Photo Tip “Flash-Drag Effect“

Photo tip – Use the flash-drag effect for dynamic photos of motion

Motion blurring is often used for creative purposes in photography. There are different types of motion blurring that we differentiate between. One type of motion blurring is the flash-drag effect. This effect is often used in sport photography to capture speed and dynamic. The following image illustrates this effect in an untypical subject situation.

Pope Benedikt XVI. in Regensburg

This somewhat unorthodox image of Pope Benedict XVI was captured during his visit to Germany in September 2006, in Regensburg.


  • Monopod

Technical settings

  • Manual focus
    • Fast motion at close-range: it is difficult to focus the camera and can result in unwanted shutter lags or inaccurate focusing
  • Aperture Priority Auto Exposure (AV) with diaphragm of 1:6.3
    • Use of a small diaphragm diameter (=larger f-number) may have been advantageous (to compensate for inaccurate focus)
  • Exposure time – 1/60 seconds
    • To create more dynamic in images from motion blurring, the period of exposure shouldn’t be too short as otherwise motion is “frozen”. If the shutter speed is too slow on the other hand, this can result in undesired blurring. The best thing to do is to take some test shots of comparably fast objects at the same distance, from the same motion angle and with the same focal length.
    • Good starting values for these images
      • Pedestrian: 1/4 second
      • Jogger: 1/8 second
      • Car: 1/30 second
  • ISO rate - 400 ISO
    • Using the ISO rate, it is sometimes possible to achieve the correct exposure with the desired time-diaphragm combination
  • Focal length – 50mm (ca. 75mm 35mm equivalent focal length)
  • Burst mode
    • Use the burst mode to capture a selection of images of fast moving subjects – more on this can be found in Photo tip “Burst mode“

Follow the moving subjects with your camera during exposure! Slower shutter speeds results in interesting fore and background blurring due to the wipe effect.

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