Exercise; Panning with different shutter speeds

This exercise involved panning the camera to follow the movement of the subject. Whereas the last set of photos had been taken with the vehicles moving away from me, for this exercise I moved to the right hand edge of the bridge. This actually made panning a bit more difficult as I had to follow a diagonal line to track the movement of the cars. It took a bit of getting used to, but eventually I started to get better at it. (You might ask why, for this and the previous exercise, I didn’t just take the photos from the side of the road. The simple answer is that I wanted to do something a little different to the photos taken by many other people. A slightly different angle on the subject.)

All ten photos for this exercise are on my Photo Gallery – link is in the top menu.

Again, as with the previous exercise, the faster shutter speeds gave little impression of movement, at 1/500sec the panning means that the number plate of a fast moving car is clear and there is just a slight blur to the cones at the side of the road and the foliage behind.

At 1/200sec, my panning action wasn’t good enough to keep the van sharply in view, but it is still much clearer than the background. This is starting to give a sense of movement in the picture.

At 1/125sec the van and car below are easily recognisable, although not sharp, but the background (and cones in the foreground) are much more blurred and this gives an increasing impression of speed.

With a shutter speed of 1/30 second (and a slower moving vehicle) I was able to get a phot which, to me, has made even a waste tanker look interesting. The background is so blurred as to be indistinguishable and the blurred foreground all add to the sense of movement. This to me is enhanced by the fact that the waste tanker is also blurred, but still recognisable. This is my favourite picture from this and the previous exercise.

With a shutter speed of just 1/15 second my panning technique, and the speed of the cars, was insufficient to get any sense of the vehicles themselves and resulted in blurred colours.

What I have learned from these two exercises is notnecessarily  to simply take a photo that records the scene in minute detail. Sometimes a more pleasing effect can be obtained by using a slower shutter speed and perhaps panning, to give a more impressionistic effect. I think the photos that froze the action with a high shutter speed have taken away any sense of speed of the vehicles and, in turn, made them into less interesting pictures.


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