I've recently came across an image similar to this: (Source: travmonkey)

bg motion blue

And was really impressed, the picture I found before that one (sadly can't find it again) looking even better, with a really beautiful linear motion blurred background and a crystal clear subject on a bike in the foreground.

Having no idea at all how this could've been produced I looked around and found the site linked in the image source above, however it doesn't say much other than that one has to pan the camera.

Looking a bit around on this site revealed that "second-rear curtain flash" is also used a lot for these kind of images, as per this Q&A. However, in bright daylight I don't think the flash method will have much effect, but panning the camera seems like a really hard task to me.

I have yet to try it out but given the picture above, wouldn't one have to move the camera at the exact same speed as the bike is going? Or is there post-editing in play too? What I specifically don't understand is how there can be no blur on the biker at all, not even the tiniest bit.

If someone could enlighten me on how to do shots like this and what tips and tricks there are to make it easier and better that'd be amazing.

  • Related: How to take a moving object(far distance) in outdoor low light situation? and Where can I practice panning shots? (Hint: There's no substitute for practice when it comes to becoming, and remaining, a good shooter of panning shots. Like hitting a curveball, it's all about timing.) – Michael C Oct 17 '18 at 4:32
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    "What I specifically don't understand is how there can be no blur on the biker at all, not even the tiniest bit." Didn't you look at his shoes? – osullic Oct 17 '18 at 6:59
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    "I have yet to try it out". This saddened me just a tiny bit. Please, try it out. You might surprise yourself. – osullic Oct 17 '18 at 7:00
  • I agree wholeheartedly that there is no substitute for practice and trying things out oneself. Most usefully, with digital, one can review immediately and try again right away. And again.... – user59085 Oct 17 '18 at 12:54
  • Thanks to everyone for the input. I'll try it as soon as possible. The other questions helped me a lot to understand it too! – confetti Oct 17 '18 at 19:39

Yes, moving the camera to follow the bicycle is called Panning. It's easy, we can do that, it does not have to exactly precise. Any attempt greatly reduces the subject motion. It is a good way to try to freeze the motion of something like this passing bicycle.

It was not flash, because the near side of the subject is dark, darker than his front for example (no evidence of flash, no brighter spot on the near ground). Also, unless the camera were moving following the bike, the background would not be moving or very blurred. And the flash would try to freeze the background too.

My notion is that we see rear curtain very much more used at night, like seeing a passing car, and its taillights lead a long exposure light trail, but the flash freezes the car at the end of the exposure.

All you have to do is to turn your body and camera to follow the bicycle motion (holding it at same spot in your viewfinder) and then click your shutter, while following the bicycle. With a shutter speed a little slow (dunno, guessing maybe 1/30 sec), the motion will blur the background (moving as you turn the camera), but the camera is following the bicycle rendering it relatively motionless, and it would stay relatively sharp. It should work pretty well the first time you try it.

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    Another good hint it's a pan is that his foot is blurred - a lot less than the background because of relative speeds, but movement nevertheless. – Tetsujin Oct 17 '18 at 4:11
  • ... and the wheel spokes even more so :) – xenoid Oct 17 '18 at 8:42

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