Motion blur can be used to give the impression of speed, but it affects both the front and the back of the moving object:

fast car

Drawings instead show a trailing blur with sharp leading edges:

Flash running

Is there any way to achieve this effect without postprocessing such as these?


trailing blur


fast bike


2 Answers 2


No, you can't do it without postprocessing, but a similar, purely photographic effect, can be achieved by the clever use of flash. See the following questions:

When should you use a normal flash vs a second-curtain flash?

How does dragging the shutter work?

How to motion-blur the background while keeping the subject well exposed and in focus?


If you have control of the lighting you can. Shoot in a relatively dark environment and use a relatively long exposure time combined with second curtain sync, often called dragging the shutter.

Normally the flash fires as soon as the shutter opens. That's called front curtain or first curtain sync. Second curtain (or rear curtain) sync delays the flash until just before the shutter curtain begins to close.

  • The brightness of the blurry part of your image will be determined by the ambient light and the exposure time.
  • The brightness of the "frozen" part of your image will be determined by the power of the flash.
  • By balancing the ratio of the brightness of the ambient light with the brightness of the flash, you can balance the amount of blur in relation to the sharp part of the image.
  • You'll need to press the shutter button in anticipation of where your subject will be at the end of the exposure when the flash fires.

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