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05-24-2013, 11:08 AM - 2 Likes   #1
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Johan Holmgren's Avatar

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Panning Exercise

Hi, fellow Pentaxians!

Ok, I just got this new (old) telelens to my K-5, the M*300 f4, that I bought from a member here. Now Iīm of course really eager to try it out on some wildlife, and I guess birds especially since they can be found around. Problem is that Iím housebound at the moment, my baby girl sees to that. Not that I mind, itís a wonderful preoccupation and pastime! But my trigger finger is really starting to itch. And before you point it out, yes I do take lots of pictures of the little one, thatís why I got the camera in the first place . But itís not that type of itch I got. Itís the one where you stalk everything that moves in the wild.

Held back by the circumstances I realised that I can at least practise and prepare myself for when itís time. I mean, I donít claim to be a good shooter out there, far from it, and improvement on technique is always welcome. Getting the movements to my muscle memory is what I try to achieve. When that rare bird swoops overhead or the three-horned elk darts by, itís not the time for practice. So I came up with an easy setup to practice panning at home, and I thought I would share it with you. Itís easy to do if you are bored or lazy to leave the house on a rainy day.

Firstly, one important thing I noticed that became obvious with a long lens is the technique for pushing the shutter button. I started standing at home and focusing on something small on the wall, keeping the frame as steady as I could. At the same time trying to find a position where I was relaxed and comfortable overtime. Now, what I noticed was that when I pushed the trigger the lens moved ever so slightly to the right due to the power of my index finger. Just a very minor tremble. With the camera switched off I started pushing the button from half to fully depressed over and over again, adjusting my pressure technique until I could do this unnoticed. Then I tried to do the same while moving the lens around and pressing the shutter to get it fluent.

Over to my contraption for panning: I just filled a cola bottle with a little water and hung it from the ceiling in a string. Make it swing and you have something to pan. I used my 135mm lens from a distance of about 2 meters and it really let me take out the movements trying to constantly follow the bottle and keep it in the middle of the frame. Running the pendulum at an oblique course also means changing focus. I use manual lenses so I also tried to practice keeping the focus at the same time, which I have to admit is quite a challenge. You really donít have to take pictures all the time. Do it with the camera off just to get the feeling.



Here is a reference shot of the bottle not moving.



Ideally what one wants to see is the moving object being sharp and the background affected with motion blur, and not the other way around. Of course the faster the shutter speed the easier it is to get a sharp object. For practice I used slower and slower speeds because it will enhance your errors. I also tried to catch the bottle at itís lowest point where the movement is the fastest. Unfortunately the bottle also kept spinning which sometimes resulted in blurred text even if the panning was ok.

f5,6 1/350


At 1/180 itís getting harder and a lot of pics turned out like this.


Or like this, good tracking it seems, but out of focus.


Than Istarted to get results


After some practice I could even get some ok shots at 1/40


But that was mostly luck I guess, since many of them looked like this


Here is the IMPORTANT thing. These pics below, taken with an smc M 55mm at 1/125 can show you what the triggering practice is good for. In any sport where you move your aim and pull a trigger, like skeet for instance, there is a mistake thatís easy to do.Your body involuntary tenses just when you pull the trigger, and for only a split of a second, at the most important time, your tracking movement stops. Look at the pink cartoon face on the babysitter, itís at the same focal distance as the bottle. Quite a few pics looked like this, an indication that I stopped at the triggering moment, even if I never realised it or felt it myself.



When done right it should look more like this. Pink face with motion blur and (somewhat)sharp bottle!





Well,thatís it folks. Something to do on a rainy dayÖ
Next up for me if I get the time will be standing next to a busy road with my 300mm and practice panning cars .

Thanks for watching!
Regards/Johan

05-24-2013, 11:51 AM   #2
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Man, when I saw the first picture with the pendulum setup I just started laughing (in a good way) It seems you got something out of your excercise.
Others with more experience will guide you better but this is what I know:
- There is a relation between subject speed, direction and distance to subject that will output the best shutter speed for each case (there are tabulated tables on the web)
- Move your body and not your arms to avoid staying still while pressing the shutter
- Some differ on this but is it a tool: continuous drive and start taking pictures before the target meets the place / moment you want to capture.
- Monopod is great for panning.
- Use TAv to have enough depth of field and correct shutter speed.

I think there is more info on this related to video, where panning and subject following is more common

Francisco
05-24-2013, 12:05 PM   #3
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This is just amazing. Kudos to you for this.
05-24-2013, 06:27 PM   #4
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Now that is dedication! I admire you for knowing ahead of time that it takes practice to shoot wildlife. Also for identifying small things like how your shutter finger can affect your camera movement and shake.

Not only practicing with manual focus, there is quite a learning curve just shooting longer focal lengths like the 300mm.

05-25-2013, 05:51 AM   #5
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Original Poster
QuoteOriginally posted by carrrlangas Quote
- There is a relation between subject speed, direction and distance to subject that will output the best shutter speed for each case (there are tabulated tables on the web)
- Move your body and not your arms to avoid staying still while pressing the shutter
- Some differ on this but is it a tool: continuous drive and start taking pictures before the target meets the place / moment you want to capture.
- Monopod is great for panning.
- Use TAv to have enough depth of field and correct shutter speed.
Thanks for the advice, Fransisco!
A monopod with a ballhead or tilting capacity could be useful, shall look into that.

QuoteOriginally posted by JinDesu Quote
This is just amazing. Kudos to you for this.
Thank you Jin, I'm happy you liked it! Makes it worthwile to share.

QuoteOriginally posted by stormtech Quote
Now that is dedication! I admire you for knowing ahead of time that it takes practice to shoot wildlife. Also for identifying small things like how your shutter finger can affect your camera movement and shake.

Not only practicing with manual focus, there is quite a learning curve just shooting longer focal lengths like the 300mm.
Thank you for the kind Words Stormtech. I agree, I can't just pick up a fine lens like that and expect to perform at it's level. Maybe it's just me, but i find these exercises quite fun, especially when I don't have any alternatives as with my current situation .

Cheers / Johan
05-28-2013, 08:33 PM   #6
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Honey, I feel you. I had a very sick first and less sick but still enough sick second child. You can certainly come up things to keep yourself busy. Sewing was my passion at the time and some interesting projects were generated. mama hugs!
05-29-2013, 12:46 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by haycyn Quote
Honey, I feel you. I had a very sick first and less sick but still enough sick second child. You can certainly come up things to keep yourself busy. Sewing was my passion at the time and some interesting projects were generated. mama hugs!
Thanks for the warming thoughts! Fortunately it's just something temporary. Hope your little ones grew healthy over time.
05-29-2013, 02:39 PM   #8
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Interesting. I'm wondering, seeing the complete setup who really is the child here?

Do remember to turn SR off when panning, it will get confused, especially at the end of the arc

05-30-2013, 01:06 AM   #9
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I aspire to be as young at heart as I can for as long as I can :-).
Good advice about the SR, I didn't think about turning it off before. It's something that's just always on in the background since I shoot handheld most of the time. Will try panning without it.
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