How to imitate motion blur in the studio

August 27, 2016   2381 views

motion blur, mixed light in studio with strobe and continuous lights

And again about mixed light! For me it is a way to bring really amazing effects in my photography. To bring unique style to my picture. But sometimes it is also a way to create outdoor reality in my studio.

Especially when you found a motorcycle in the studio! Yes, it happens when you friend brought it into you studio for his shoot and gave your permission to use it in your creative project. We will take this motorcycle and make a fast drive with my model friend along dusty road. Of course, along imaginable dusty road.

To create the effect of fast driving (as if the picture was taken outdoor) the motorcycle would be blurred in the direction of its movement, but the background could be sharp. As happens when you shoot moving objects with not very short shutter speed - typical motion blur.

But this is a studio shoot and I didn't want to blur it properly. I had a model in the picture and I wanted to keep her sharp. She is beautiful and I don't want to blur her with the motorcycle. What is not impossible outdoor is possible in the studio. To have motion blur only over some part of imaginable moving object I have to light them (the model and motorcycle) separately: the model with strobe light and the motorcycle with continuous light. How to separate lights? Very easy. I put a strobe light softbox above model and directed it just to her trying to find position and direction to have this light only over the model. And I put two continuous standard reflectors in front of the motorcycles trying to have this light only over the motorcycle, not touching the model.

To match the color temperatures of these light sources (strobe light as you know is around 5300 K, while continuous is approximately 3200K) I put 201 Full CT Blue conversion gels over the reflectors. This made they color temperature the same as strobe has.

Now I had something to do with the background, and to spice it up I decided to fill it with “dust” coming from the motorcycle wheels. Of course, the role of “dust” was played by smoke machine. I put it behind the motorcycle. You remember I didn’t need to blur this “dust”, and I needed to look this “dust” dramatic and impressive. The best way for this light is behind “the dust” (“the smoke”) facing to the camera. Of course, with strobe light. With no gels. It has the same color temperature as the softbox has and the reflectors with 201 conversion gels have too.

Now it is time to make pictures. Since I needed textured “dust”, I was getting it only during several seconds after the smoke machine created small portion of smoke. I need it only behind the model, not in front. After several seconds It became “a fog” giving no possibilities to take pictures. You should wait for several minutes before the next portion of the smoke.

So the team must work fast! “The action” command, one of my assistant presses the smoke machine button, the model imitates courageous driving and I make several shots moving my camera fast with imaginary movement while my second assistant waves a piece of cardboard making the model’s hair fly up.

And that’s it! I should add that this picture doesn’t have any Photoshop postprocessing and this motion blur is created only by my moving of my camera. I removed in Photoshop just only one small detail - the side stand under the bike - the weak model couldn’t hold this heavy motorcycle without additional support.

Good Luck!

Camera: Hasselblad H3DII
Lens: Hasselblad 2.8 80 mm
Aperture: f/8
Shutter speed: 1/6 seconds
ISO: 200

motion blur, mixed light in studio with strobe and continuous lights