Motion Creates Emotion

Flights of storks are passing through the Arava skies these days, in search of kinder weather. With them appear the photographers, following the birds’ movement and searching for the long awaited moment, otherwise known as the decisive moment. This is a significant point in time, a fraction of a second in which the photographer manages to document a moment that reflects his unique observation and his intuition in pressing the button at the right time. Some photography students in the Arava told me about the storks that had arrived. We were all excited, and at sunrise we went out into the field to get a spectacular view of the crowds of storks. To me, it was clear that creating an interesting image depended on finding movement.

Using movement, we are able to bring the excitement and vitality that exist in reality to life in our images. A photograph is a two-dimensional world, and so in order to create photos with emotional depth (different than spatial depth, which we’ll discuss in the next issue) we must use elements which people are likely to connect with – the excitement of something that’s about to happen, like a stork raising its foot off the ground and taking flight, a running deer just about to make contact with the ground, a football player’s foot the moment before he kicks the ball, or the exact moment in which a drop of water trickles down from the fish just extracted by a white-throated kingfisher.

Photography is a unique language, one which freezes movement and reality. A language of curiosity and mystery, capturing moments we don’t usually pay attention to in our daily lives.

How do we create movement in photography?

Movement can be created using spreading or freezing. Spreading movement can be seen in the marks left by running water, or in the wings of storks moving in slow motion. Freezing movement and capturing it sharply can be achieved by predicting the movement and its direction. A running giraffe moves at a different speed than a bird in flight, a speeding car or a tiger chasing a deer, and so we must be prepared for each scenario with an appropriate shutter speed.

When following movement with a camera, freezing the movement with a fast shutter isn’t enough – it’s important to keep pace with the photographed object.

In order to photograph the movement of clouds, a sunset, a growing plant or the changing of the seasons, we can use the advanced yet simple technique of time lapse, which is available on most phones. You create a sequence of images that “accelerates time” by displaying a large amount of images in one second, usually 24 images per second. The amount of images depends on the desired length of the video. In professional photography, you can control the time intervals between shots.

Movement can also be seen where an impression of motion remains, like the movement of flowing water that remains on land even after the water dries up. Movement can be expressed by spreading several details together. Imagine the movement of people at a busy train station in India, the movement of crowds at a Tokyo junction, the movement of dancers performing “Swan Lake”, or the movement of star orbits in the sky around the North Star.

I recommend seasoning your photos with movement. Motion in images creates emotion, expands the viewer’s imagination to include what happened before and after the captured moment, and connects the viewer to the depicted situation.

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