Friday, October 1, 2010

Panning Static Subjects

One of the first 'rules' of photography we all learned was to always hold your camera steady.  Well, some rules were made to be broken!  Vertical pans of static subjects definitely breaks this rule because the camera is deliberately moved during exposure.
This is a fun technique to try in the harsh light of mid-day.  Why?  Because the contrast between light and shadow is too harsh to make striking images. Panning static objects in harsh light causes the contrast to decrease and the colors to blend across your sensor often producing pleasing abstract images of lines and color.
(Canon 5D Mark II, Canon 24-105mm IS lens, 0.6 sec. @ f 22, ISO 100) 
The image above was made on a spring afternoon in the Smoky Mountains when the trees were green with new growth.

In contrast, the image on the right was made during autumn in New Brunswick.  The oranges and yellows of the leaves blended nicely during the pan and the white tree trunks added lines of interest.  This vertical pan suggests the original subject in an abstract way.  (Canon 1D, Canon 70-300 IS DO, 1/15 sec. @ f 25, ISO 100) 

Another purely abstract image is shown on the left.  I made this image in a stand of birch trees.  My friend was wearing a red jacket that day and I asked him to stand between two of the trees in my scene.  I panned the scene vertically, but at the same time wiggled the camera back and forth during the 0.5 second exposure.  I really like the results of this experiment with the red splash adding visual  interest.  (Canon EOS 50D, Canon 24-105mm IS lens, 0.5 sec. @ f 22, ISO 100)

The technique of panning static subjects is worth exploring.  It's fun to do and the results are often pleasantly surprising.  However, don't limit yourself to just stands of trees as I have featured this week.  Try panning any colorful scene and see what wonderful abstracts you can create.

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