Friday, September 24, 2010

Panning to Create Movement in Still Photos

Another way to show movement in a still image is to pan with a moving subject.  Panning involves moving the camera close to the same speed as your subject during exposure.
The classic desired effect when panning with a moving object is that the resulting image has something sharp in the frame, while the rest of the image becomes blurred.  This week's featured images were made at the 2010 Indiana State Fair during the harness races. The first example (Above) is a classic pan showing the horse's head in focus and the rest of the image blurred. (Canon 5D Mark II, Canon 70-200mm f4 IS USM, 1/25 sec @ f18, ISO 50)
Another successful effect of panning is the creation of a totally blurred abstract image.  (anything in between these 2 extremes tends to look like a mistake!!)  In this second image, nothing is sharp, making this an abstract image of the sport of harness racing. (Canon 5D Mark II, Canon 70-200mm f4 IS USM, 1/20 sec @ f20, ISO 50)
 I have included this 3rd image for the sake of comparison.  I experimented a bit with freezing the action as this horse raced by.  Although technically sharp, you can certainly appreciate that this image is nowhere near exciting and has much less emotional impact than the other two.  The panning technique is what added the drama and excitement to the photos above.  (Canon 5D Mark II, Canon 70-200mm f4 IS USM, 1/2000 sec @ f4.5, ISO 320)
 So, are you ready to give panning a try?  Here are a few tips to get you started:
A good beginning point when panning is to choose a low ISO.  Place your camera on aperture priority and choose a small F-stop. (i.e. higher number- like 16 or 22)  If the light is too bright to achieve a slow shutter speed, a polarizing filter or neutral density filter can help.  Meter your scene to see what shutter speed the camera 'chooses' for your chosen F-stop. The desired shutter speed will vary for the speed of the subject of which you are panning.  Luckily, in this digital age, we can see our efforts immediately on the back of the camera to judge if we are achieving the desired effect at the moment and adjust our settings accordingly.
When panning with a subject, be sure your have a wide steady stance.  Then, lock your elbows to your sides and pivot from the waist.  It is important to lock your focus on the moving subject and begin tracking it before pressing the shutter and continue following the subject once your it passes by and the exposure is complete.  This will keep your panning motion smooth.
Panning takes a great deal of practice, but once you get it, it is a fun technique to experiment with and to use in your photography.


Friday, September 17, 2010

Science and Magic

Crepuscular rays are rays of sunlight that appear to radiate from a single point in the sky. These rays, which stream through gaps in clouds are columns of sunlit air separated by darker cloud-shadowed regions.
"Crepuscular” means “pertaining to twilight,” and the rays occur around dawn and dusk when the contrasts between light and dark are the most obvious. The contrast is what  makes these rays of light so visible.
(Canon 5D Mark II, Canon 24-105mm IS, 1/125 sec @f 5.0, ISO 100) 

We had a particularly hot and humid summer this year in Indiana which caused large cumulus clouds in the evenings.   These three images were made standing on my back deck during the crepuscular hours...
 All of this science talk makes my head hurt!  I much prefer to call these rays of light by a more mysterious name:
God Beams
The name fits them well since they seem to originate directly from heaven. 

This image was made on the 29th anniversary of the death of my father.  The quality of light began to change as the sun began to set.  Enough so, that the intense glow was noticeable from INSIDE the house.  It was the flood of golden light that drew me outside to witness a fiery sunset with bright God beams.  Perhaps it was the significance of the day, but this image really resonates with me. (Canon 5D Mark II, Canon 24-105mm IS lens, 1/6 second @ f 8, ISO 100)

I never tire of witnessing this scientific phenomenon. 
It is truly magical!

(Canon 5D Mark II, Canon 24-105mm IS lens, 1/60 sec @f 22, ISO 200)