Panning Still Objects

I got the inspiration for this technique while reading an article about photographer Ted Leeming and his interesting landscape photography. Intrigued but these these images I tried to reverse engineer this technique and have been experimenting with this a little during the last weekend and here’s what I figured out.

Camera settings:

Basically these images are just long-exposures with motion blur created by panning the camera through the scene/frame. So, I dialed in the lowest ISO on my camera (ISO 50) and since I have been shooting at daytime, I used the highest f-stop on my lens, f32 (ironically this also happens to be my sharpest lens) until I had a shutter speed of 1.3 seconds. If it’s too bright outside a ND-Filter will help to set up that shutter speed.

From my little testing I received the best results, at a shutter speed around one second. If it’s too long, the frame get’s too blurry for my taste and in case of tree trunks, just some streaks in the image. If it’s too fast on the other hand, the image just looks out-of-focus and unintended. Around 1 second though, it get’s blurry while still catching some of the detail.

Technique:

Now that I had my camera settings ready, I framed the image how I wanted it to turn out, then turned the camera up and then down again while releasing the shutter and slowly moved back to my intended framing. Best result I got, when I moved the lens down, before I pressed the shutter, so the camera was already in motion. It goes without saying, that this involves some practicing.

So far it worked the best for me, to move the camera/lens in the same direction as the subject. So in case of the tree trunk, from up to down, whereas in this flower.example I moved the camera in a little circular movement. Just experiment with different movements, it’s fun.

Subjects:

I chose subjects with clear lines and shapes and some color contrast to the background, such as these, tree trunks and flowers. I tried the same with different shapes as houses, boats etc, but the results I achieved where very unsatisfying, looked un-intended and just out-of-focus. For images like that, I could imagine a soft focus technique or the Orton-Effect to be much more effective.

Post processing:

Post processing these images, was a rather unspectacular act. Some WB adjustments, curves, clarity and vibrance and minor cropping in Lightroom and finally a some more color adjustments in LAB mode using Photoshop.

Conclusion:

I don’t see myself shooting like this all the time, but it’s a welcome edition to my growing repertoire of techniques. It’s a interesting and easy approach, gives some new ideas and is a good technique to use on otherwise those uninspiring, dull, boring and overcast days. On a side effect, it seems to make normal shots, look even sharper. But that might just be me.

I hope you like this little tutorial, and if you have any suggestions or comments, feel free to leave a comment or drop me a mail.

In the comments of my image “Forest in Pastels” photoblogger Jacques Bron posted links to his images, which he has done using this kind of technique (look here, here or here).

Have you been experimenting with this technique or have any suggestions, questions? Feel free to leave a note in the comments.

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