Photography Tip - creating motion blur for car photography

Example of motion blue with main subject frozon - SETUP: Nikon D300 with Nikkor AF 50mm f/1.8D @ f/2.8 ISO 800 1/10thIf you have never manually controlled the shutter speed on your DSLR to create motion blur, then you are missing out on a lot of fun!  Using a slow shutter speed and a steady panning technique can transform a mundane photo of a car driving down a road into an image showing a vehicle seemingly cruising at warp speed.  


  • Nikon D300
  • Nikkor AF 50mm f/1.8D
  • manual exposure mode
  • f/2.8  ISO 800  1/10th  AF-C (AI Servo)  single focus point 


  • find a car driving towards you (driving away just produces a rear end shot)
  • start tracking it through your view finder while it is still some distance away
  • twist your body at the hips panning at the exact same speed as the vehicle
  • wait for the vehicle to pass in front of a background with the most lights possible
  • press the shutter all the way, but still keep panning (like follow through in a tennis swing) 

If you can maintain a focus lock and match the car's speed with your panning speed the car will appear sharp while the background elements will all be blurred.  The shutter speed needed will depend on the time of day and ambient light.  The suggested settings above can be a starting point for night shots.