How does one take a photo like this: http://inapcache.boston.com/universal/site_graphics/blogs/bigpicture/2012part2/bp23.jpg

Can this be done without significant post-processing? The people sitting down must have been in that position for a very long time in order to get the required motion from everyone else.

Is such a shot even possible without combining multiple photos later using software?


4 Answers 4


The photo in question could have been taken with (judging from the length of the various blurs) a 2 second or so exposure. Depending on the light this can be done without a ND (neutral density) filter, but a 2 to 4 stop filter might be needed if the ambient light was too high for an appropriate ISO/Aperture/Shutter speed combination. The problem, as you point out, is that the still figures look very still for that length of exposure

Having said that, some of the blurs have a 'stutter' to them which suggests that the final image might be a composite of several shorter (.5 seconds or less?) exposures layered together. This would most likely be done in post, and would allow, with appropriate masking, the still figures (and the dog) to appear relatively motionless.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I think your second paragraph is the true answer. Particularly if one looks at the upper end of the platform, the men wearing white shirts are clearly not smoothly moving as they would be with a true long exposure. There are multiple men who are clearly visible in 5 separate points along the same general vector. I'd wager you've got 5 (maybe 6) images stacked with a mask on the seated people to capture only one of their moments to create the final (artistic licensed) "moment". \$\endgroup\$
    – Drew
    Commented Jan 17, 2013 at 8:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ How do you layer this together? Can you do this in Lightroom? \$\endgroup\$
    – Strawberry
    Commented Apr 3, 2014 at 10:34

According to the photographer himself:

No ND filter

Tripod and long shutter speed, something like f8, 2s, ISO 100...

Contrast adjustment is the only post processing

All we had to do was to ask the photographer :)

Thanks to @Unapiedra and @dpollit for figuring out the photographer's identity and twitter account

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ good work matt.nguyen \$\endgroup\$
    – Regmi
    Commented Mar 7, 2013 at 8:19

This picture may have slight tweaking of the contrast,sharpness and saturation .the picture being taken in India , i can guarantee you the location is as it is in the picture. The local train stops for only a minute, and there are hundreds of people depending on that transportation.

now lets stress on the technique , the Station has a roof thus limiting light enough for the blurred technique. the people do rush helter skelter to and from the train.the shutter speed must be easily around 1/8's .... evidently leaving out the people sitting motionless (Almost Motionless) ....

i have tried it out several times. you can experiment and realize yourself :) happy shooting

  • \$\begingroup\$ Could you stop the time the train stops there? Do you want to replicate the photo for us? That would be really nice to learn what values could have been used. \$\endgroup\$
    – Unapiedra
    Commented Mar 4, 2013 at 12:36

Two multiple photos were taken here. How the got the blur like they have the photographer could only answer. The people sat down motion less is easy.

Take a fast shutter speed shot

Take the long exposure shot

Post process the blur to your liking then mask in the fast shutter layer.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Are you sure it's not just that the people sitting didn't move significantly for the duration of the exposure, and so were not blurred? \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Commented Feb 27, 2013 at 14:01

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