Saturday, March 27, 2010

Panning as an art

Panning with a subject is one of those things that requires a lot of practice. It's not too hard when it's an airplane or something large that is moving across the sky in a fairly even manner. It's a completely different thing when it's a bird close to the water. Large things just don't move as erratically as larger, more massive things.

The basic idea is to rotate your body to keep the subject in the frame, while keeping the composition. Then by using a slower shutter speed you can get a nice artistically blurred background. If you can do this while it's on a monopod or tripod, so much the better. The Canon 100-400 IS lens actually has a special anti-shake mode for doing panning. I'm not sure it works if you shoot portrait mode.

The photo to the right was taken at Golden Gate Park, there is a lake north of Martin Luther King Drive and west of 25th. It's also where I took the photo of the goose.

These mallards are in full breeding colors, and are amazing to observe. However, if you try to take a photo of one, they can be difficult to track across the sky. This shot was taken with the 100-400 mm zoom at 400 mm, 1/250 th of a second, f.11. They can fly very erratically, dodging around things and generally making it difficult to pan with them.

An admission on my part, if I don't know how something works on my camera, I tend not to use it. It took me quite a while to start using the ISO as an adjustable parameter for every shot. I think that the auto-focus mode where it pays attention to the 7 sensors in the viewfinder might help for this type of shot. I'll have to give it a try in slightly more controlled experiment.

What modes do people use for auto-focus when shooting moving objects?

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