Monday, 6 September 2010

Shutter speeds - Panning

Exercise: Panning with different shutter speeds (10-12 photographs)

This exercise entails reviewing a series of shots taken at different shutter speeds whilst panning with the camera aiming to keep the subject sharp but show different degrees of movement.

As this is a completely new technique to me, I have to say I was a bit apprehensive about how these images would turn out. Before I'd even taken a shot I had convinced myself I would fail miserably. In the end I had to force myself to get on with it - how difficult can it be after all, it's only the first chapter of the course.

Well, as I had expected, it turn out it can be quite difficult to get a great shot and I have a new admiration for professional sports photographers who make action shots look easy. In the end I'm very pleased with these images (for a first attempt).

I took the images for this exercise at the East of Scotland Cart Club in Crail, Fife with shutter speeds varying from 1/1600 of a sec to 1/60 of a sec. The camera was set to shutter priority with adjustments to aperture and exposure being made automatically.

These first 4 images were taken at the fastest shutter speeds and show no visible movement in either the carts or background.
 Fig.1 - shutter speed 1/1600
Fig.2 - shutter speed 1/1250

Fig. 3 - shutter speed 1/1000

Fig. 4 - shutter speed 1/800

In the next 4 images as the shutter speeds get slower you begin to see movement in the tyres of the carts and some blurring in the background. It is more difficult to maintain a point of focus through the panning and this results in a lot of  "missed" shots, almost there but just not quite right. The 4 images below were the best on the day, shot between 1/500 sec and 1/100 sec shutter speed.
Fig. 5 - shutter speed 1/500

Fig. 6 - shutter speed 1/200 

Fig.7 - shutter speed 1/125

Fig.8. shutter speed 1/100

As you can see from the images above its not until the shutter speed is 1/125 sec or slower that the movement in the image becomes clearly visible and the marked blurring of the background gives the impression of speed. With a slower shutter speed it is increasingly difficult to maintain a precise focus point even when using the Al Servo focus mode in camera. The next 2 images were taken at 1/80 sec and 1/60 sec shutter speed.

Fig.9 - shutter speed 1/80 sec

Fig. 10 - shutter speed 1/60 sec
These were by far the most difficult images to get right. Maintaining focus on the driver was especially challenging. Technically all the images taken at a shutter speed slower than 1/60 sec showed both subject and background completely blurred. I'm sure that this in part was due to my poor technique at panning and with enough practise it would have been possible to capture an image that was acceptable.

Out of all the images taken for both of the shutter speed exercises, my favourite photograph has to be the image in this exercise (Fig.8) above. Knowing how difficult it was to achieve is part of the reason but, for me it is more dynamic and clearly expresses a sense of speed and movement. Due to the close crop and some blurring of both the foreground and background of the image the sense of movement feels more pronounced.

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