The Practicing Photographer

Taking a panning action shot


The Practicing Photographer

with Ben Long

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Video: Taking a panning action shot

Engine roar. >> Hi, I'm Ben Long, and this week on The Practicing Photographer we're going to look at how to pan across a moving subject to get that cool motion blur effect that you get when you're shooting something really fast. I'm here with Josh Figatner, a very gifted videographer who has you've, you've gotten into still photograph lately, Josh. >> Yeah, just over the last couple of years working with you. >> And well, he's doing really good work. And you're interested in helping me get a, a high-speed portrait.
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  2. 1m 35s
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  3. 11h 38m
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    19. Batch exposure adjustments on raw files
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    21. Seizing an opportunity
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    24. Varnishing a photo for a painterly effect
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    29. Setting up an HDR time lapse
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    33. Photo assignment: shooting an egg
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    35. Shooting in your own backyard
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    37. Shooting a product shot in open shade
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    38. Reviewing the product shot images
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    39. Warming up
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    40. Taking a panning action shot
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    41. Scanning polaroid negatives and processing in Photoshop
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    42. Shooting a silhouette
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    84. Taking a quick portrait and directing a subject
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    105. Dry sensor cleaning
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    107. Composing in the center
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    108. Working with an electronic shutter control
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    109. Understanding how to use the Wi-Fi feature in some cameras
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    110. Exploring the software equivalent to graduated ND (neutral density) filters
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    113. Understanding when to go low contrast
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    114. Reasons for shooting images alone
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    115. Working with colored lens filters and converting to black and white
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    116. Waiting for a subject when the light is good
      5m 2s

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Watch the Online Video Course The Practicing Photographer
11h 47m Appropriate for all May 16, 2013 Updated Jul 23, 2015

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In The Practicing Photographer, photographer and teacher Ben Long shares a weekly serving of photographic instruction and inspiration. Each installment focuses on a photographic shooting scenario, a piece of gear, or a software technique. Each installment concludes with a call to action designed to inspire you to pick up your camera (or your mouse or smartphone) to try the technique for yourself.

Ben Long

Taking a panning action shot

Engine roar. >> Hi, I'm Ben Long, and this week on The Practicing Photographer we're going to look at how to pan across a moving subject to get that cool motion blur effect that you get when you're shooting something really fast. I'm here with Josh Figatner, a very gifted videographer who has you've, you've gotten into still photograph lately, Josh. >> Yeah, just over the last couple of years working with you. >> And well, he's doing really good work. And you're interested in helping me get a, a high-speed portrait.

Most people who know me would never describe me as a very fast-moving person. I take a long time to do anything. So we, we're going to come out here today and I'm going to ride fast. And Josh is going to take pictures of it. So I can actually try to tell people that I don't always move like a Geranium. Anyway Josh, the I'm going to ride. We're, we're in the middle of nowhere here. I'm going to ride back and forth past you. So if you were to pan past me taking pictures with a very fast shutter speed. What kind of result would we end up getting? Like a really fast, like a thousandth of a second or something. >> Yeah. Everything, I think, would be crystal clear.

But, not a lot of action. >> Exactly. >> Speed. >> Yeah. >> You know, in the shot. >> The background, especially, would be frozen, because the things that are farther away are not going to pan as quickly as you are when you're panning past it. It might look like I'm parked. >> Yes. >> Something kind of like this. We actually, we actually tried this, earlier. And you can see that I don't look real dynamic here. There's still some blur. But what would be better is if you were to use a slower shutter speed, and pan past. >> Mm-hm. >> So that we can get some blur. So we're going to try this, I'm going to just ride back and forth for a while and George is going to take some pictures.

So you're working with a. >> This is da 60D. >> Okay. >> 17-55 lens. >> Okay, good. >> And in shutter priority mode. >> Alright. >> Very sharp. >> So lets start then with some slower shutter speed, if you meter out here at ISO 100 what's the camera saying? >> I'll see. >> Just for a shutter speed. That which aperture here. So if I go down to a 40th of a second, it's closing down to aperture 22. >> Wow. Okay. All right. So what we're talking about in bright daylight, when we're talking about a slow shutter speed, we're not talking about a half a second or anything like that.

You're still at a 40th of a second. So let's give that a try. We can't communicate while I'm on the bike, so maybe as I go by try a few different shutter speeds around that 40th of a second speed. I'll try a couple of different speeds, then we'll see what works. >> That sounds great. So I rode back and forth while Josh paned across me. Shooting at different shutter speeds. He also had the camera in verse mode so that as I passing he was knocking off bunches of shots. It's rally hard to frame accuratly When somethings moving as fast as I was, I was actually only going about fourty miles an hour.

But because he was standing so close to me he had to do very quick, what's called a quick pan. He had to whip around and try keep me in frame during that whole time. Just keeping the shot frame can be difficult. Knowing what shutter speed can be difficult. So I went back forth a few times. Had no idea if he was getting anything useful. And so came back And, check it out. Alright Josh. What did you get? >> Got some good stuff. >> Okay. >> Oh very nice. >> Yeah, this was I started out a little bit lower shutter speed then we were originally talking about.

>> You got a 30th. >> So this is a 30th. >> Okay >> And, it's got some good blur to it. >> Okay. What were you finding about, now you're using a stabilized lens. >> Mm-hm. >> It is not a lens that has a single axis stabilizer. In other words, some telephoto lenses, you can switch the stabilizer into a mode so that it will only stabilize along a pan to give you very smooth pans. This one is not one of those. >> I think it's all for one, yeah. >> Yeah, yeah. Were you in, in doing that, that whipping motion as you went along, were you finding anything worked better than anything else, or? >> You know, it just happens so quickly that it all just seems to go.

>> Yeah. >> I don't know if there was any other way to do it. >> Okay. Your eyes do know how to watch something. Yeah. >> I, yeah, I do wish I would have turned it off. >> Oh, really? >> And tried a couple just like that, just to see how that went. >> To see what the difference is. >> But I forgot. We're not going for great sharpness in these images. We want, we want one slice of sharpness in there somewhere. So, but that's not even going to be razor sharp. So yeah, having the stabalizer on doesn't buy us that much. >> Yeah. So at these low shutter speeds. >> That's very nice. >> It won't be that many sharp ones. >> Right. But I did get some at the higher, higher shutter speeds that we'll take a look at here. >> Okay.

So now we're up to 1/50, and it looks like it's at times a little bit difficult to keep the bike in frame as it's coming by. >> Yeah, so there's a lot of factors obviously to keep in mind. >> Yeah. >> The focal length, the focus. >> Right. >> Kind of usually with this burst mode on the 60D was only able to get maybe one or two frames per ride by. >> Okay. >> That were with in that, the realm of maybe a good photo. So it's really like fishing. >> > Some of them didn't happen at all? >> > So here's a 60f. >> > Okay. >> > It's interesting even at 60f we're getting a nice amount of blur but it does seem easier for you to get a slice of sharp focus in there. >> > That one turned out alright.

>> > Yeah, that looks good. Now, there's a big difference between the ones where I'm riding this way and the ones where I'm riding. That way. >> Definitely. >> When I'm running that way I'm in silhouette. It also seems like the camera, when you are starting here and panning this way, the camera is underexposing things. I expect that's because you're starting on the sun side. >> Makes sense. >> It's metering there and then, and, and kind of holding that through. So that's something to think about. It may be that exposure wise you're always going to get better ones when I'm going that way. Another option would be to go into manual mode and lock everything so that you have.

>> Mm. >> Figure out what a good exposure is. Meter that way, meter that way. Maybe split the difference. Yeah, you know, it depends on what you're looking for. There were some great silhouettes coming from that way. >> Yeah. >> And coming this way into the sun. >> Yeah you can see your face a little bit bit more. >> And you're right about the silhouettes. One thing that's nice about them is I'm in silhouette but there's lit up parts of the bike that look cool. >> Mm-hm. Making a motorcycle rider's bike look good,is always going to make them happy. So that's something to note if you're shooting motorcyclists. So now we're up to a 250th of a second. And these, these really might be the ones.

You're still getting a good amount of blur in the background which does make it look like I'm moving. I am seeing a little more detail. It's a different look. It's one of my faves.>>That's a nice one. Yeah, that looks really good. Yeah. So interesting that here we thought it was a slow shutter speed but, but one of your favorites ends up being at a 250th of a second.>>Yup. >> Yeah. Some other options for getting your shutter speed down. Now of course there, like you said, there are a lot of factors we're juggling here. If it was a cloudy day, all of this would be different because the camera would be metering different and you would need a different set of shutter speeds.

If you need to get your shutter speed slower and you can't get your aperture stopped down enough to allow that slower shutter speed then you might want to consider a neutral density filter. That's a filter that screws onto the end of your lense. Doesn't change the quality of the light but cuts a bunch of light out. And Josh you know about these a lot from shooting video. So that would be a way of getting your shutter speed different. Another option you have on this camera is servo-tracking auto focus which attempts to track a moving object through the frame... The problem here is because you're panning, everything in the frame is moving.

You need to, if you, if your camera has a servo tracking focus, you need to check your manual and figure out if it's appropriate to this. Josh, I don't know how yours works on here. I believe that on the 60D the servo tracking focus expects you to try and keep a focus point on The subject and you're having trouble just keeping the subject in frame. There are several tracking mechanisms that will try to predict the direction that things are going and these other auto focus points. So if you're going to do something like this, it's worth digging into the manual and figuring out if that's a way that, that things would stay in focus. It didn't seem like you were really having a problem keeping things in focus, bits that are blurry are blurry from the motion, it seems like.

Yea, it was half and half. >> Okay. How were you out of quick it's our chance. Oh, how were you auto focusing or were you manually focusing? >> I would, auto focus on the stretch of road that I thought would make the best composition. >> Okay. >> And, leave it there. >> And leave it there, okay. And you would do that by half pressing the shutter button with the focus point on that stretch of road? >> Right. >> Okay. And as I came by, when I went to that part I would be Can focus. >> Yeah. It had varing sucess. >> OK. >> Yeah.

>> Is that varing success because you think its hard to, your not necessarily traking me when I'm right there on the. >> Exactly. >> Yeah. >> Your going so fast. So just. >> Yeah. >> Half a second your already ten feet farther. >> Right. Right. >> Something like that. Something else that might be interesting with some of these all this motion that's through the frame with a, with a single slice of focus of course is about bringing attention to a particular part of the frame. You can exaggerate that some more with some editing. I think a lot of these images would work well with a vignette on them. It just really push some of that light and energy more into the center. You got some really good stuff here, Josh.

I think we've probably both seen here. And I've encountered this before, when I've been trying this. This technique takes a lot of practice. >> huh. >> It's hard to learn how to anticipate and juggle all those factors. It gets very different if you don't have the vantage point that he did. Now on the one hand, he's standing real close to the road, so he's gotta move really Quick. If you are standing much farther away, that kind of triangle that you make with your subject means you don't have to pan as fast, but it also means you have to use a longer lens, which means your cropping a much tighter field of view, which means you've gotta be even more exacting. So if you want to try shooting at a racetrack or something.

You really may want to bring a variety of focal lengths. My call to action to you guys this week, if you want to try this out, is go try this out. This is a technique that requires a lot of practice. Either try and get somewhere where there is going to be some repeating motion, a racetrack, or something like that. Or find someone who's willing to ride around the block over, and over, and over. And just sit there, and work through exactly what Josh worked through. It, it takes some skill to learn this. Sports shooters, and action photographers practice this a lot. And Josh thanks a lot. I really appreciate you coming out here to the middle of nowhere, and helping me with this.

>> Hey, it was fun. >> Great.

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