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Thread: Horse Races - 2nd try panning - Part 2 with Macro Lens

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    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Horse Races - 2nd try panning - Part 2 with Macro Lens

    I'm trying to learn how to pan to blur away distracting backgrounds and manage sharp focus on some part of the horse... I didn't manage to do it well in this set but I'm posting with the hope that others may advise on what I didn't do well so I can try and improve for the next time around...

    I photographed these using my 105 mm macro lens because it is a sharp lens with an aperture of 2.8 so... I thought it would be easier to blur the background using this lens but the reality of the situation was that I had way too much clipping shooting wide open so it wasn't necessary.

    It was pouring rain, monsoon style, and I was freezing cold and had to hold an umbrella while panning (to protect my camera) which proved to be difficult to do, so I'm not going to try using this lens again on a rainy day.

    I'm posting several images only because I would like to hear some feedback on any of the photos so I may try and improve next time around.


    Manual SS 60 Aperture 4-10 ISO 100, 320 or 640


    #1 (this guy seems sharper but the horse looks rather odd)

    Horse Races - 2nd try panning - Part 2 with Macro Lens

    #2

    Horse Races - 2nd try panning - Part 2 with Macro Lens

    #3 (the worst of the bunch, I think)

    Horse Races - 2nd try panning - Part 2 with Macro Lens

    #4 (the best of the bunch despite the background?)

    Horse Races - 2nd try panning - Part 2 with Macro Lens

    #5

    Horse Races - 2nd try panning - Part 2 with Macro Lens

    #6

    Horse Races - 2nd try panning - Part 2 with Macro Lens

    #7

    Horse Races - 2nd try panning - Part 2 with Macro Lens

    #8 (the best of the bunch?)

    Horse Races - 2nd try panning - Part 2 with Macro Lens

    I can see a lot of motion blur in this set. Perhaps it is simply because it is not possible to pan well when holding an umbrella which would be confirmed by the fact that I didn't manage to obtain the streaked background that I managed to do in part 1.

    Also my horses look a little odd in some of the shots and this puzzles me. Personally I think the ones shot with the 300 mm lens (part 1) turned out far better.

    In short, I know that these shots are of poor quality and I would be very appreciative to know what techniques I might try next time around, and I'm hoping that it might be obvious from one of the photos.

    Thank you.

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    Cogito's Avatar
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    Re: Horse Races - 2nd try panning - Part 2 with Macro Lens

    Subject-wise, 1,5,6 and 8 are o.k because you haven't cropped a horse's backside....
    Panning is an art. And when you pan you must ensure that your subject remains in focus. You said you used ISI 100 - 640. But what f-stop? To keep a racehorse in focus, speed is of the essence.
    Maybe a bit of PP including sharpening could improve the images.

    This was shot on 100 asa film back in 1980 and I probably didn't have to pan. Lucky, I guess, I did win about $600..Are you just too near the action? And forget trying to hold an umbrella as well as a camera....

    Horse Races - 2nd try panning - Part 2 with Macro Lens

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    Re: Horse Races - 2nd try panning - Part 2 with Macro Lens

    Hi Tony,

    Thank you for your reply. Truly appreciated. This is my 2nd try at panning and I can see that it is challenging to do.

    Most of these shots were taken at an aperture of F4 but some at F10 only to reduce highlight clipping.

    I used a Shutter speed of 40-60 for these shots taken with a 105 mm lens, and the same shutter speed taken with a 300 mm lens (those shots turned out better). For a 300 mm lens do you think I should try a SS of 600 or is that too fast? I want to blur and streak the background.

    These were taken close right at the rail and in hindsight I think being up in the grandstand with a longer lens is better for panning (And yes no umbrella)

    This is a learning exercise for me so I'm not going to bother with post processing (the basics were done).... But I will do once I manage a nicer shot.

    It is very nice to see a beautiful horse race shot. Thank you for sharing. If you have more horse race photos I would love to see them.

    These are the type of blurry shots I'm trying to achieve

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


    Quote Originally Posted by Cogito View Post
    Subject-wise, 1,5,6 and 8 are o.k because you haven't cropped a horse's backside....
    Panning is an art. And when you pan you must ensure that your subject remains in focus. You said you used ISI 100 - 640. But what f-stop? To keep a racehorse in focus, speed is of the essence.
    Maybe a bit of PP including sharpening could improve the images.

    This was shot on 100 asa film back in 1980 and I probably didn't have to pan. Lucky, I guess, I did win about $600..Are you just too near the action? And forget trying to hold an umbrella as well as a camera....

    Horse Races - 2nd try panning - Part 2 with Macro Lens
    Last edited by Brownbear; 29th September 2013 at 11:43 PM. Reason: Add comment

  4. #4
    Cogito's Avatar
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    Re: Horse Races - 2nd try panning - Part 2 with Macro Lens

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina S View Post
    Hi Tony, Thank you for your reply. Truly appreciated. This is my 2nd try at panning and I can see that it is challenging to do. Most of these shots were taken at an aperture of F4 but some at F10 only to reduce highlight clipping.
    I don't think an alteration to your f-stop will affect your highlight clipping...

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina S View Post
    I used a Shutter speed of 40-60 for these shots taken with a 105 mm lens, and the same shutter speed taken with a 300 mm lens (those shots turned out better). For a 300 mm lens do you think I should try a SS of 600 or is that too fast? I want to blur and streak the background.
    The lens is immaterial. Use whatever you prefer.. If you mean 1/40th or 1/60th of a second, then no that will not stop a galloping horse. Your background blur will come from the camera panning not the shutter speed. While panning, you'll probably need a shutter speed of 1/100th minimum to achieve a sharp horse. So open up the lens as wide as it can go, or maybe choose shutter priority.

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina S View Post
    These were taken close right at the rail and in hindsight I think being up in the grandstand with a longer lens is better for panning (And yes no umbrella)
    This is a learning exercise for me so I'm not going to bother with post processing (the basics were done).... But I will do once I manage a nicer shot.
    You've already got a nice shot.....

    Horse Races - 2nd try panning - Part 2 with Macro Lens


    Quote Originally Posted by Christina S View Post
    It is very nice to see a beautiful horse race shot. Thank you for sharing. If you have more horse race photos I would love to see them.
    Here's a link to the 6 I shot (or at least scanned and posted!!!!)

    http://tonysx.zenfolio.com/p225618677

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    Re: Horse Races - 2nd try panning - Part 2 with Macro Lens

    Hi Christina

    Tony's first shot on here does not have any background blur so I am thinking that is not what you are looking for.
    On a slow speed, say 1/80, you get background blur, but you have to pan to keep the subject in focus.

    You will have to ask yourself how much background blur you want.

    Take the shot above, because the horses are not side on, more front on, getting blur is difficult as not much panning is going on, compared with side on as in your shots.
    However, note: The last horse and rider are not in focus, I am thinking that is outside the camera's capabilities.
    Last edited by rawill; 30th September 2013 at 12:21 AM.

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    Re: Horse Races - 2nd try panning - Part 2 with Macro Lens

    Christina, your shot 7, and the example you put the link to are great shots.

    The link shot is very good, note:
    In my view the background adds, rather than distracts from the shot.
    This is a bit like my "light towers".

    The streakiness on cars, poles adds to the movement, and also the sense of event.
    And in this case the "outstretchedness" really adds the picture and story.

    A good shot. Well chosen.

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    Re: Horse Races - 2nd try panning - Part 2 with Macro Lens

    Hi Christina,

    I certainly admire your determination to try and achieve the best you can at this specific subject.

    Just do a google search of 'panning shots of horse racing'. What you will see are images very similar to yours.

    We have all seen the superb shots of racing cars panned where they are tack sharp with wheels only blurred, with a similar background to what you are trying to achieve, but these are far easier in comparison as the main subject, car body, is generally only moving in one straight smooth plane. Your horses bodies and legs are not only moving in one plane from left to right but also parts are moving up and down. Simply, to freeze an adequate amount of the subject may require a SS that is too high to give an acceptable motion blur between horse and background due to the relative linear speed (left to right) between the two.

    What I am suggesting/querying is that you may have already achieved the best possible results with your subjects at this galloping speed. Additionally a greater motion blur of the background would be achieved if the background was closer rather than farther from the horse I believe.

    PS, I have now re read your post above and visited the link to the examples you gave. Superb images and note that the best are where the horses direction is literally parallel to the sensor giving the max across frame speed.

    Grahame
    Last edited by Stagecoach; 30th September 2013 at 03:12 AM.

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    Re: Horse Races - 2nd try panning - Part 2 with Macro Lens

    Christina, all of the following statements are IMO;

    The focal length used for panning any moving subject would be determined by:

    1. Your shooting distance
    2. The size of the subject you are panning with
    3. The lenses you own - unless you plan on buying or renting lenses

    It is nice to have a lens with a wide aperture so you can use selective focus to blur the background and it is nice when the lens will give you acceptable image quality wide open.

    A camera/lens with excellent auto focus capability is also nice to have. Before the advent of the Canon 7D; the best focusing in the Canon line was with the 1D Series of cameras. However the 7D brought that AF capability into the world of crop cameras. I don't know if Nikon has different focusing characteristics between different lenses and different cameras but, shooting with the most capable combination would be beneficial in any sports photography (and also birds in flight photography also).

    It is easier to pan with a car or motorcycle than a horse because the car or motorcycle usually zips along without jogging up and down. Additionally, the horses legs are moving and will not be frozen by the pan, so the shutter speed you want to use may be faster than the shutter speed for cars or motorcycles. However, blurred legs might give the impression of speed.

    When shooting a sports event from an established location, a zoom lens is often handy to use because it is seldom that your distance and subject matches the focal length of a prime lens. And; you cannot "zoom with your feet" at sports events!

    If you have a lens with jiggle compensation such as Canon IS, Tamron VC and Nikon VR; it is nice to have a jiggle system that works well with panning. With several of my Canon L telephoto lenses (both prime and zoom) there is a IS Mode one which compensates for both vertical and horizontal movement. The Mode Two just compensates for vertical (up and down) jiggle. The mode Two is the one to use for panning shots.

    BTW: standing by the side of a road (in a safe location) and panning with cars passing by can provide some good practice for panning. I suspect that horse races don't give enough practice. If you stand at one spot at the track, you will probably only get a total of a couple of minutes of horses passing you during the racing card for a full day...

    This YouTube video gives some valid points regarding panning at a bike race - which should be somewhat akin to horse races except that the riders are probably a lot closer to you and the bike and rider is a smaller target than the horse and rider...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7DjOy2hN5NI
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 30th September 2013 at 03:43 AM.

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    Re: Horse Races - 2nd try panning - Part 2 with Macro Lens

    Hi Christina

    I really like the two contributions above, especially the one that says you might have got to your goal already.

    I did not say in my posts that race horse panned shots would be harder than motor racing, just different.
    I wanted to keep the idea in my head that motor racing was harder!~!
    But my cover has been blown, and the truth is out.
    In fairness to me I did point out the many different directions that the horse and rider were going in, making that quite a different challenge.

    In spite of the slower pace of the horses compared with cars, I do believe it is much harder to get a good horse and rider shot.

    And, good on you for starting a great discussion in 3 threads.
    I am sure I have been on a learning curve on panning "speedshots" I have been learning while reading here too.

    Many thanks

    Rbn
    Off to practice more motorsport shots this weekend.
    Hey I like the idea of panning normal road cars for practice.

    Like throwing seagulls bread to practise in flight shots.

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    Re: Horse Races - 2nd try panning - Part 2 with Macro Lens

    Hi Christina, (again)

    Thinking again about your quest to achieve a good motion blur in the background of the horses another consideration that 'may' come into the equation is;

    If panning your subject what gives a better visual representation of motion blur in the background?

    a) a background that would have been in focus if you were not panning
    or
    b) a background that would not have been in focus if you were not panning?


    I have a sneaking suspicion that a more in-focus background is going to give a greater impression of motion blur than an already out of focus blurry one, but of course I could be totally wrong. I would have done some experiments to find out but it's very dark here

    Grahame

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    Re: Horse Races - 2nd try panning - Part 2 with Macro Lens

    Hi Tony,

    Thank you for sharing and for some very helpful advice. I will try a faster shutter speed next time around.

    I am confused by your comment on not being able to prevent clipping by using a smaller aperture because from my experience on this particular day from a test shot with my camera in Manual mode, SS 40 or 60 and Aperture 2.8 and I could see tons of clipping in the white railing and white background sign and by choosing a smaller and smaller aperture I could see that I could prevent the clipping, likely used in combination with exposure compensation so the horses were not too, dark.

    As to the the photo you like, thank you, appreciated but personally I don't like this photo because of the background which I find unattractive and distracting. This is the very reason I am trying to learn to pan, ie; so I can blur away the background. I think the racetrack where you take your photos is far prettier than the racetrack that I visit.

    Thank you for sharing your lovely photos, a pleasure to view.




    Quote Originally Posted by Cogito View Post
    I don't think an alteration to your f-stop will affect your highlight clipping...



    The lens is immaterial. Use whatever you prefer.. If you mean 1/40th or 1/60th of a second, then no that will not stop a galloping horse. Your background blur will come from the camera panning not the shutter speed. While panning, you'll probably need a shutter speed of 1/100th minimum to achieve a sharp horse. So open up the lens as wide as it can go, or maybe choose shutter priority.



    You've already got a nice shot.....

    Horse Races - 2nd try panning - Part 2 with Macro Lens




    Here's a link to the 6 I shot (or at least scanned and posted!!!!)

    http://tonysx.zenfolio.com/p225618677

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    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Horse Races - 2nd try panning - Part 2 with Macro Lens

    Hi Grahame,

    Thanks for the thought. I don't know so I will have to try it

    Quote Originally Posted by Stagecoach View Post
    Hi Christina, (again)

    Thinking again about your quest to achieve a good motion blur in the background of the horses another consideration that 'may' come into the equation is;

    If panning your subject what gives a better visual representation of motion blur in the background?

    a) a background that would have been in focus if you were not panning
    or
    b) a background that would not have been in focus if you were not panning?


    I have a sneaking suspicion that a more in-focus background is going to give a greater impression of motion blur than an already out of focus blurry one, but of course I could be totally wrong. I would have done some experiments to find out but it's very dark here

    Grahame

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    Re: Horse Races - 2nd try panning - Part 2 with Macro Lens

    You are there!!! You are there!!! regarding so called perfection ...that is purely subjective whose limits can be pushed to any extent!!!
    Regards

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    Re: Horse Races - 2nd try panning - Part 2 with Macro Lens

    Thank you to all for your comments and helpful advice.

    Robin and Grahame,
    Yes, I'm trying to achieve a more blurred streaky background and as soon as the weather improves I will try practicing on some cars and the next time at the races I will try to keep parallel the the horses. And it is always nice to know that others learn from the threads I start. I did the google thing and see that it brings up this thread amongst others that I will take a look at. I

    Richard,

    As always thank you for a very informative and helpful reply. The u-tube video was helpful to watch as I could immediately see that I have not been panning fast enough, I've been using a slower panning motion trying to hold the focus...

    None of my lens have IS or VR, and my best lens are my 105 macro and 300 mm long lens. I have one zoom lens a 28-200 mm lens but it doesn't seem to focus fast enough. Perhaps next spring when the races start again I will invest in a better zoom lens which goes to 300 mm.

    And yes, I will practice on some cars. And good to know that the up and down motion of the horses is a factor that makes it extra challenging, ie; it's not just me.

    Until next week...

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    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Horse Races - 2nd try panning - Part 2 with Macro Lens

    Thank you Nandakumar,

    Truly appreciated. I have a vision of the shot that I hope to capture, blurry perfect background with the horses head in sharp focus, somewhat artistic. Two more tries before the season ends, and I hope to post one that says I think I'm there or nearly there, but if not, next Spring, will do.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wavelength View Post
    You are there!!! You are there!!! regarding so called perfection ...that is purely subjective whose limits can be pushed to any extent!!!
    Regards

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