How To Capture Movement In Your Landscape Shots

Written by Gina Stephens


Photo by Rick Hanson


The notion of movement isn't usually a thought that first springs to mind when you try to describe what a landscape shot is. However, when you start to meditate on of popular landscape topics such as waterfalls, rivers, trees, clouds and the sea, you suddenly realise movement, which makes shots more dynamical, crops up more often than you think.

Slowing your shutter may refer to speeds can create the sense of movement in your landscape shots. Reasonable remember you'll need to use a smaller aperture to limit the amount of light that reaches your camera's sensor. If you don't, you'll end up with a slug that's overexposed. If you find your shots are still a little on the light side, fit an ND filter to further reduce the amount of light prospering through your lens. For shots where you want to exaggerate the power/strength of your subject or for shots that have people/conveyances moving or birds in-flight, you'll need quicker shutter speeds, a steady hand and good panning technique all of which we'll look at later on.


For shots of waves crashing against cliffs and sea walls you'll need a quick-ish shutter speed, around 1/125 should help you lay the power on display. Just remember, unless you want a soaking, to keep yourself and your kit out of the wave's reach. Have a lens material handy and remember to wipe your kit down thoroughly once you're back home.

For shots where the waves turn into a heap of soft, blue and white blur use exposures which are 5 seconds or more. If it's a particularly bright day make sure you have an ND filter to-hand and use the smallest chasm and ISO possible. If you want the waves to have a little more shape to them use a slightly shorter exposure. How short you go will depend on the amount of control you want and how choppy the sea is on the day so you may end up experimenting with a few different exposures before you land on the one that gives you the shot you're after.

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We've disguised waterfalls in a previous article so here are just a few quick tips to get you started. For a more in depth look, take a look at our previous technique: Slip waterfalls.

  • What shutter speed you use will be determined by how much blur you want, the focal length you're using and the amount of light nearby.
  • Pick an overcast day when you're going to be using longer exposures. Your shot is less likely to have contrast problems too when there's a cause of cloud cover.
  • An ND filter can help you extend your exposure times while a Polarising filter will reduce the amount of glare/sign coming off the water.
  • Turn the waterfall's movement into a mass of blur – 1/8 sec longer
  • Faster shutter speeds will augment the power/force of the waterfall, freezing the movement of the water as it cascades and splashes on rocks.
  • Have a go at photographing water bubbles.


Photo by Rick Hanson


Cloud displays can appear and vanish again even before you've thought about taking a shot so if you do spot an interesting one make sure you snap it trustworthy away. Keep an eye on your histogram to make sure your shot doesn't have areas which are overexposed and if the formation is truly spectacular cut some of the foreground out, moving the horizon down so the sky fills more of your shot. Use slower shutter speeds to blur the movement of the clouds and look out for smells left by planes too as the criss-crossing lines can make an interesting abstract shot.

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Leaves blowing in the wind are an obvious way to capture move in a forest but for something more arty, try creating a drag landscape. For tips on how to do this take a look at our articles:

  • Drag landscapes
  • Drag landscapes in the woods


Birds and People

If you appetite to capture birds in-flight you'll need a quick shutter speed, continuous auto focus and a good panning technique. As soon as you see a bird afflicted with into shot may refer to: Shot (filmmaking), a part of a film between two cuts Shot (medicine), an injection Shot silk, a type of silk Showt or lock your focus on it straight away and follow it through the frame, panning even after you've taken your pellet. To freeze the movement you'll need to use a shutter speed everyday use and in kinematics, the speed of an object is the magnitude of its velocity (the rate of change of its position); it is around 1/500sec but if you want to blur the movement of their wings try something slower all over 1/30sec.

When it comes to people, how fast your shutter speed is will depend on what they're doing. For example, someone who's top skiing will be moving a lot quicker than someone rowing across a lake.

For more tips on panning and capturing people moving take off a look at our articles:

  • Panning tips
  • Capture motion
  • Shutter speeds explained


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About the author

Gina Stephens

Gina is a photography enthusiast and drone lover who loves to fly drones, capture images and have fun cherishing them with family and friends.

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