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Thread: At the Horse Races - 3rd Try - Panning with a slow shutter speed

  1. #1
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    At the Horse Races - 3rd Try - Panning with a slow shutter speed

    This time around I visited with horse races with the sole purpose of seeing if I could manage to blur the backgrounds using a SS of 50-160. I used Shutter priority and an iso of 320, exp comp of -1 to start so I could see what aperture my camera chose so I could learn the apertures used at a slow shutter speed.

    I found it incredibly challenging to do, and while I did manage to blur some of the backgrounds I couldn't do it with all the shots because of the short panning distance. It was easier to do in the close up shots than the full shots.

    I do like the blurred backgrounds but not the soft focus, so I will try once more before the season ends (soon) to see if I can manage sharper focus.

    #1

    At the Horse Races - 3rd Try - Panning with a slow shutter speed

    #2

    At the Horse Races - 3rd Try - Panning with a slow shutter speed

    #3

    At the Horse Races - 3rd Try - Panning with a slow shutter speed

    #4

    At the Horse Races - 3rd Try - Panning with a slow shutter speed

    #5

    At the Horse Races - 3rd Try - Panning with a slow shutter speed

    #6

    At the Horse Races - 3rd Try - Panning with a slow shutter speed

    #7

    At the Horse Races - 3rd Try - Panning with a slow shutter speed

    And one at a SS of 2500... Nice and sharp but no blurred background

    At the Horse Races - 3rd Try - Panning with a slow shutter speed


    I don't like any of the slow SS panned shots and I'm hoping to receive some advice on how I can do it better next time around. While panning I continued to do so after I clicked the shutter.

    Thank you.

    PS I appreciate frank and honest feedback as it helps me learn what to try and do better next time around. This is a learning exercise for me.

    PPS I think I would find it helpful to hear what I did right or wrong in any chosen photo. I really did not know what I was doing. When I see other photos of blurred wildlife they are far more artistic, ie; visually pleasing whereas some of my shots are downright ugly.
    Last edited by Brownbear; 23rd September 2013 at 01:45 PM. Reason: Add PPS

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    Re: At the Horse Races - 3rd Try - Panning with a slow shutter speed

    Wow! Awesome panning blur.

    Terrific determination/resourcefulness; application in real life to get that type of shot. ( i.e. discuss/pick-up ideas from forum, then, going out in the field to practice the theory. review results, check out good/bad shots, figure out needed corrections, back to field and praxis again!)

    Sure does take a lot of energy too.


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    Re: At the Horse Races - 3rd Try - Panning with a slow shutter speed

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina S View Post
    I don't like any of the slow SS panned shots
    I was scrolling down through these thinking that my first comment was going to be, "And I hope you can see the massive steps forward you're taking in terms of development and improvement" ... until I read the above.

    No, they're not perfect, but if you analyse in terms of the challenge you set yourself, they're excellent. You're being far too critical of yourself.

    I know I sound like a broken record, but this stuff takes practice. Lots of it. I think that #1 and #5 in particular, are great shots. #1 is full of action and energy


    Quote Originally Posted by Christina S View Post
    While panning I continued to do so after I clicked the shutter.
    I'm no expert, but based on what I've read, this is exactly what you should be doing. It's like a golf swing - You've got to follow-through. So get your body-swivel action perfected (practice on cars, etc, as well as horses) and, yes, keep on panning right through the shot.

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina S View Post
    When I see other photos of blurred wildlife they are far more artistic, ie; visually pleasing whereas some of my shots are downright ugly.
    Even though your panning to blur backgrounds, still look at that background. I'll bet the artistic wildlife pictures you're thinking about did not have as busy backgrounds as you find on a racecourse. That's the bit about having to work the location, so that you'll get a position where you can get good panning action, but that also has a less a cluttered background as it's possible to get. It's about building up the elements of the picture. You're well on the way to getting the panning right. You're composition is miles better than in the first set you posted. The next bit of the jigsaw is on getting the location so that you get the angles and the backgrounds that you want.

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    Re: At the Horse Races - 3rd Try - Panning with a slow shutter speed

    Thank you Victor and Donald for your comments and helpful advice.

    Donald, Yes, the artistic photos blurred were of wildlife flamingos, horses, in a nature setting. But here is what my photos should look like at the race track... There is also a great article on photographing race horses on this site.

    http://www.neilmurrayphotos.com/507797/in-motion/

    I suppose lots more practice will be needed but the season is almost over so it might have to wait until next year. And yes, next time I will check out the background more thoroughly. Thank you. Very helpful.

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    Re: At the Horse Races - 3rd Try - Panning with a slow shutter speed

    You're onto something. What lens did you use?

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    Re: At the Horse Races - 3rd Try - Panning with a slow shutter speed

    You are almost there.... very well done..... i am still a child in panning.....
    ALL THE BEST

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    Re: At the Horse Races - 3rd Try - Panning with a slow shutter speed

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina S View Post
    But here is what my photos should look like at the race track...
    http://www.neilmurrayphotos.com/507797/in-motion/
    Yep - All good stuff. Every one of them side-on. No three-quarter frontal shots. Allows for much more aggressive/dynamic panning. I'm sure he's been at it for a long time and didn't get to that quality after his third set at a race track and his first serious effort at panning.

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    Re: At the Horse Races - 3rd Try - Panning with a slow shutter speed

    Hi Joe,

    This time around I used my Nikor 28-200 mm lens... It was very hard for me not to use my sharp 300 mm lens.

    I think next time around I might position myself in the bleachers and use my 300 mm lens with the extender. I will be further away so the only means I will have to blur the background is via panning but I might have a longer opportunity to pan before the horse has gone by. What do you think of that strategy?

    By the way a blue heron flew by just before the race started and the photo at A29 SS 40 is really not too bad. There was also a coyote on inner circle of the track but he/she took off as soon as the race started. I've never seen one during my hikes and here it is in the middle of the city.

    Quote Originally Posted by jprzybyla View Post
    You're onto something. What lens did you use?

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    Re: At the Horse Races - 3rd Try - Panning with a slow shutter speed

    Nandakumar,

    Thank you for your kind words and well wishes... I am a child with panning things like big horses but have lots of practice from my birds so hopefully it will stand me in good stead, and I'll progress quickly.

    Donald,
    Thank you. Yes, they are all side on so I think next time around I am going up to the bleachers with my long lens. And I will practice panning on cars and perhaps birds too... I don't golf but I do know to twist from the waist so will do. Thank you for all your help and guidance... Truly appreciated.

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    Re: At the Horse Races - 3rd Try - Panning with a slow shutter speed

    What I was getting at is that whatever lens you use handholding and panning you still have to use a fast enough shutter speed to overcome camera shake. I think more in the range of 320 or 400 rather than the 50-160 you listed.

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    Re: At the Horse Races - 3rd Try - Panning with a slow shutter speed

    Christina, Google YouTube-AdoramaTV-panning. There maybe some tips on this tutorial to assist you in improving your panning techniques.


    Bruce
    Last edited by Digital; 23rd September 2013 at 05:17 PM.

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    Re: At the Horse Races - 3rd Try - Panning with a slow shutter speed

    Christina,
    #1 is good, you can feel the speed in this shot. #5 is right on. The horses face and the front of the jokey are sharp enough. I tried using panning one day and it is not easy... definitely one of those things that takes a lot of practice. I have no tips on how to do it better.

    You have come a long way in just three try's. Your exposure and compositions are great. How long did it take you to learn to pan birds?

    I use to work at a race track. Did you ever think about going to the track in the morning when they have workouts? You might even be able to go to the stable area. Try to make contact with one of the trainers. The trainer has to saddle the horse, so hang around the paddock area and watch for them. Tell them you are interested in taking photos at the morning workouts. If that doesn't pan out (no pun intended), you can always call the race track to see if they will let you come in.

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    Re: At the Horse Races - 3rd Try - Panning with a slow shutter speed

    Hi Christina

    I've never done panning like this but you seem to be off to a good start and I'm sure in your case practice will lead to significant improvement.

    Just a couple of thoughts/questions :

    I wonder should VR be ON or OFF for this technique ? I'm not sure but I would guess it should be OFF so the VR is not trying to compensate for the deliberate panning movement of the camera. However I think some cameras do have a "panning mode" VR or IS.

    Which is the best Auto Focus mode for this ? Presumably AI Servo ? and fixed centre point AF point ?

    One thing with horse racing compared to say racing cars is that with horses there is "local movement" of the subject. By that I mean that even if you are panning steadily and tracking the horse really well, during the relatively slow exposure there could be some relative movement of parts of the horse or jockey which could give some blurring of parts of the subject. If you look at that photo from Neil Murray you linked, the jockey is sitting down and is pretty much still on the horse but the horses legs are moving and blurred. This isn't a problem with the legs though because it emphasizes the speed of the horse. But if it had raised it's head during capture it might be blurred. So what I'm saying here is that you are bound to get a low success rate and the more shots the better to get that "winner".

    Anyway, well done and keep at it.

    Dave

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    Re: At the Horse Races - 3rd Try - Panning with a slow shutter speed

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina S View Post
    Thank you Victor and Donald for your comments and helpful advice.

    Donald, Yes, the artistic photos blurred were of wildlife flamingos, horses, in a nature setting. But here is what my photos should look like at the race track... There is also a great article on photographing race horses on this site.

    http://www.neilmurrayphotos.com/507797/in-motion/

    I suppose lots more practice will be needed but the season is almost over so it might have to wait until next year. And yes, next time I will check out the background more thoroughly. Thank you. Very helpful.
    OMG you are hard on your self Christina.I practised for months on the side of a road panning with motor cars that went past and took hundreds of images at different settings and finally I could get what I wanted. Pan when you are using your FPS on your camera that will help you.
    Dave.

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    Re: At the Horse Races - 3rd Try - Panning with a slow shutter speed

    Thank you to all for your helpful advice.

    Joe, I was trying to get a sense of motion. The Audoban Bird Book has beautiful photos of panned wildlife photographed at 1/15 second. But next time around I will try the faster shutter speed (also used by Neil Murray) for one race and the slower shutter speed for the next race, and see what happens.

    Ali, great advice and a great idea. During the race I can't get near the jockeys as there are always 4-5 professional photographers around but I will try one morning and I will also ask, its definitely worth a try.

    Dave Ellis, I don't have VR on my lens or IS in my camera so no worries there. I have it set to single point center focus continuous auto focus, dynamic mode. I will check out AI and also check to see if I have a panning mode on my camera. Thank you for the analysis of the movement I find it very helpful.

    Dave (Dusty),

    Thank you for sharing... I guess I just figured that horses were a lot bigger than birds and they don't move as fast as some, (Falcon Perigrene of which I do have a couple of in flight shots) so I expected that this should be easier but it's not... In fact, I'm finding it a lot harder because of the distracting backgrounds, so very good to know. Also the races end for the season after the 1st or 2nd weekend in October so I was hoping to be able to to this before then but I see that it will take lots of practice so perhaps I will not be able to get that shot until next summer, unless I'm very lucky...

    What is FPS?

    Thank you.

    PS The article on photographing horse races on Neil Murrays website is very informative, in case anyone else is interested.

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    Re: At the Horse Races - 3rd Try - Panning with a slow shutter speed

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina S View Post

    I have it set to single point center focus continuous auto focus, dynamic mode. I will check out AI and also check to see if I have a panning mode on my camera. Thank you for the analysis of the movement I find it very helpful.
    Christina, sorry but AI Servo is Canon speak. I suspect what you are using is similar.

    Dave

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    Re: At the Horse Races - 3rd Try - Panning with a slow shutter speed

    Hi Dave,

    No worries. Thank you. yes, I think so.

    PS Bruce thank you for the video links.

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    Re: At the Horse Races - 3rd Try - Panning with a slow shutter speed

    These are so much better than my attempts at moving objects but I haven't had much practice yet. I was going to ask the same question as Dave Ellis. My 70-200 (Canon) lens has two mode IS. I understand that in mode 2 it stabilises vertically but not horizontally especially for this sort of application but perhaps I am oversimplifying. I have not got around to trying it properly yet.

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    Re: At the Horse Races - 3rd Try - Panning with a slow shutter speed

    Hi Tony,

    I guess we will both have to practice more!

    Thanks for sharing. I'm sorry but I don't know anything about what you are asking so someone else will have to step up and answer your question.




    Quote Originally Posted by TonyW View Post
    These are so much better than my attempts at moving objects but I haven't had much practice yet. I was going to ask the same question as Dave Ellis. My 70-200 (Canon) lens has two mode IS. I understand that in mode 2 it stabilises vertically but not horizontally especially for this sort of application but perhaps I am oversimplifying. I have not got around to trying it properly yet.

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: At the Horse Races - 3rd Try - Panning with a slow shutter speed

    Quote Originally Posted by TonyW View Post
    These are so much better than my attempts at moving objects but I haven't had much practice yet. I was going to ask the same question as Dave Ellis. My 70-200 (Canon) lens has two mode IS. I understand that in mode 2 it stabilises vertically but not horizontally especially for this sort of application but perhaps I am oversimplifying. I have not got around to trying it properly yet.
    That's correct, Tony. You are not over-simplifying. Mode 2 is specifically designed for the sort of panning shots that we are discussing.

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