Shooting Challenge: Cinemagraph

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The photograph is a powerful form to capture a moment in time. But with new digital technologies, can we do more within a photo? For this week's Shooting Challenge, you're going to blend still and motion pictures. You'll create cinemagraphs.

The Challenge

Create a cinemagraph. (And be sure to read the resolution requirements below, along with the belated due date.)


OK, so what's a cinemagraph? It's technically a well-looped animated GIF, with isolated animation so that still images blend seamlessly with ideas of motion.

The Technique

If you haven't heard of cinemagraphs before, that's only because they're relatively new.


While most animated GIFs are little more than cheesy jokes (not that I can't appreciate a good old animated GIF), creators Jamie Beck and Kevin Burg pushed the concept forward in a way that, well, is absolutely striking.

No doubt, a lot of their success with cinemagraphs is their taste and restraint. (Duh, they're artists.)


But how can you make a cinemagraph, from a technical standpoint? You actually shoot video, not stills. Then you isolate the parts of the image you want to move in post-production.

Photojojo has an excellent tutorial on the matter, as do photographers Fernando Baez and Christopher Mathew Burt. (links via petapixel)


Less is more. Your best bet may be to start in a simple, controlled scene indoors and work your way out.

The Example

Our lead photo is by the tagteam Jamie Beck and Kevin Burg who've brought cinemagraphs to their sudden rock star status. And there's more where that came from - check out a big gallery here.


The Rules

1. Submissions need to be your own.
2. Photos must be taken since this contest was announced (read more on that above).
3. Explain, briefly, the equipment, settings, technique and story behind shot.
4. Email submissions to, not me.
5. Only give us one file this week that's 640x360.
6. One submission per person.
7. Use the proper SUBJECT line in your email (more info on that below)
8. You agree to the Standard Contest Rules - though we DO accept non-US resident submissions.
9. If the image contains any material or elements that are not owned by you and/or which are subject to the rights of third parties, and/or if any persons appear in the image, you are responsible for obtaining, prior to submission of the photograph, any and all releases and consents necessary to permit the exhibition and use of the image in the manner set forth in these rules without additional compensation. If any person appearing in any image is under the age of majority in their state/province/territory of residence the signature of a parent or legal guardian is required on each release.


Send your best photo by Wednesday, July 6th at 9AM Eastern to with "Cinemagraph" in the subject line. Save your files as GIFs that are exactly 640x360, and use a FirstnameLastnameCinemagraph.gif naming convention.

Include your shooting summary (camera, lens, ISO, etc) in the body of the email along with a story of the shot in a few sentences. And don't skip this story part because it's often the most enjoyable part for us all beyond the shot itself!


Oh, and thanks to Jesus Zendejas for the awesome tip!

Mark Wilson is the founder of Philanthroper, a daily deal site for nonprofits.