the background suggests speed more effectively than the picture in which everything is sharp.

  • Slower shutter speeds may also be used if the child is moving towards the camera or even diagonally across the picture area, rather than parallel to the focal plane. In some cases fast movement can be stopped by careful timing of the moment of exposure. A jumping child, for instance, if caught at the peak of the jump, is momentarily still, before starting the downward movement, and relatively slow speeds may be used to catch this moment. This also applies to a swing or see-saw at the peak of the movement. I was once able to freeze an equestrian act, full of violent movement, in the relatively poor light in a circus tent, with a Bhutto speed of 1/3o sec. Three horses galloped round the ring, a pyramid of men and girls on their backs. The picture was taken as they reached the left-hand side of the ring and, for a brief moment were galloping towards the camera.

  • Movement can, of course, be stopped by flash, but here we have been mainly concerned with taking pictures without the knowledge of the children.

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