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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre General Photography Talk 
Thread started 01 Jun 2015 (Monday) 04:52
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Panning Issues at Motorcross Event (Not Easy!)

 
PCousins
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Jun 01, 2015 04:52 |  #1

This weekend I attended the 2015 Pro-Nationals Motorcross event at Weston-Super-Mare (UK) on the beach. I have been to this event every year for the past 6 years. In the past years I have had some real cracking shots. However, my style has been to freeze the shots using fast shutter speeds.

I decided to rather than play safe but to attempt Panning using slow shutter speeds to get a feel for Speed.

It's made me realise that this is not easy. In fact my keeper rate was less than 5%. Out of 300+ images I would say 15-20 were shots I was happy with. I was probably being too fussy when PP but only decided to keep the real sharp images.

I was using Stabiliser Mode 2, all shots were hand held, light conditions were not too bad but it was ever so windy. I realise that this technique needs lots of practice. I would like to improve on my Panning skills and welcome any positive or negative comments.

Here are 4 of my best. Thank you for looking.

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J ­ Michael
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Jun 01, 2015 06:00 |  #2

Nice. Any interesting ones that show a ton of movement, subject blurred etc?




  
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BigAl007
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Jun 01, 2015 07:34 |  #3

There is one big advantage of digital when it comes to this, your not paying a price per shot. So shoot lots, you end up with more keepers, but around the same keeper rate. I mostly shoot airshows, but it's similar in that very often the best images are shot with challenging conditions. For example with the Sea King helicopter to get a good amount of blur on the main rotor you need to shoot hand held at 1/60 at focal lengths over 250mm. They don't move to fast at times which makes following them harder. Having a fairly quick panning speed helps to steady the camera. Burst mode also helps, I usually shoot a three/four shot burst. The first shot will useually suffer from vertical movement from pressing the shutter, so the three shot burst is really only going to give you a choice of two shots. Last weekend at Duxford airshow I shot over 2500 shots per day. I will be happy to get fifty really nice images from each day. I could have used a shutter speed of 1/fl with the 100-400L IS MKI that I was using on my 50D, but most of those images would be sharp, but look terrible with frozen propellors. At least with the Weston beach races you can mix and match high shutter speed frozen images, with slower panned shots to get the best of both worlds.

I spent some time in Weston, about two years in total between 83 and 86, while doing trade training with the RAF, although that was before they introduced the beach races. I was mostly there during the winter months too unfortunatly, I got three winters and only one summer. Do you know if you can still drive on the beach at Brean Sands? Used to have fun racing around on there in the summer evenings after work.

Alan


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PhotosGuy
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Jun 01, 2015 08:57 |  #4

BigAl007 wrote in post #17579370 (external link)
There is one big advantage of digital when it comes to this, your not paying a price per shot. So shoot lots, you end up with more keepers, but around the same keeper rate.

I agree. If you're at an event where they go past you several times, start with a "safe" shutter speed. Because of the way the shutter works, concentrate on keeping the focus point on the most important part of the subject. This will help to keep that part the sharpest part of the image, not because you've focused on it, but because you've reduced the movement of that area of the image.
Then slow down for the next series & more for the next series after that. Etc.

You have a big advantage over the Cruise shots that I do, because everyone is going at about the same speed, so what works for one guy will probably work for the next guy coming by.
I shoot in manual mode, but just in case something happens that I want a sharp shot of, I also set Tv & Av to a safe exposure so that I can quickly switch between them.

Last weekend at Duxford airshow I shot over 2500 shots per day. I will be happy to get fifty really nice images from each day.

That's the way it works when you push the limits. Here's some links to look over: first shoot with moving cars need advice.


FrankC - 20D, RAW, Manual everything...
Classic Carz, Racing, Air Show, Flowers.
Find the light... A few Car Lighting Tips, and MOVE YOUR FEET!
Have you thought about making your own book? // Need an exposure crutch?
New Image Size Limits: Image must not exceed 1600 pixels on any side.

  
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Luckless
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Jun 01, 2015 09:45 |  #5

In my experience I would say that panning shots are ideally done from the inside of a turn that has a fairly consistent radius and clear sight light to a subject that holds its pose through the turn. Of course 'holding pose' is less of an issue with vehicles than with a runner or skater, as there is usually fewer bits to flop around and blur in that case.

Being able to shoot with a reasonably high angular speed as you track a subject which is moving with smooth acceleration makes it a lot more reliable as well. I tend to pan from the hips and legs as much as possible while holding my upper body as steady as possible. Keep as large of a mass moving in the same motion as the camera is, and it holds steadier.

And personally I find I don't get nearly the keeper level when panning with a tripod or monopod in ideal conditions as I do from hand holding. (But the largest lens I've used for it has been my sigma 150-500mm. Milage may vary on that point.)

Start tracking the subject as early as possible with a continuous focus mode while using a high frame rate, and use continuous shutter mode to start taking photos a little before they get to the point you want your actual panning shot to be. (From hundreds of panning shots I've tried, I think I've gotten one usable image out of the first frame in a burst. That little shift of pressing the shutter button nearly always is going to show up in your panning motion and throw things off, and then things steady out as you track through the next few frames.) And keep following through in the panning motion past the point where you want your actual image to be.

Smooth motion that carries through from well before the point you want your photo at to well after that point keeps you as stable as possible.

Also, experiment and push your shutter speed as slow as you can. I forget what my slowest usable pan shot was, but it was down around 1/10th of a second on a human skater going around a curve. Practice, experiment, and don't be afraid to toss out 95% of the frames you record. Doesn't really cost you a noticeable amount to delete useless digital photos after all.

Another useful point is to put your focus point off centre so it is trailing in the frame. This helps get your subject to appear to be moving through the image, rather than looking more like they're leaving the frame.


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tonylong
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Jun 01, 2015 21:02 |  #6

I'd say the shots you posted were good!

You used a good shutter speed/aperture combination for panning -- the slower shutter speeds are a challenge, but do bring out the background/foreground motion blur, as well as the fact that you can see the wheels spinning while your AF is properly fixed on the vehicle! And the narrow aperture is good because it provides a decent depth-of-field that covers the bits of interest on the vehicle, while the rest of the scene is blurred with motion blur.

I haven't done actual motor sports, but something of interest is that I have spent time at a local airfield which small planes and an occasional helicopter make active use of. Those vehicles can really benefit from the panning technique, catching prop blur and background motion blue while having the body of the vehicle in nice focus...it can be very sweet checking out a shot showing the wanted "blurs" and then zooming in and being able to see the small details, like rivets on the body of a plane, or bits on a car that you can clearly make out!


Tony
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Panning Issues at Motorcross Event (Not Easy!)
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