Creating Motion Streaks in Camera for Time-lapse Movies

On way to convey a sense of time is with motion streaks.  I recently refined my approach and would like to share it with you.

© Richard Harrington

The key to streaks is to leave the camera open for a long time.  Of course doing this tends to let too much light in the camera and can overexpose the shot.  Here’s how to pull things off.

  1. Set the ƒ-stop very high.  In this case I used ƒ/22.0.
  2. I set the shutter speed to 2.0 seconds.  The actual time you’ll use will vary based on the speed of which objects are moving.  The slower the speed the longer the shutter should be open.
  3. Adjust the ISO setting so you don’t get too much noise. For this shot I used ISO 560.
  4. Turn down the exposure compensation setting to recover the overblown shot.  I pushed this all the way to -5.0.
  5. Tweak the ISO until you get a proper balance of the exposure triangle.
  6. Shoot Raw if possible to give greater flexibility in shadows and highlights after the fact.

Here is the end result.  Keep in mind that this was shot on a wobbly platform (a cruse ship).

This post sponsored by iStockphoto.


About Richard Harrington

Richard Harrington is the founder of RHED Pixel, a visual communications company based in Washington, D.C. He is the Publisher of Photofocus as well as an author on Rich has authored several books including From Still to Motion, Understanding Photoshop, Professional Web Video, and Creating DSLR Video.

Posted on December 27, 2011, in Time-lapse, Tutorial. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Really cool idea… you’ll definitely need plenty of light. I’m wondering if I could do this at a basketball game this weekend. Might give it a whirl.