Taxi … Pan


No technical info

Jennifer has done the same technique. Here the taxi is not quite in focus. The background is blurred. The taxi could be more inside the frame of the image but that is also editorial. In terms of the technical aspect, it’s a good try but not a ‘keeper.’ Someone else has done this and done it better. Still it’s a great effort from an amateur photographer.

Run… Pan


No technical info

Jennifer indicates that this is her attempt at panning. It’s a good one. The girl with the yellow hat is in focus while all around her the other elements are blurred. It’s a good way to isolate your subject from a confusing background. To do this one needs to use a slow shutter and move the camera with the direction of the subject’s movement. In this case left to right. If you are accurate, you will come up with something like this. You can also achieve this effect in Photoshop. But it’s more fun in camera.


Technical: Canon DSLR

Jennifer got some good lessons. She’s put the horizon off center frame. In this case the boring water has been cropped in favor of the dramatic clouds. I was going to say she shot in Brooklyn, but Jen lives in Hoboken. You shoot what’s familiar. So this is a shot of the Empire State Building, Manhattan’s Westside, and the Hudson River. The sky would have been boring without the clouds. Although, I have to say that I love a crisp cool bright blue sky morning. It evokes some great memories. You might consider stitching together a series of images to make a panoramic view of the Manhattan skyline. That’s a classic image. There’s nothing wrong with treading where other’s have gone and using their ideas to make your own image.

Motion Blur by Luck

Technical: Canon EOS 7D, 1/160 sec, f13, focal length 50

Cousin David titled this ‘motion blur by luck.’ I would call it panning the camera. He shot the image and moved the camera in the same direction with the geese in flight. This will blur the background while keeping the subject in focus. It’s another way to make ‘bokeh’ without playing with depth of field. This is especially helpful in sports where you can visualize a race car going by and the crowded background is a pleasant blur. It enhances the notion of action. With birds this can be difficult because often the flight is less predictable. Here David got a fine shot. I didn’t notice the goose on the right. It was obscured by the background. But the goose on the left is nicely isolated.

Swing and Motion

Susan wrote: Not one of my favorites but brings up a question?  How do you photograph kids on swings?  Motion catch???

There are some pointers but no sure fire solution. Use a fast shutter speed. That would be to set the shutter at a fixed setting and let the ISO and f-stop adjust. I would use 1/500 to stop motion on a swing.

Manually focus as the subject moves. The motion is toward, away, or across your field of vision. Focus out or in depending on the direction of motion like the swing. For objects moving across the field of view – pan the camera. That is to say swing it in the direction of the motion. It will blur the background and focus on the object such as a car. No one much uses manual focus anymore. But it’s there if you want to try it.

Focus points are now in multiples on all advanced digital cameras. The Nikons and Canons offer a choice of metering patterns. There are multiple points of focus where the subject crossing that sensor point will cause the lens to focus on the subject. On the Nikon D200, I use the closest subject focus choice. It focuses reliably on the nearest subject, which usually happens to be my subject of interest. It works most of the time. This is what I rely upon as far as focus.

Anticipation is important. Most things we photograph are moving in a reasonably predictable pattern. Not so for wildlife but most things like a swing have predictable paths. You can focus on a point and let the action come into the field of view. You can pan the camera and follow the action. You can continuously focus and fire the shutter at the critical moment.

There is a button on Nikon and Canon cameras, which allows you to focus first and then trip the shutter separately instead of a single button that you depress partially and fire the shutter. This gives a bit more control. It is what the sports photographers rely upon. It’s a very good trick and feature on the camera. The manual takes a page or so to discuss it and I swear I skipped over that part until I shot tennis. Then it all made sense.

Finally be prepared to shoot a lot of images. There will usually be one or two that you will want to keep. The rest will be technically good but not outstanding.