To photograph moving objects at different shutter speeds while panning – following the motion with the subject in the centre of the frame
The shots for this exercise were taken in the same session as those for Exercise 4: Shutter Speeds – cars on a local road with a 30mph speed limit. Panning shots were taken of cars travelling in both directions.
I selected to use shutter priority mode to have control over the shutter speeds – starting at 1/1000s and halving the shutter speed (doubling the exposure time) all the way down to 1/15s. My expectations were, even given the modest speed of the cars, that I would struggle to capture any decent shots below about 1/60s.
Pre-focus was set for the centre of each lane for each shot.
[EXIF: Sony A900, CZ24-70 @ 24mm, ISO400, f/5, 1/500 sec]
[EXIF: Sony A900, CZ24-70 @ 24mm, ISO400, f/3.2, 1/1000 sec]
[EXIF: Sony A900, CZ24-70 @ 24mm, ISO400, f/8, 1/250 sec]
[EXIF: Sony A900, CZ24-70 @ 24mm, ISO200, f/8, 1/125 sec]
[EXIF: Sony A900, CZ24-70 @ 24mm, ISO200, f/11, 1/60 sec]
For cars travelling in this direction I failed to get any sharp shots below 1/60s.
More distant shots
[EXIF: Sony A900, CZ24-70 @ 24mm, ISO400, f/4, 1/1000 sec]
[EXIF: Sony A900, CZ24-70 @ 24mm, ISO400, f/4.5, 1/500 sec]
[EXIF: Sony A900, CZ24-70 @ 24mm, ISO400, f/6.3, 1/250 sec]
[EXIF: Sony A900, CZ24-70 @ 24mm, ISO400, f/9, 1/125 sec]
[EXIF: Sony A900, CZ24-70 @ 24mm, ISO400, f/10, 1/125 sec]
[EXIF: Sony A900, CZ24-70 @ 24mm, ISO200, f/6.3, 1/60 sec]
[EXIF: Sony A900, CZ24-70 @ 24mm, ISO200, f/11, 1/30 sec]
[EXIF: Sony A900, CZ24-70 @ 24mm, ISO100, f/16, 1/15 sec]
Conclusions drawn from this exercise
Panning is an excellent method to show the speed and dynamism of a subject whilst keeping the subject sharp. The blurring of the background in panned shots with slower shutter speeds makes the subject ‘pop out’ and creates a much more engaging image.
Taking similar shots (shutter speeds, distance to subject) with a more distant background will further enhance the blurring of the background as the background will ‘move further’ relative to the sensor plane in the camera. I will be taking a series of shots in that situation and will update this post once I have taken them to show the difference.
The ratio of good:bad shots decreases when compared to using a stationary camera – whether hand-held or tripod mounted. Since this was the first time I had attempted panning with a purpose in mind it became clear that if this is a technique that I plan to use in the future then I will need to practice more.
Body positioning and dynamics are also important to getting good results. My first attempt at panning cars travelling from right to left were taken with my feet spread at approximately 45° to the angle of travel of the cars, with my left foot forward and I struggled to get even a reasonable proportion of keepers. Keeping the same stance (left foot forward at 45° to the travel of the cars) my keeper ratio improved.
A quick analysis and repetition of the body positioning and panning gave me the answer to this. The improvement in good:bad ration was obtained when starting with my back slightly ‘coiled’ and unwinding as I panned. I switched my stance to right foot forward and re-shot the slower shutter speeds of cars travelling from right to left which led to an improvement in keeper ratio.
I actually have two preferred shots.
From a technical perspective my preferred shot is of the blue florists van – shot 5.11. The background and wheels are clearly blurred while the car body is sharp and good detail can be seen in the subject. A closer crop emphasises the movement even more, as below:
From an aesthetic perspective however my clear favourite is the blue Audi TT – shot 5.12. At the slower shutter speed the blur of the wheels and especially the background makes the car stand out wonderfully and gives a real sense of speed. I asked my two teenage daughters to guess how fast the car was travelling and both said 50-60mph – almost double the speed the car was travelling. This is emphasised even more with a crop and slight rotation of the shot – below:
Who said the camera never lies? 😉