It’s fun and pretty easy to capture an animal by freezing the action with a fast shutter speed.
But what if you want to blur the image and feel the motion?
I find that using a medium long lens works the best for me. Long primes like a 500 are a little more difficult to manage. Wide angle doesn’t do much. The above photo was taken with an 80-400 mm lens (at 240mm) at a shutter speed of 1/30, ISO 64, F22.
Shutter speeds to accomplish this motion usually range from 1/15 to 1/30.
How fast the animal is running, how long a lens you have, all play into what shutter speed to use. I’ve taken photos at the same speed as above, but the legs were totally blurred into the background – animal was running faster.
Get into position when you see the opportunity coming toward you. Focus on the running animal and pan with it – release when the moment is right and follow through. Think of hitting a tennis ball. You will get nice background blur by doing this.
Chose a path where the animal will always be in similar light – not in and out of the shade/sun which requires different exposures. If the background changes from light to dark, auto exposure could be tricked. Manual focus or single point auto focus and manual exposure are needed to avoid picking up information from the background.
We will be working on this technique on our upcoming trips to Africa.