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Thread: Horse Races - 2nd Try at Panning with a Slow Shutter Speed Part 1

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    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Horse Races - 2nd Try at Panning with a Slow Shutter Speed Part 1

    I'm trying to learn how to photograph race horses in action, and although I like the sharp focus obtained with high shutter speeds because the background at the racetrack is very distracting I'm trying to learn how to pan using a slow shutter speed in order to obtain a beautifully streaked background.

    Thanks to everyone's help and advice I believe I managed to figure out how to blur the background, and I think this set is better than my last set. However, I couldn't manage to achieve sharp focus on the head of the horse but hopefully this will come with more practice.

    I'm posting a lot of photos not to receive a critique on each one but because this is so subjective I would just like to know which photos are liked, if any, and why so I can work on those things next time around.


    First Set 300 mm lens from the Grandstand. Manual SS 50 Aperture 4 ISO 220-360 Exp Bias +.67


    From the grandstand was easier to pan for a longer distance than at the fence post.

    #1
    Horse Races - 2nd Try at Panning with a Slow Shutter Speed  Part 1

    #2
    Horse Races - 2nd Try at Panning with a Slow Shutter Speed  Part 1

    #3
    Horse Races - 2nd Try at Panning with a Slow Shutter Speed  Part 1

    #4

    Horse Races - 2nd Try at Panning with a Slow Shutter Speed  Part 1

    #5
    Horse Races - 2nd Try at Panning with a Slow Shutter Speed  Part 1

    #6

    Horse Races - 2nd Try at Panning with a Slow Shutter Speed  Part 1

    #7 (just to show that one can still have a distracting background with panning, so next time I will try an pick a better spot)

    Horse Races - 2nd Try at Panning with a Slow Shutter Speed  Part 1

    #8
    Horse Races - 2nd Try at Panning with a Slow Shutter Speed  Part 1

    I like #3 and #6 the best...

    Thank you.

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    Kaye Leggett's Avatar
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    Re: Horse Races - 2nd Try at Panning with a Slow Shutter Speed Part 1

    1 and 7 work the best for me but I'm not sure why. I think its about how much horse you have captured in the images mixed with the sense of movement - its getting the balance with having enough space for the moving subject to go into I think - I know someone else will be able to be much more eloquent. Well done for persevering.

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Horse Races - 2nd Try at Panning with a Slow Shutter Speed Part 1

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina S View Post
    ... I would just like to know which photos are liked, if any, and why ..
    Numbers 6 & 7 particularly.

    No 6 because it's so full of energy and power. It shows us that we don't need absolute clarity of focus to count as a very good image.

    No 7 because the heads of both the horses and the jockeys are clear and in focus, at the same time as the image is so full of movement. I note your comment about the background, but in terms of technical achievement and the high quality we write about in the last set, this one, for me, has it. high quality. As far as I'm concerned, this is your benchmark against which to measure how you improve from now on.
    Last edited by Donald; 29th September 2013 at 07:29 PM.

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    Re: Horse Races - 2nd Try at Panning with a Slow Shutter Speed Part 1

    For me - 7 and 3 are good for focus. For me 7 is my pick.

    The bunch of horses, with the nearest one in good focus, and with space to run into.
    The background, for me it is a choice, I want some background at a race track (see my motorsport shots on another thread on panning) so that we can see it is a shot taken on a day where there was a race meeting going on. A sense of event, not just a race car going at speed on an otherwise empty track.

    However some backgrounds can be distracting, I hope not so much that it draws the eye for too long.
    For me it is a balancing act.

    For horse racing you have different challenges, lots of movement going in different directions.
    I imagine SS can not be as low as with motor racing.

    Rbn

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    Re: Horse Races - 2nd Try at Panning with a Slow Shutter Speed Part 1

    I just saw Donald's comment. He put it so well, I would not have needed to comment if he had put it there before I wrote mine! I have to agree with his analysis.

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    Re: Horse Races - 2nd Try at Panning with a Slow Shutter Speed Part 1

    Thank you to everyone for your very helpful replies. I'm finding this to be very challenging so it is very helpful to hear which shots are preferred and why. Donald and Robin I will make #7 my benchmark for the next time around, with a nicer background.

    Donald and Robin, why not #1 as there is room to move and the horses head is in focus, or maybe not?

    Thank you Kaye. I have two more weekends to try.

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    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Horse Races - 2nd Try at Panning with a Slow Shutter Speed Part 1

    I should say that I needed to use a shutter speed of 40-60 to obtain a blurred streaked background.. Higher shutter speeds did not work to produce those streaks.

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Horse Races - 2nd Try at Panning with a Slow Shutter Speed Part 1

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina S View Post
    Donald and Robin, why not #1 as there is room to move and the horses head is in focus, or maybe not?
    Because for me, there is too much movement blur in the jockey's head when compared to the relative sharpness of the horse's head. So, for me, it's not just about the horse's head being in focus, but it's about the relationship between the jockey's head and the horse's head. I think the images that work best are when both are sharp or both are blurred. Having one sharp and the other blurred creates, in my head at least, an imbalance.

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    Re: Horse Races - 2nd Try at Panning with a Slow Shutter Speed Part 1

    Thank you Donald, I've never thought of it that way and balance is something new for me to think about and learn about.

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post
    Because for me, there is too much movement blur in the jockey's head when compared to the relative sharpness of the horse's head. So, for me, it's not just about the horse's head being in focus, but it's about the relationship between the jockey's head and the horse's head. I think the images that work best are when both are sharp or both are blurred. Having one sharp and the other blurred creates, in my head at least, an imbalance.

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    Re: Horse Races - 2nd Try at Panning with a Slow Shutter Speed Part 1

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina S View Post
    Thank you Donald, I've never thought of it that way and balance is something new for me to think about and learn about.
    The 'problem', Christina, is that this concept of balance and harmony that I refer to and have done before is, I think, a highly subjective thing. For example, you and others may completely disagree with me as to what I wrote above.

    Whilst it's something I'm thinking about all the time in my own photography, it may not feature in the work of, or be seen as important by, others. I think it's a feeling thing, rather than anything you can measure or objectively analyse.

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    Re: Horse Races - 2nd Try at Panning with a Slow Shutter Speed Part 1

    Donald and Robin, what about this one as compared to #7... I didn't post it because of the blurred shadow/pole or something in the middle but I think the head of the jockey and the horse are in focus (I have a hard time knowing with these types of shots) with room to move...

    Horse Races - 2nd Try at Panning with a Slow Shutter Speed  Part 1

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    Re: Horse Races - 2nd Try at Panning with a Slow Shutter Speed Part 1

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina S View Post
    Donald and Robin, what about this one as compared to #7...
    I'd prefer to compare it to #1 (sorry, that maybe feels like avoiding the question). But going back to the point I made in my previous post above, this, for me, works far better than #1 because it has that balance I was referring to.

    Yes, the pole is in a really bad position and does affect the overall image. But mentally block that out and looking only at the horse and rider in this one and in #1. Which is the most pleasing image on the eye? For me, there is no contest.

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    Re: Horse Races - 2nd Try at Panning with a Slow Shutter Speed Part 1

    Thank you Donald, I've learned a few new things today from this post. Truly appreciated.

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post
    I'd prefer to compare it to #1 (sorry, that maybe feels like avoiding the question). But going back to the point I made in my previous post above, this, for me, works far better than #1 because it has that balance I was referring to.

    Yes, the pole is in a really bad position and does affect the overall image. But mentally block that out and looking only at the horse and rider in this one and in #1. Which is the most pleasing image on the eye? For me, there is no contest.

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    Re: Horse Races - 2nd Try at Panning with a Slow Shutter Speed Part 1

    For me on 1. I see Donald has commented. I will read his comment after I post.

    Yes, there is room for the horse to go in to, but, the horses rear has not come into the picture yet, like cutting off a racing cars rear wheels!

    But more, it is not as good a focus, well sorry, focus is not really the issue, as the head is good.
    But the jockey is blurred. Additionally in 7 there is a lot action, more horses, more riders, and they are in focus and not blurred.

    And like I said earlier, this kind of shot has different challenges than motor racing. Wth motor racing there are only two planes of movement, side to side and near and far, with horses you are going up and down, and legs going everywhere, maybe not near and far for focus. But certainly more movement blur albeit that it is slower than motor racing.

    my 2c worth

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    Re: Horse Races - 2nd Try at Panning with a Slow Shutter Speed Part 1

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina S View Post
    I should say that I needed to use a shutter speed of 40-60 to obtain a blurred streaked background.. Higher shutter speeds did not work to produce those streaks.
    Christina I think your priorities are wrong. The shutter speed and panning actions primary purpose is to capture the subject clearly. If you want the background to be blurred by the panning action you will need to be closer and sweep the pan at a higher speed. The movement of the horse and jockey will force you to use a higher shutter speed (1/200th minimum?) if you want to have an acceptable success rate. Less tightly framed photographs and cropping later will also give you a higher success rate and more options with the final composition.

    The background can always be modified if you must in PP but a blurry horse and rider or a chopped off tail cannot. As I said in another thread SOOC is a worthy objective but not a reliable technique and even less so for demanding subjects.

    P.S. You can sometimes rescue a chopped of tail in PP but it is much easier not to.
    Last edited by pnodrog; 29th September 2013 at 10:11 PM.

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    Re: Horse Races - 2nd Try at Panning with a Slow Shutter Speed Part 1

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina S View Post
    Donald and Robin, what about this one as compared to #7...
    Like Donald, I can not compare this to 7. The shots are not in the same league for me.
    However for me it is a much better shot than one. Primarily because of its clarity etc.

    However, in this shot the horse has fully entered the frame, and with space to move in to.
    Head, rider and tail are in good focus, as is the rail.

    I understand your comment about the pole, I don't have as much of problem with it as Donald. It kind of says, this is a real place, a bit like, but different from the light tower in the background to one of my car shots.

    A stationary ambulance or something like that in the background would, in my mind give a sense of occasion. However, these items can be a bit of distraction. Donald's "balance" word is a good word.

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    Re: Horse Races - 2nd Try at Panning with a Slow Shutter Speed Part 1

    Thank you Robin,

    Your analysis is very helpful. This is all new to me and sometimes chopped off seems to be okay but sometimes not, so good to know about the rear wheels. As is what is okay to be blurry or not, balance, etc. I'm learning lots from this post which will help me to analyze my next set better, and hopefully photograph them better too.

    No apologies, necessary, just a big thank you from me for your help.



    Quote Originally Posted by rawill View Post
    For me on 1. I see Donald has commented. I will read his comment after I post.

    Yes, there is room for the horse to go in to, but, the horses rear has not come into the picture yet, like cutting off a racing cars rear wheels!

    But more, it is not as good a focus, well sorry, focus is not really the issue, as the head is good.
    But the jockey is blurred. Additionally in 7 there is a lot action, more horses, more riders, and they are in focus and not blurred.

    And like I said earlier, this kind of shot has different challenges than motor racing. Wth motor racing there are only two planes of movement, side to side and near and far, with horses you are going up and down, and legs going everywhere, maybe not near and far for focus. But certainly more movement blur albeit that it is slower than motor racing.

    my 2c worth

  18. #18
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Horse Races - 2nd Try at Panning with a Slow Shutter Speed Part 1

    Hi L Paul.

    I just read something that said the shutter speed for panning should be the same as the focal length which means I should try a shutter speed of 600 instead of 40-60 but this contradicts what I have read on some horse race photography sites where the shutter speeds seem very low.

    I will try a higher shutter speed and getting closer next time around.

    Yes, but I want to learn to do this in camera so I'm going to try.


    Quote Originally Posted by pnodrog View Post
    Christina I think your priorities are wrong. The shutter speed and paning actions primary purpose is to capture the subject clearly. If you want the background to be blurred by the panning action you will need to be closer and sweep the pan at a higher speed. The movement of the horse and jockey will force you to use a higher shutter speed (1/200th minimum?) if you want to have an acceptable success rate. Less tightly framed photographs and cropping later will also give you a higher success rate and more options with the final composition.

    The background can always be modified if you must in PP but a blurry horse and rider or a chopped off tail cannot. As I said in another thread SOOC is a worthy objective but not a reliable technique and even less so for demanding subjects.

  19. #19
    rawill's Avatar
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    Re: Horse Races - 2nd Try at Panning with a Slow Shutter Speed Part 1

    Quote Originally Posted by pnodrog View Post
    If you want the background to be blurred by the panning action you will need to be closer and sweep the pan at a higher speed. The movement of the horse and jockey will force you to use a higher shutter speed (1/200th minimum?) if you want to have an acceptable success rate. Less tightly framed photographs and cropping later will also give you a higher success rate and more options with the final composition.
    I think these comments are thought provoking. Certainly closer will challenge your panning technique, keeping up with the horse and rider. The higher SS will help freeze the legs, this may enhance the shot, it depends if you want the legs frozen.
    I am not sure, I suspect I would, as the blur would be in the background. I would have to compare different shots.

    Certainly worth thinking about.

  20. #20
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    Re: Horse Races - 2nd Try at Panning with a Slow Shutter Speed Part 1

    No. 5 (is alive - shows his age).

    I like No. 5 which is reminiscent of those classic old paintings - where they always have the front legs pointing forward and the back legs backward and in sharp "focus", unlike yours which has a nice mix of motion blur and frozen action in the right places.

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