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  1. #1
    Member ThoughtfulPirate's Avatar
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    Panning question

    I dont like panning shots all that much, but I wish I were better at them. I am not sure the technique to use. One problem I have is my camera isnt an slr, so the viewfinder goes black for a second when I shoot, so I have trouble keeping myself following the subject as I press the button. I also dont really know what settings to use? I would assume to get a blurred background I would need a relitavely slow shutter. Am I on the right track here? I havent quite gotten it down with the new camera, I could do it with the old point and shoot, but it was just kind of luck when I got really good shots with that one sometimes.

  2. #2
    Captain of the Ship Photo-John's Avatar
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    My technique

    TP-
    What camera are you using that the viewfinder blacks out? Are you talking about the LCD or the actual viewfinder? The first thing to do when panning with a compact digital camera is use the optical viewfinder instead of the LCD. The optical viewfinder forces you to physically follow your subject in a more natural and direct manner. And yes, you do need a slow shutter speed. The best shutter speed depends on the amount of background blur you want and the speed of your subject. For instance, you'll need a much slower shutter speed to get good background blur with a XC rider or runner, vs. a motorcycle or downhill racer.

    One thing I've learned to do is sort of choreograph my pan. In other words, I plan it. I choose where I want to have the shutter go, I pre-focus on that spot, and I also plan where I'm going to start panning and stop panning. Just as when you're throwing a ball or swinging a bat, follow-through is very important. You want to start your pan well before you take the picture, and finish it well after. That ensures that you'll be moving smoothly with your subject when you actually press the shutter release.

    Oh yeah, I like using the flash with pan photos. If you go a little dark on the overall exposure an use the flash, you'll get nice background blur and the flash will freeze your subject and make it pop out nicely. That's how I took this photo of Ray, in Downieville.

    And practice makes perfect. Even if you don't think you like panning shots, shoot a lot of them at different settings. It's important to understand how all photographic techniques work if you want to be able to get the best photos in every situation.

    John
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Panning question-ray.jpg  
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  3. #3
    Member ThoughtfulPirate's Avatar
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    I have a panasonic Fz10. Its a point and shoot, but I guess its sort of getting closer to an SLR, the only 2 disadvantages I have found are: no switchable lenses, obviously, and that the viewfinder is just like a mini lcd screen inside the camera, they look identical. This is good in that you can see your settings and your focus, but bad in that it goes black. I always use the viewfinder, not the lcd. Other than that, its easier to use on full manual mode than my mom's analog slr that I use sometimes.

  4. #4
    Captain of the Ship Photo-John's Avatar
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    The FZ10 is a nice camera. And like most high-end compact digitals, it's really much more than a point-and-shoot. You just have to learn to take full advantage of it and use the correct techniques.

    Try to to worry about the viwefinder blacking out. Even the best SLRs do that (there's one exception, the Canon EOS 1RS). If you practice and use the technique I shared, it won't matter. The trick is to start panning well before you take the photo, and follow through. As long as you do that, you'll continue to pan smoothly with the rider, even while the viewfinder is blacked out.

    John
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  5. #5
    Mi tortuga es guapo. Kokopeli's Avatar
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    One more suggestion to add...

    By all means, do EVERYTHING PJ suggested, he knows his stuff when it comes to panning. I recently took a shot of a Trophy Class desert racer (truck) and when I posted it for critique someone offered the following tip...

    Take multiple (3 was the number suggested) frames during the pan. This helps ensure that you follow through with the panning motion and (from what I understand) there is usually one that will stand out (sharper focus, etc) from the other two.

    Hope that helps!

    Below is the photo I submitted for critique.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Panning question-phoenixpan.jpg  
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  6. #6
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    Ah, Panning... how much fun! Well panning really is a sport of it's own... and like all sports, the biggest thing you can do to improve is to PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. Like others have mentioned follow through is the biggest key. Think of it like baseball, golf, etc. For me, it's exactly like throwing a discus (4-years of track in high school pays off!). I typically pan with my whole body whenever possible. By slightly bending your knees and rotating your upper body at the waste you get a good base movement. You need to move with the subject, which is different for every location/subject. You can also use your arms to adjust vertical movements in the subject's path, incase the subject isn't moving perfectly horizontal.



    Now the next thing you nee do play with is the shutter speed. Because you're shooting digital you can do this on location. I suggest first choosing a shutter speed a bit too fast (different for each subject/location), and then slowing it down until it is too soft, and backing up one. This way you get the maximum motion, while still keeping the subject sharp. The only thing that's going to help in choosing the shutter speeds is to practice and fine what works. For cars I typically use 1/60-1/125, for motorcycles I use 1/250-1/350, etc. Each subject is different, and each location is different.



    As for the viewfinder on the camera... try to minimize the 'thinking' the camera needs to do. This will cut down on shutter lag, and black-out. Prefocus, manually set the shutter speed, and if light/subjects are constant manually set the aperture. You will also get a feel for the speed of the subject... most of the time now I don't even get a good look through the viewfinder (as I'm doing shots that require me to move too quickly to get a good view of the subject).

    -Todd...

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  7. #7
    Mountain Biker
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    My viewfinder always goes black when the shutter opens.. but then I have an SLR.. ;)

    For panning, I find there are two real techniques that I use. With Flash, and Without. With Flash, I like to use something like a 1/60, or slower... follow the rider, then fire when I think they are in the best position. When done is a dark forest, this gives cool panned trails in the background when the riders is in perfect focus. This is the easiest to do, as the flash will basically stop the rider in their tracks... if you're panning too fast or too slow, it really doesn't matter, as the flash is only open for a fraction of a second. Here are some examples:





    Panning without a a flash I find is a lot harder. You don't have that 'freeze-frame' on your subject.. you need to follow them at the same speed in order to keep them focused. Try this at 1/60, then 1/30, then 1/20.. work your way down to 1/8 (If you can keep it from over exposure, f9, or more is needed sometimes!) Anyway, here is another example:



    Now.. I'm no pro, just a hack, but if I can do that, you can too!

  8. #8
    Member ThoughtfulPirate's Avatar
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    Those are sweet pictures kanata. I like your site too. Well, since this thread got bumped back to the top, I figured I would post a couple of my better efforts at panning since I posted this awhile back. I still suck at it, but Im getting better, I wish I had a bigger flash, I think I need to buy an external one. Here are my favorites that I have taken recently with this technique. We dont have snow here now, I just have to take like 10 shots to get it right when panning, and I happened to be doing it a lot the day it snowed, but I will try again at the dirt jumps tomorrow I think.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Panning question-newcam-153-s.jpg   Panning question-newcam-160-s.jpg  

  9. #9
    Captain of the Ship Photo-John's Avatar
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    Looking Good!

    Those are looking pretty good, TeePee! Try using an even slower shutter speed. You'll get more bad ones, but the good ones will rule! The more background blur the better. It will make your subject pop out without you needing to use flash. Of course, flash is a nice effect. But more blur is sweet.
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  10. #10
    Moderator of Critiques/Hearder of Cats mtbbrian's Avatar
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    You got it!

    Hey TP,
    Looks like you got it!
    Panning isn't as hard as you think.
    Here is an aarticle I found on panning, which is specific to your camera.
    http://www.megapixel.net/reviews/pan.../fz10-gen.html
    Panning is a great technique to show speed.
    Keep it up!
    Brian
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  11. #11
    Unit-One Studios
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    Since almost everyone here seems to be MTB fans, I thought I'd post one of my motorcycle shots from the other day. It was taken with a Canon EOS D30 and Canon EF 28-70mm f/2.8L at 48mm. ISO100, 1/60th of a second at f/19. The only Photoshop done was the removal of the dust spots on my sensor, and a slight crop.


    This photo looks better the larger it is, so here's a Larger Version

    -Todd...
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  12. #12
    Mi tortuga es guapo. Kokopeli's Avatar
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    Re: Panning question

    How funny, I just received email notification that someone had just posted in this (very) dead thread. If so, I can't find what was posted.
    Nikon Samurai #3


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  13. #13
    Captain of the Ship Photo-John's Avatar
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    Re: Panning question

    Quote Originally Posted by Kokopeli View Post
    How funny, I just received email notification that someone had just posted in this (very) dead thread. If so, I can't find what was posted.
    Looks like there was a spam comment that's been deleted. That's cool, though. Even though this thread is 7 years old, it's a good one and it doesn't hurt to give it a bump
    Photo-John

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  14. #14
    Woe is me! wfooshee's Avatar
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    Re: Panning question

    Since it got bumped, and panning is one of my favorite things to do (I like race tracks and air shows) I thought I'd add to what had been said, maybe for a new viewer's benefit if not the OP, who's had 8 years to practice!

    Use the optical viewfinder if you're using a point-and-shoot with both. Holding the camera out far enough to use the LCD will add arm shake to the pan. Don't even bother if the LCD is all you have.
    Use your entire upper body to pan; your arms/shoulders/head should turn as a unit. Don't try to turn just your head and follow it with the camera. Lock the position and rotate your whole torso.
    Light touch on the shutter button, don't "mash" it.
    Follow through. Keep panning after your shot. (That's what taking 3 or 4 shots during the pan forces you to do.)

    Shutter speed depends on how much motion blur you want, and how long the lens is. 1/125 (as below) will give you really nice shots, but only when you get usable ones. 1/250 is what I use most, although I'll spend 15 or 20 minutes clicking slower ones, and get 1 or 2 that I really like. I've seen work from a guy that shoots race cars at 1/60, and it's really really nice, but I've yet to produce a single frame I could use at that slow speed.


  15. #15
    Captain of the Ship Photo-John's Avatar
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    Re: Panning question

    Very nice - the photo and the technique description! Looks like you caught this one right before the front wheel lifted. I used to shoot a lot of roadracing and I've got one beautiful old panning photo of Scott Russell with the front wheel in the air in practice at Laguna Seca. I wish I had a digital copy of that photo. It was perfect
    Photo-John

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