Motion blur: a walk along the Seine

Mis à jour : mai 4

Motion blur is an effect given by a moving object. The result is a series of lines that follow the trajectory of this movement and that give the photograph a very particular visual texture. It is commonly used to photograph water or the car tour at night. The principle is simple, if an object falls, the line will be vertical. If it is an object moving on the horizon, the line will be horizontal. So with the rest of possible movements (diagonals, curves, circular, etc).


The Seine is an ideal setting for practicing motion photography. However, not all hours of the day are appropriate. If there is a lot of light, the possibilities of regulating your camera, even taken to the extreme or using polarizing filters, will not allow you to take the photo you want. In addition, to take this type of photos you will need a tripod or stable support and a remote shutter or set the temporary shutter. This will prevent camera shake from distorting the movement of the subject.

desenfoque movimiento barcos en el Sena


1. Choose the place.

Looking around you you will realize that around the Seine there is a lot of movement: boats, people, water, clouds, etc. Decide what movement you want to photograph.

Boats come and go in both directions of the river except on the Île de la Cité and Île Saint Louis sides, which are one way. If you want to photograph people, look for the pedestrian bridges or the circuits next to the water so that you have them in full. The Eiffel Tower area is usually full at any time of the day with people coming and going and it also has the carrousel.

At sunset on a sunny day the water of the Seine usually turns blue-gray. And when the street lights come on they will give you yellow-orange reflections. In addition, in the blue hour the boats will have their own luminaires with varied colors.

The piers on both sides of the Seine have been pedestrianized for some time. This means that if you want to include the movement of cars you will have to go beyond the Bercy bridge or the Eiffel tower. From the Grenelle bridge you have a view of a small part of the Quai Louis Blériot.

Finally, do not hesitate to include the metro or the RER -suburban train- in the list of your possible interesting movements. Their paths are visible on the Bercy, Tolbiac, Bir Hakeim and Mirabeau bridges.

desenfoque de movimiento agua en el Sena

Let's do it:

2. Find the fixed point.

Unless you want the entire photograph to be a great motion picture, look for immovable objects or constructions that accentuate your subject by opposition. They can be bridges or parts of bridges, buildings, ground details. Everything in the water - moored boats included - or tree branches are in motion, so you may want to avoid using them as landmarks.

desenfoque de movimiento pasantes torre Eiffel

3. Configure your camera

Using the S mode - shutter speed preference - is probably not enough for you. Then use manual mode.

For that, the first thing is to determine a very slow speed, in relation to the object you are photographing. To compensate for the excess light that will enter for a long exposure time, you will have to adjust the sensitivity to the minimum (Lo1 / Lo2 / Lo3). Also, depending on the light, you may have to reduce the aperture of the diaphragm (f / 14 or more) which will decrease the incidence of light and give more clarity to your subject.


Motion blur is one of the most artistic effects you can work with. Feel free to explore.


manège del Sena Torre Eiffel




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