Michigan Lake, Movement, Leap into Spring, Tutorial, Lake, Portrait

Rain/Water [Leap into Spring!]

Back in March, while we were still in the planning stages of the Leap into Spring! Photo Challenge, I had an idea of what I wanted to photograph for this prompt. Keeping in mind that I wasn’t altogether sure that there would actually be rain on a day when I would be free to take photos, life and responsibilities have a a habit of getting in the way sometimes and I didn’t want to be scrambling at the last minute.

Luckily my awesome, sweet (and maybe a little crazy) friend agreed to model for me again, even if that did mean waking up at a ridiculous hour to wade into Michigan Lake in a sundress, in Chicago, in March. We had some beautiful fog that morning though!

It turned out that getting these photos taken ahead of time was a good idea, because we really didn’t have all too much rain in Chicago this April.

Capturing Movement

I thought that a lot of us would have been taking photos involving movement for this prompt, be it raindrops falling, kids splashing in puddles, once-small creeks flowing with the fullness of spring rain, or like in these photos, the breaking of small waves against the shore. Water is always so full of life and movement, even the seemingly still surface of a pond is often teeming with wildlife just out of eyeshot. Frogs, fish, waterbirds and various insects making ripples that break the calm surface of the water.

I’ve also got some human movement in these photographs too, I made my friend run up and down the shore while I photographed her and also photographed her wading in and out of the lake (don’t worry, she doesn’t hate me too much for it!)

Freezing Movement

The shutter speed that you choose is a key component to capturing motion in your photograph. A slow shutter speed will blur a moving object, and a high shutter speed will result in a sharper focus on your moving subject. When you use a high shutter speed to freeze motion, you should still try to capture your subjects in such a way that conveys to the viewer that they are actually moving. A person mid-run, or the waves just at the moment they break to crash against the shore, freezing the whole scene captures the motion as it happens with minimal loss of detail.

In determining the shutter speed you will need to freeze motion, every situation is unique and comes with it’s own set of challenges. A good rule of thumb though, to avoid motion blur and to freeze your subject, is to not go under a shutter speed of 1/125 sec. Try it out and see if it works, depending on the speed your subject is moving, your distance from the subject and the lighting conditions you may have to take the shutter speed higher. To expose properly you may have to then adjust your aperture or ISO.

Using Motion Blur

Sometimes you can lower your shutter speed in order to use motion blur as an artistic element in your photographs. In the above photo, my shutter speed was fast enough to freeze my subject walking slowly towards me, but not quite fast enough to freeze the small wave breaking behind her. There’s only a little amount of blur on the wave, but more than enough to give a real feeling of movement to the water in the image. You can do this to a greater extent with faster moving objects, for example a person standing still on a train platform while a train is blurred, moving quickly behind them or a longer exposure on a fast moving river to blur the movement of the water.

Try switching your camera to Shutter Priority Mode and using it at different shutter speeds to see the effect that it has on movement in your photographs. You might want to use a tripod or place your camera on a solid surface for very long exposures.

I’m teaming up with Alicia of Project Alicia and Kristi of Live and Love Out Loud to bring you the Leap Into Spring! Photo Challenge – a 6-week photography challenge aimed at capturing the beauty of spring.

Just a few details:

Not experiencing spring in your part of the world? No problem. All are invited regardless of geographic location.

Two prompts to choose from each week! Share your favorite images inspired by one of our weekly prompts. Or both. It’s totally up to you.

The linky will remain open from 9am Friday – 9am Thursday CST. Leap Into Spring! blog post or Flickr photo, not your blog’s home page or Flickr photostream. Feel free to share your photos in our Leap Into Spring! Flickr Group as well.

We’ll be showcasing some of your lovely photos by pinning our favorite submissions to our Leap Into Spring! Pinterest Board each week.

We love Instagram just as much as you do! We’ll be on the lookout for your lovely spring photos, so be sure to use the #leapintospring hashtag.

Last, but not least, don’t forget to grab our lovely button!

spring photography challenge, kristi live and love out loud photo challenge, project alicia photo challenge, bumbles and light photo challenge,

Next week’s prompt will be Green/Grass. For a complete list of upcoming prompts, head on over to the Leap Into Spring! Photo Challenge page.

Thank you to the following sponsors for their generous donations to the upcoming Leap Into Spring! Photo Challenge Finale Giveaway:


ThisLife is an online service that automagically organizes photos and videos from your computer, Facebook, Instagram and more, in a chronological timeline; safely storing them in the cloud. Now available on your iPhone and iPad as well.

Topaz Labs

Topaz Labs’ innovative image enhancing plug-ins improve your workflow and streamline productivity with its easy-to-use interface. Powerful. Professional. Flexible. Available for Photoshop, PSE, Lightroom and more.


Impeccable service. Affordable prices. AdoramaPix is an awesome source for fine quality photo prints, photo books, photo framing, gallery wrapped canvases and all of your photo finishing needs.


Life-n-Reflection is your one-stop shop for gorgeous custom card, photo album and collage templates and photo enhancing textures as well.

Veronica Armstrong Photography

Veronica Armstrong is a talented New York based photographer who creates “pretty prints for pretty places”. Her growing collection of prints are a feast for the eyes – textures and light reign supreme.

Forshee Designs

Practical. Pretty. Handmade. Forshee Designs is overflowing with beautifully handmade camera strap covers, laptop sleeves, iPad/tablet/e-reader sleeves, aprons and more. Custom orders accepted as well.


  1. Rebecca, what a fantastic tutorial on shutter speed and capturing movement. I love your photos, especially with the foggy atmosphere around the lake! I really like the one of her walking out of the lake with the wave breaking behind her. What a brave and amazing friend to brave those freezing water temperatures!!
    Tish´s last post ..Leap Into Spring | Rain/Water

  2. How lucky to have already taken pics! They’re fun and your friend is brave. lol. And thanks so much for sharing these great tips on motion. I know life as a mom is busy, so I really appreciate all the time you put into making this such a successful challenge!
    alicia´s last post ..Leap Into Spring Challenge: Rain/Water

  3. These are beautiful! I got a little cold seeing your friend in Lake Michigan. Brrrr! She is awesome. 🙂

  4. Pingback: Leap Into Spring Photo Challenge: Rain/Water | Live and Love...Out Loud

  5. Pingback: Pretty Little Collage {Wordless/Wordful Wednesday} | Live and Love...Out Loud

  6. Pingback: Finale [Leap into Spring!] | Bumbles & Light

  7. Pingback: Leap Into Spring Photo Challenge: Finale Giveaway | Live and Love...Out Loud

Comments are closed.