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Posts Tagged ‘panning’

Wild Turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) do not run very fast, but the panning technique that I used for the photo below blurred the background and makes it look like the turkey was moving really quickly. I really like the effect that I achieved, but I must confess that it was what Bob Ross might have called a “happy accident.”

My visit yesterday to Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge was coming to a close when I spotted a turkey in the distance getting ready to cross the road. My camera was attached to a monopod and I immediately planted it into the ground and tried to track the turkey with my zoom lens extended to its full 600mm length.

I had no idea what the setting were on my camera—I was completely focused on trying to capture the moment. As it turned out, the shutter speed was way too slow to stop the action, only 1/50 of a second, so my subject is somewhat blurred. When you plan to pan, you deliberately set a slow shutter speed, normally between 1/30 and 1/125 of a second and I happened to be within that range. I was also moving the camera pretty smoothly as I tracked the big bird.

Luck and instinctive reactions helped me capture a fun, funky image that puts a huge smile on my face every time that I look at it. I hope that it does the same for you.

 

wild turkey

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Sometimes I will intentionally use a slow shutter speed when I am panning a moving subject to blur the background and give a sense of motion, but that was not the case with these photos—I was shooting in aperture-priority mode and simply wasn’t paying attention to the shutter speed that the camera was giving me. In all three of these images, the shutter speed was 1/100 of a second, which is really too slow for handholding my 150-600mm zoom lens.

As the old saying goes, though, sometimes it is better to be lucky than good. I really like the way the background was rendered and am not at all bothered by the somewhat soft focus on parts of the moving heron.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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How do you capture a sense of motion in an image? One of my favorite methods, panning, involves tracking a moving subject with the camera set at a slow shutter speed. The results can be a bit unpredictable, but are usually fun, like these images of a Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) coming in for a landing this past weekend.

In this case, the shutter speed ended up being 1/60 of a second. I was shooting in aperture priority, but knew that the shutter speed would be slow, because of the limited light early in the morning. With my telephoto zoom extended to about 550mm, I concentrated on trying to do a smooth pan handheld. My biggest challenge turned out to be keeping the goose centered in the frame.

None of these images are perfect, which is typical of most of my panning efforts, but there are elements of each of them that I really like. Photos like these remind me that it’s ok sometimes to have photos that are not perfectly in focus.

If you haven’t tried this technique, I highly recommend it, especially if you like “artsy” images.

Canada Goose

Canada Goose

Canada Goose

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

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Shortly after I spotted some deer on a little ridge immediately in front of me, they started to run toward the treeline. Without thinking about my camera settings, I pressed the shutter button, hoping to capture the action. If I had been paying more attention, I would have realized that a shutter speed of 1/100th of  a second would not freeze the motion, especially when shooting at the far end of my 70-300mm lens.

When I reviewed my images on my computer, it was pretty obvious what had happened without even looking at the EXIF data. Many of the shots were blurry, but I really liked this image. Instinctively I had panned as I had tracked the deer, blurring the background, and I managed to capture the deer with its hind legs in the air. In many ways, this slightly out of focus shot captures a sense of motion even better than if I had been able to freeze the action by using a higher shutter speed.

I try to be conscious about the settings on my camera at any given moment, but I am happy in this case that my inattention caused the wrong settings to be just right.

White-tailed Deer

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Some folks complain a lot about Canada Geese, but I enjoy trying to photograph them, especially when they are taking off and landing. It seems like the number of them has dwindled somewhat at my local marsh recently–perhaps some of them have migrated north.

Yesterday, this goose began to sound the alarm as soon as it became aware of my presence and took off a short time later, still crying out with its tongue extended. I managed to track the bird as it was taking off and to shoot a series of shots. The sky was pretty heavily overcast yesterday, so I had raised my ISO to 320 and figured that I would have enough speed to capture the action. What I didn’t realize at the time, though, was that my aperture was still set at f/11, because I had been shooting some landscapes just prior to these shots. I was in aperture priority mode and my camera chose a shutter speed of 1/1oo of a second.

In the first shot, the goose is relatively sharp and there is little motion blur, except for the background, which is blurred, I think, because I was panning as I tracked the goose. In the second shot, though, which preceded the first in time, the wings and the feet have some motion blur, which accentuates the feeling of the goose scrambling to get into the air.

I keep going back and forth in trying to decide which of this two photos I like better. The technical side of my brain wants to vote for the first one, but the artistic side prefers the second image. What do you think?

goose_alarm goose_alarm2_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

 

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How do you capture speed? Sometimes I will pan the camera and track the moving subject, as I did yesterday with the flying Canada Goose (Branta canadensis). Usually the background is a little blurry, but this time the background became abstract, almost like a painting, an effect that I really like.

What happened? Generally, I shoot in aperture priority mode and I had my camera set on f/5.6, as wide open as I could get at the far end of my telephoto zoom. The weather was cold and gray with the threat of precipitation—it eventually rained for hours—so I set my ISO to 500. It turned out that I would have needed a much higher ISO to stop the motion completely, for my camera provided me with a shutter speed of only 1/60 of a second. That is why there is some motion blur in the wings.

goose_pan_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Sometimes I don’t want to freeze motion entirely in the way that I did in a photo of a Canada Goose landing in the water that I posted earlier today.

Here is another shot of a Canada Goose in which I panned the camera, helping to blur the background, and the slower shutter speed left a certain amount of motion blur in the wings, helping to enhance the impression of speed. My camera was in aperture-priority mode and the shutter speed dropped when the goose that I was tracking flew against the darker background of the trees.

I really like the overall feel of the image, the sense that the goose is straining to slow down as it prepares for landing, but is still moving forward at a fast speed. Is the image “tack sharp?” No, it’s not, but I am happy that it is not—it’s a creative choice. Check out a recent posting entitled “Chasing the tack sharp mirage” by Lyle Krahn, one of my favorite photographers, for a provocative  discussion about this topic.

goose_flying_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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What is the best way to capture motion and have the subject in focus? Recently I have been experimenting with different camera settings and shooting techniques in trying to photograph birds in flight.

Yesterday I concentrated a large part of my efforts on Canada Geese (Branta canadensis). They make good test subjects because they are large and relatively slow-flying birds (and there are lots of them). I have done a number of postings of geese taking off and landing and in those cases I usually try to freeze the action. Getting the photo in focus is not always easy, but the action is usually taking place in a small geographic space and that helps a little with getting the focus locked in.

Capturing the geese before they being the landing process or after they are in flight has always been tough for me, but I think my skills are improving with practice. Generally I will try to focus on a single goose to make things easier. Yesterday, though, I decided to try to capture a group of geese flying together and had some success using a panning technique. The background blurred nicely, the necks of the geese are in focus, the wings have a bit of motion blur, and the geese themselves have assumed interesting poses. As I recall, I had my focusing point on one of the geese in the center. Some of the photographers I see with really long telephoto lenses have special mounts on their tripods that let the lenses swing freely as they track the birds, but for the most part I have been taking these shots hand-held.

panning_blog

I used a slightly different technique with a couple of geese that were closer. Using one of the first rules I learned about photographing people and animals, I tried to focus on the nearest eye of one of the geese. Well, actually I probably was trying to keep my focusing point on the goose’s head in reality, but I was thinking of the eye. As you can see, there was not a lot of depth of field, but things worked out well with the face of the nearest goose in pretty sharp focus. The blurry wings provide a nice contrast with the sharper elements and my eyes are drawn to the goose’s eyes and open bill.

goose_pair_blog

For me, experimentation is one of the best ways to learn new things and I am definitely learning more and more about my camera and my techniques, which will help me when I try to photograph subjects, like hawks, that are less cooperative than the Canada Geese.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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