Motion in figure photography

Having moving objects in your figure photos almost always create extraordinary visuals that sometimes do look like that was added in post-production but be assured all the effects on the pictures below are practical effects achieved with long exposure times and creativity.

A few examples how I spiced up some of my figure photos with moving objects and motion blur.

As far as I know my first figure photo that included a moving object was the one of Princess from Fullani. I did this one back in 2008 and I still like it a lot for its simplicity. Originally I never planned to include that kind of movement but when I set up the ribbon around her and took the picture, I found the composition somewhat boring. But when I ended up nudging the strings gently it wiggled in a way that looked similar to the flow of a ribbon in rhythmic gymnastics.

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The purple ribbon placed around the figure is attached to thin yarn strings.

From that point on, every now and then I started to included various moving objects into my pictures. I also experimented with floating water, like in the shower setting with Ritsuko or more recently the “coffee shot” with Chino. In order to let water “flow” you just have to extend your shutter speed to a point, that it will look all smooth and seamless. Basically in a studio without using any flashlight this will start to happen at around 1/15 s to 1 s or more. If you want to achieve the same effect outside, let say with at a fountain or river it might be wise to have some ND filters at hand.

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Another “fun” project I did once was the “moving library” shot with Index. For this scenario I used a letter case as a bookshelf and a fan for blowing in some down feathers. As you can imagine it took a couple of takes to get it right. Also: the feathers messed up the studio quite a bit.

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I binded all the books behind her myself but in the end, this added nothing to the scenery.

With movement in you composition you likely will end up doing tons of photos just to get one right. On the other hand, each of them is unique and since we live in a digital era you can also often combine different shots afterwards by using multiple layers. For example this picture showing Sanya in mid combat consist of two seperate layers with one explosion on each of them.

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The explosions are made with firecrackers on a new year’s eve.

One thing that I definitely want to try again at a bigger scale, maybe outside at night are longtime exposure light trails. I did those once at the “Shironeko Project” shot and they turned out really good. Therefore I want to exploit this technique a little further.

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Those light trails are archived trough tiny LEDs on a thin wire.

Sometimes I also use smoke in my compositions. Therefore I bought a small fog machine and some smoke fluid. I never regretted this purchase because the fog machine is such a creative gadget you can use not only for figure photos but also for parties as well. If you ever come across one just give it a try. The only thing that you also might need is some sort of hose if you want to properly direct the fog. Otherwise the machine will just strongly blow into one direction. Also, with a longer hose you also be able to slowdown your smoke so that it will sit around like real fog does.

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Actually the top-hat and the smoke just helped to cover Louises ugly base.

As you can see I’m constantly looking for new techniques or objects that might look great as moving objects in my figure photos.

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When I saw this retro toy I instantly thought to myself: That thing would make an interesting background for a figure shot. It took a while to get the movement and the shutter speed right, but my assumption was correct.

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It is fascinating how you can create an interesting looking picture just by having some motion blur in it. The picture I took from Lala reminded me a lot of my old shooting with Princess nearly ten years ago.

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I really like to add the motion blur of moving options as an extra eyecatcher to my photos. Even if the result is more random and often require a third or fourth helping hand.

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