Panning

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Steve B
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Joined: Thu 08 Dec 2016, 17:20

Panning

Postby Steve B » Thu 08 Jun 2017, 21:44

I've always struggled to get the knack of panning and would appreciate members' feedback on how I can more consistently achieve good results. I've posted two images below, which were two of the more successful efforts out of a fairly large number of tries at this shoot, but I'm not entirely satisfied with them...

One of our guest speakers this season showed images from a rodeo in the US, which I though was a good subject for action photography. A little internet searching later and I found details about a rodeo (for amateur enthusiasts) taking place in Fawkham, Kent at the weekend.

As background, the first image involved a rider picking up a flag from a barrel, sprinting to second barrel some 50 yards away and circling it, before sprinting back and throwing the flag into the first barrel. Since the rider was accelerating and decelerating I positioned myself in the middle of the two barrels to capture the rider going at his fastest speed, which I estimate was 20-30mph. My settings were 1/15th sec at f7.1 at a focal length of 55mm with a six stop ND filter attached to balance the exposure on what was a bright day. I was in the high-speed continuous setting on my Canon's AI Servo mode with a large AF focus area set in the middle of the frame. I fired about six shots as a panned with the rider going across me. Auto-focusing through the ND filter worked fine. I'm pretty happy with this one - there is pleasing background blur, the horse's head is sharp enough for my taste and with good movement in the legs. Ideally I would have liked a little more sharpness in the rider's top half though. I like the diagonal line of the flag. Lighting is more than decent. There is space for the horse and rider to run into the frame.

The second image is of a rider preparing to rope an object being towed by a truck (roping live animals is apparently illegal under UK animal welfare laws). The horse is perhaps travelling at 10-15mph. The rider was much closer to me than in the first image hence a focal length of 24mm. The settings were f/3.5 at 1/20sec using the same focusing modes as in the first image and with the same ND filter attached. Here the rider's hat and face are sharp, but the rest of his body is not, and the horse is entirely blurred (I wasn't seeking any sharpness in the rope). There is potential in the image and I like the sense of energy that is conveyed, but it doesn't quite pass muster.

I understand the basic principles of panning. But what confuses me here, is why some parts of the image are sharp and other parts not, for example in the second image why is the rider's hat sharp even though his head is bobbing about while the lower half of his body is blurred. In some of my pictures a tiny element of the rider or horse is sharp, but nothing else is. I suspect it has something to do with the varying speed and direction of movement of the horse and rider, but I'm not sure.

Anyway, comments on the specific issue, or more general top tips for panning, would be most welcome.

Steve

[url][url=https://flic.kr/p/VB1X4D]Image[/url]addressbook (1 of 2).jpg by steve brooker, on Flickr[/url]

[url][url=https://flic.kr/p/UjnWWb]Image[/url]addressbook (2 of 2).jpg by steve brooker, on Flickr[/url]
Rose
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Re: Panning

Postby Rose » Thu 08 Jun 2017, 23:29

What shutter speed were you using ?
Your panning technique doesn't look too bad. But I wonder if your shutter speed was too slow...
Rose
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davidb
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Joined: Thu 14 Nov 2013, 13:45
Location: Croydon, Surrey, UK

Re: Panning

Postby davidb » Fri 09 Jun 2017, 05:59

Rose wrote:What shutter speed were you using ?
Your panning technique doesn't look too bad. But I wonder if your shutter speed was too slow...


The ND filter hasn't helped much either. What ISO did you use?
Regards

David A Beard.
Steve B
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Joined: Thu 08 Dec 2016, 17:20

Re: Panning

Postby Steve B » Fri 09 Jun 2017, 09:04

What shutter speed were you using ?

I was using 1/15 sec for the first image and 1/20 sec for the second. I expect a faster shutter speed would increase my 'hit rate' in terms of sharper images but this has to be balanced against the degree of blur. The subjects were not going that fast, so a fairly slow shutter speed was needed to create a decent amount of blur.

The ND filter hasn't helped much either. What ISO did you use?

I was using ISO400 for the first image and ISO100 for the second. The ND filter was necessary to get a correct exposure at the combination of shutter speed and aperture that I wanted given the brightness of the conditions. I'm not sure why you say it hasn't helped?
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davidb
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Location: Croydon, Surrey, UK

Re: Panning

Postby davidb » Fri 09 Jun 2017, 13:14

The ND filter hasn't helped much either. What ISO did you use?
I was using ISO400 for the first image and ISO100 for the second. The ND filter was necessary to get a correct exposure at the combination of shutter speed and aperture that I wanted given the brightness of the conditions. I'm not sure why you say it hasn't helped?


I've noticed that you get around a lot and that a ND filter is probably an essential accessory. I'm not an expert on filters but I do know that the ND filter has the effect of reducing light reaching the sensor and the need to compensate the time element could result in camera shake in the longer exposure. If you're happy with the longish exposures then good luck. I find them difficult particularly with my heavy camera(s) [I prefer hand held rather than using a tripod].
Regards

David A Beard.
Mike Farley
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Re: Panning

Postby Mike Farley » Sun 11 Jun 2017, 21:54

Hi Steve

I do not have much to add since we discussed at club this on Wednesday. I have never photographed a rodeo, but cannot imagine that panning shots of the riders is the easiest of subjects. Unlike a car, which has only direction of travel, they are moving in at least two axis simultaneously - along, up/down and possibly sideways as well. In your second shot, the cowboy is diagonal to the camera, so you probably have all three there. 1/15 or 1/20 second might not seem like a long time, but it is surprising how much movement can occur in such a short duration.

In such a situation, I would expect to have mixed results. At the shutter speeds you used, to have the subject completely sharp would be unlikely. Personally, I like the feeling of dynamism this imparts, but I can see this is just one option. I was not present for the speaker you mention, so am unable to compare the results. All I can suggest is to experiment with shutter speeds and apertures (for depth of field) to find what works best. I would not be surprised if the photographer who has inspired you had not taken a lot of shots to get a few which he was happy to show.
Regards

Mike Farley
(Visit my website and blog - www.mikefarley.net)
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Paul Heester
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Re: Panning

Postby Paul Heester » Mon 12 Jun 2017, 12:35

Well done on finding a local rodeo!

I would agree with Mike's comments on direction of movement for the rider and horse, there's a lot of directions occurring at the same time when riding a horse. You mention that you choose the fastest speed of the rider but you don't necessarily have to opt for that. If the horse was slower at a different point you may have had a greater hit rate as you could pan easier at slower speeds. It surprised me greatly when I learnt that sports cars shot with a boom arm attached are often at walking pace (normally without the engine being turned on to avoid vibration). Its all about the slow shutter giving the impression of speed.
Mike Farley
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Re: Panning

Postby Mike Farley » Mon 12 Jun 2017, 16:45

One further thought. When I photographed the local hockey match in March, I was shooting at 1/800 sec and still getting a bit of subject movement. You might find that something around 1/125 gives a better result, enough to blur the background while panning but still keeping the subjectively relatively sharp. It could also mean that you do not need a ND filter on a bright day.
Regards

Mike Farley
(Visit my website and blog - www.mikefarley.net)

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