#21 in a series of background briefs

The motarri principle

Moving objects cannot be rendered invisible in a TCQ photograph unless they are in the category of “moving objects that are routinely rendered invisible” (motarri).

  • “motarri”: What to know

    The motarri principle serves one purpose:

    It ensures that viewers of a photograph are shown moving objects that the camera saw.

    The motarri principle ensures that TCQ photographers do not manually choose an exposure so lengthy that familiar moving objects — cars moving on a city street, people walking on the sidewalk, waves on a body of water — are rendered invisible or unrecognizably blurred.

    The only photographers who need to pay attention to motarri are photographers who manually choose very long exposures.


    (Cameras on automatic settings will not create motarri issues, because motarri is literally defined by “what happens when cameras are on automatic settings”; see #1 and #2 below.)

    For the vast majority of photographers, “motarri” will never be an issue.

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    Motarri is a consideration in both Q4 and Q5.

    The page on trust explains the importance in TCQ photographs of “what the camera saw.”

  • 1. Which moving objects CAN be rendered invisibly (or unrecognizably blurred) in TCQ photos?

    The answer is “motarri subjects,” that is, “moving objects that are routinely rendered invisible” when using a typical device’s automatic-exposure settings.

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    Examples of “motarri” subjects would be a baseball pitch in flight, a bullet in flight, falling raindrops, the wire spokes on a spinning bicycle wheel, the blades of a spinning high-speed fan.

    TCQ puts no restrictions on how clearly, how blurrily, or even how visibly those kinds of objects have to be depicted.

    In order of increasingly long shutter speeds, in a TCQ-eligible photo “motarri” objects can be depicted as:

    • frozen (still)
    • blurred but recognizable
    • unrecognizably blurred

    • not visible at all

    Why does motarri use “automatic settings” to determine what’s normal?

  • 2. Which moving objects CANNOT be rendered invisibly (or unrecognizably blurred) in TCQ photos?

    The answer is “NON-motarri subjects,” that is, moving objects that are NOT routinely rendered invisible when using a typical device’s automatic-exposure settings.

    (Click to open and close drop-down)


    Examples of NON-motarri subjects would be waves in a sea or lake, moving vehicles on a city street, moving people, moving animals.

    For a photo to meet Q5 and Q7, non-motarri objects can only be depicted as:

    • frozen (still)
    • blurred but recognizable

    If non-motarri objects (#2 above) are “unrecognizably blurred” or “not visible at all” in the photograph, then the photograph is considered TCQ-ineligible. It cannot meet Q5 or Q7 and cannot qualify for the “Guaranteed TCQ” label no matter how it is processed or labeled.


Millions of photographers carry a “motarri tester” most of the time. It’s called a “smartphone,” and when set to automatic it can be used to snap a photo of anything moving in a scene and instantly indicate whether the subject is “motarri” or not.

Why doesn’t TCQ allow my favorite manipulation?