Saturday, 13 March 2010

Exercise: Panning with different shutter speeds

This time the purpose of the exercise was to show movement by using a technique called panning. The objective of this technique is to shoot at a low enough shutter speed is to blur the background, whilst keeping the subject in focus and sharp. This is a technique which can be used for most moving subjects, however there does come a point where the shutter speed is so slow, that it proves impossible to maintain a sharp image of the subject.

I shall later show photographs taken at other times of different subjects which also demonstrate panning and non-panning techniques.

1. I started the panning exercise at 1/1000th as I felt that for this subject faster shutter speeds would always freeze the movement and would not add value. Here, using ISO 1600, to get a fast enough shutter speed, all movement is frozen. To the viewer the car appears static and could be parked in that road.

1. 1/1000th

2. At 1/640th, some slight movement becomes discernible, particularly in the wheels as they have a different movement to that followed by the panning motion. Because there is this slight suggestion of movement, there is a question in the viewers' mind as to whether the car is static or parked.

2. 1/640th

3. In the photograph to the right, the car's wheels are showing definite movement and there is some perceptible movement in the background. This is giving that impression of movement, but only on close inspection. The viewer still cannot see real movement.

3. 1/400

4. At 1/250th there is definite blurring of the background due to the panning motion, however, to me this is still insufficient to show movement as a whole. Again, the wheels are nicely blurred, while the car remains sharp.
4. 1/250th
5. Panning at a shutter speed of 1/160th provides good blurring of the background and provides the viewer with a good impression of movement, though the speed of the car is not particularly well conveyed.

5. 1/160th
6. At last, at 1/100th, there is both a sensation of both movement and speed. A balance has been achieved between the shutter speed and the panning motion which is responsible for blurring the background. Whilst this is a significant improvement on all the preceding photographs, to me this is still insufficient.

6. 1/100th
7. At 1/60th, this is what I am looking for. The background is nicely blurred and a real impression of speed is conveyed to the viewer.

7. 1/60th

8. There is a real impression of movement and speed in this shot taken at 1/40th. Oh dear......the driver is talking on his hand-held mobile!! A reasonably sharp mage is maintained giving good detail due to the panning techniques.

8. 1/40th

9. This is probably my favourite in the sequence. Good image sharpness through panning, combined with a low enough shutter speed to give that all important impression of movement and speed. The buckled bodywork at the rear of the car really makes the car stand out.

9. 1/25th

10. Now, I am moving into the more difficult zone of panning - here there is a great sense of movement and speed. Does it matter that the car is not wholly sharp - probably not. This all depends on the subject matter and what the photographer is trying to convey to the viewer. Curiously, the front of the car is much sharper than the rear. I can only think that, since I am panning in an arc, then here we have a shutter speed which is just slow enough to capture the differential between front and back caused by the relative different panning speeds.

10. 1/15th

11. To me this is a pleasing shot which demonstrates movement through panning. The car is not as sharp as it could be, but I feel this does not detract from the overall shot.

11. 1/10th
12. Here we are tending somewhat more towards the abstract. It is certainly more difficult to pan successfully, however there is a real feeling of movement. To the right of the shot, I caught some bushes between the car and the camera - these are totally blurred and add, through their "streaks" to the overall impression of speed.

12. 1/6th
An interesting exercise which could be extended to all manner of subjects. To me, panning is an essential ingredient where I am trying to convey movement and speed. However, I will always need to ask myself whether the subject will lend itself better to the opposite technique of showing movement through the use of shutter speed alone.

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