In most of my sessions, I’m always trying to stop the action of my subjects rather than show the movement. I would say the majority of my clients prefer to see sharp images of themselves and of their children. Sometimes the imagery, for me, feels a little bit static. So when I had the opportunity to photograph the Keeneland Races in Kentucky a few months ago, I decided to do something a little bit different and create some images with movement in them by slowing down my shutter speed to create the feeling of moving along with the subject. This creates a very soft image, but it still has enough detail that you can see what is happening. I found that it takes a lot of practice to get it right, or at least get close enough to create the illusion of movement. Recently, I have started to look for opportunities to do this in my work. As a professional photographer, I want to raise the bar for myself and be able to show my range of abilities by creating different effects in my work. Capturing the moment is still the most important aspect of my storytelling imagery, but how I do that is what I’m trying to change.
Once again, I used Sigma’s new 18-250mm F3.5-6.3 DC MACRO OS HSM/DC MACRO HSM, which has the amazing flexibility of not only being a wide-angle lens, but also a telephoto, and a macro lens. It is also a very light lens and easy to carry around. In this case, I was thoroughly enjoying its telephoto capabilities. Photographing horses has been a passion of mine for a very long time, but I am fairly new to photographing races of any kind. I was delighted to discover how fast this lens actually is. In this first set of images, I followed one horse with a very slow shutter speed. The overall impact of the slow shutter created the exact feeling I was looking for, it gives you the sense of being on the horse and racing at a very high speed. I was also moving my camera along with the horse to create even more movement. It took a little bit of practice to get my settings where I wanted them, but I was very pleased with the overall effect. These three images were photographed in secession. The first image as the horse is racing towards me, the second when the horse is in front of me and third as the horse is moving away from me. These images were shot within in seconds of each other and the 18-250mm F3.5-6.3 DC MACRO OS HSM/DC MACRO HSM, was ready to fire each time. If you take a close look at the images, the legs of the horse almost take on a ghost like feature since they are moving the fastest leaving the Jockey just this side of being in focus. Clearly the images give the viewer the feeling of movement.
The next set of images were created at the same event, only this time I used a much higher shutter speed to stop the action so that I could compare the difference. These images tell a completely different story. You still get the feeling a movement mainly because the horse is running on the ground and you can see the dust from the back hooves and because of the position of the horse’s legs in the air.
In this set of images, only a little movement in the tail of the horse and the height of their hooves off the ground give you the feeling of speed. This is not a judgment call on which set of images is better to demonstrate what is happened on the field. It’s more of an example of some different ways to tell a story by slowing down your shutter speed.