Capturing Movement

A Ferris Wheel in motion in Downtown Atlanta against an evening "blue hour" sky.

Atlanta in Motion

I love the challenge of capturing movement in a still photo. It's often technically challenging but the finished photo makes me feel like I'm really in the scene when I look at it. 

This shot was difficult composing because I was up on a parking deck and my view wasn't ideal. I wanted the Ferris Wheel, but I couldn't make it the centerpiece because there was a big building that was close to the camera and to the right. 

I didn't like the top of the building in front of me, but I did like the Mercedes logo on the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in the middle background. 

I also wanted to see if I could capture the steam coming out from the roof on the left side of the photo. I liked the way it was moving and thought it would make an interesting juxtaposition to the moving Ferris Wheel. 

Dragging the Shutter

I wanted to show the wheel's motion, so I needed to use a long shutter speed which you'll often hear photographers call "dragging the shutter."

The only issue with a long exposure on the Ferris Wheel was the super bright white lights. When I slowed down my shutter speed, I was blowing the highlights - those darn blown highlights again!

Photography is always about balancing out the light sources. 

I had my camera on a tripod since it was just past sundown into the blue hour and I was going with a slow shutter speed. 

The settings that gave me the best shot to work with: ISO 100, shutter speed 3 seconds, f/9.

The Final Edit

I thought the steam on the left side of the photo did come out kinda cool but not as noticeable as I would have liked. 

The Ferris Wheel was bright but not blown out and I was happy with the motion. 

I didn't like the building straight in front of the camera but there wasn't much I could do about it. I'm glad there was that nicely lit building in the back left to distract the eye from the ugly building in the foreground. 

When I was almost done editing, I was looking for a little motion. The photo wasn't quite what I wanted. 

I put it away for a while and went to something else.  When I came back, I added in the birds for some interest and additional motion. 

Shooting from parking garages is fun and frustrating at the same time. I wish I could ask certain buildings to move over while I get my shot! I'm always looking for something I can climb up on that will give me a better view. It's usually not possible but I'll keep searching out those spots!

Have Fun With Your Photos!

Here's a sample of a photo with a fast shutter speed (1/100th of a second) to stop the motion:

The Hard Rock Cafe sign on top of the building in Atlanta using fast shutter speed to freeze the words Save the Planet


Here's the same sign dragging the shutter (2 seconds) to capture the motion of the rotating sign:


The sign on top of the Hard Rock Cafe while dragging the shutter to show the rotating motion


Remember to adjust your aperture and ISO to avoid blown highlights or underexposing.

There's so much you can do with a photo just by changing your shutter speed. Try different shutter speeds on the same subject and see what you come up with. Have fun with it!

The weather's warming up here in Atlanta, and I'm excited to get back out and scout for photo opportunities. I'm also hoping to get some more landscape photos. Georgia has some beautiful parks and natural areas. 

Enjoy your day!

And see you between the raindrops!