Saturday, January 24, 2009

Missed a day!

Sorry everyone. I did intend on posting yesterday but Two nights ago I got a phone call around 8pm from my friends over at CO Photography desperately needing some help covering a gymnastics event in Covington. Sue is such a sweetheart I couldn't say no, so I spent my day at the Northern Kentucky Convention center yesterday. Places like that are the reason we need Nikon D3's, D700's, and ultra fast glass. I was shooting my D300 at ISO1600, f/2.8 and the BEST I was getting was 1/120th of a second. The best!! And to top it all off, I was shooting the level 9 girls which MOVE across that floor. Anyway there were lots of blurred photos, lots of good ones too, but man was it hard work. I'll be back there tomorrow shooting all day, so probably nothing from me tomorrow either. For those of you coming to the workshop here in a few hours, be prepared for a fun learning experience. Shad and I have come up with some really good material, and examples, plus we'll be doing a lot of hands on stuff too. If you're not coming, WHY NOT? Everyone can learn something! Just kidding guys, but seriously for those of you not attending we will be doing another basic class in about a month, as well as an advanced class. I'll have more details about the advanced class in a week or two.

On to today's post. I thought we'd talk a little about some techniques today. Specifically panning. Panning is a technique that you see a lot in motorsports, or marathons. It produces the feeling of motion. The idea is to use a slow shutter speed and move the camera with the subject. This keeps the subject in focus, but blurs the background. Above you see an example of panning. This was from a stock car race that I photographed when I was in Atlanta on a business trip. There are some general rules when It comes to panning. First you have to have a background that will produce a visible blur. Someone walking down the street with a solid color wall behind them won't look good panned because there is nothing to give the blurred lines. Second, manual focus is key. You can track the moving subject with continuous autofocus but it's easier to pre focus on the spot that you plan on actually pressing the shutter release button. This focus should stay the same because usually the subject will be moving from left to right in front of you so they will be staying in the same focus plane. Start "tracking" the subject before you intend on pressing the shutter release, and keep tracking the subject for a few seconds after the shutter has closed. I have found this to be very helpful in getting a sharp subject and really blurred background. Also Don't get discouraged. You will trash a lot of your shots. Lots will come out with the entire image blurry. Don't worry about it, this happens to us all.

The technique works like this. You start by setting your camera to Shutter Priority mode. Set a base shutter speed of 1/30 to 1/60 of a second. This may very but I have found that these are a good starting point. In shutter priority the camera will select the aperture to produce a correct exposure for the shutter speed that you have set. If you point your camera at the subject, and it says HI in the display, you will have to change something. You will either have to lower the ISO or you will need a neutral density filter to block a little light. Otherwise if is says HI and you take the photograph anyway, you will get an overexposed image. Now, you have the shutter set, the aperture is good, and you start to follow the subject through the scene. Press the shutter release button and wait for it to close and keep panning like discussed earlier. Now "chimp" it. Take a look at the shot you just took. How does it look? Is the subject blurred, or is it in focus? If it is blurred, why is it blurred? Did you track the subject at the same speed that it was going? Maybe you're shutter is set too slow, bump the shutter speed up a stop. Is the background not burred enough? Take the shutter speed down a stop. The key here is patience and practice. Before you know it, you'll be taking all sorts of photos that convey motion. There's nothing better than to have a person viewing the photograph feel what you felt when you were there. With a pan, they can feel the motion, they know what it was like to have that mountain bike whiz past you, they know what it looked like to have the Indy car flying down the strait away at 250mph. This is what I strive for, and hopefully what all of you strive for, to have the person looking at your photo feel how you felt when taking the shot.

Alright enough from me today. Get out there and shoot some photos! that's the best way to learn. Hands on take a photo and see what works and what doesn't. I'll see you all on Monday. Jason

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