Capturing Motion in Nature

September 06, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Waves of SoyWaves of SoyWind blown soy beans on a hot August day south of Lisbon, IA.

Who needs the ocean when you can watch soy bean fields swaying in the wind on a hot August day?  That was my first impression as I drove by field after field of soy beans and corn being tossed around by the wind.  But how to capture such beauty on a bright sunny day?

Luckily I had brought along a tripod, otherwise the techniques explained below would not work.  When it comes to motion, sometimes it can be captured successfully by using implied movement...branches, leaves, grass or flowers "bending" in the wind...or rain drops "streaking" across the frame at a steep angle.  Within the context of the scene, motion is implied and understood even with a faster shutter speed.

But I wanted to capture the actual movement of the soy beans as they flowed and swirled from the wind, and to do that required a slow shutter speed.  So I set my camera on the tripod and composed the scene...roughly one third sky, two thirds beans...making sure there was some anchor point in the background that would not be moving (the trees).  

I then asked the camera what it could do as far as a shutter speed.  Making sure the Mode was in Aperture Priority, I set the ISO to its lowest setting and cranked up the aperture to f/22, which resulted in a 1/3 of a second shutter speed, more than enough to capture movement.  By decreasing the sensitivity of the sensor (ISO) and using an extremely small aperture (letting less light in the lens), the camera chose a shutter speed to properly expose everything.

For post-processing, the contrast was bumped up and the sky darkened a bit in Photoshop, but otherwise didn't need to do anything else.  You can actually see the movement of the beans in the forefront and the swirly wind patterns on the right side.  

This was a fun experiment, and one that I hope you can try next time you want to portray movement in nature.

 

 


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