Category Archives: Introduction

Panning with different shutter speeds

Having settled on shooting a train for the shutter speed exercise, I also considered it a suitable subject for this one but chose a different vantage point which I thought was more suited to panning shots as it had a reasonable length visible track.

Taken at 1/8 sec at f18

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Taken at 1/13 sec at f14

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Taken at 1/15 sec at f29

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Taken at 1/25 sec at f22

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Taken at 1/40 sec at f18

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Taken at 1/60 sec at f11

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Taken at 1/125 sec at f10

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Taken at 1/160 sec at f6.3

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Taken at 1/200 sec at f8

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Taken at 1/400 sec at f5

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As in the shutter speed exercise there is a speed of shutter after which the technique of panning becomes ineffective because the speed of the shutter precludes any movement of the background in relation to the subject. In the above shots I would say that this occurs at shutter speeds in excess of 1/200 of a second.

Of the shots in this exercise, and the previous one, my preference is for these two:-

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I like the fact that you can see the detail of the train, particularly the lettering, and that it is evident that the train is moving at speed.

From the earlier shutter speed exercise I preferred the shot taken at 1/10 as gives a nice blur both horizontally and vertically – with the carriage gap:-

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I have previously used panning as a technique, primarily (as might be expected) with motorsports, but it is not one that I would normally use unless I have spotted it as a possible option:-


FIA European Rallycross Championship at Lydden Hill. Camera Sony DSLR-A900; Exposure 1/200 sec; Aperture f/18.0; Focal Length 200 mm and ISO Speed 200.

Panning on the Southbank. Camera Sony SLT-A77V; Exposure 1/30 sec; Aperture f/16.0; Focal Length 40 mm and ISO Speed 200.

Shutter speeds

To illustrate the effect of using different shutter speeds I thought I would shoot trains going by from a nearby nature reserve. I had previously considered using skateboarders at the Southbank centre but was not happy with the results in that I did not have a clear shot at all speeds and the background was too busy.

The following shots were all shot with a Sony A900 24-70mm lens at 70mm at ISO 200.

Shutter speed 1 second

Shutter speed 0.5 seconds
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Shutter speed 0.4 seconds
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Shutter speed 0.25 seconds
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Shutter speed 1/6 second
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Shutter speed 1/8 second
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Shutter speed 1/10 second
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Shutter speed 1/13 second
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Shutter speed 1/100 second
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Shutter speed 1/125 second
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Shutter speed 1/160 second
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Shutter speed 1/200 second
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Shutter speed 1/320 second
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Shutter speed 1/400 second
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Shutter speed 1/500 second
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Shutter speed 1/800 second
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As far as shooting a moving subject is concerned, it has to be realised that if the shutter speed is too slow the subject will either be invisible or unrecognisable (see the first three shots above) and while giving an abstract feel to the shot concerned, it may not provide the style of shot required. On the other hand, too fast a shutter speed then the subject will be frozen and any indication of movement lost (except if used in conjunction with panning – see next post) see the shots above at 1/320 of a second and faster. So the most effective setting in the above case, in my view, is probably the 1/13 and 1/100 second shots in which the subject can recognised but it is also clear that there is movement going on.

There was a variable that was outside my control – the speed of the train – but I think the various trains shot were travelling at a similar speed. It is not until shutter speeds of 1/320 of a second is used, that the detail becomes clear – in particular the lettering on the train. As it was a misty morning the sharpness of the shots are compromised somewhat but nevertheless the effect of altering the shutter speed is clearly shown.

I’ve been fascinated by high speed photography since a teenager and at the time marvelled how photographers like Stephen Dalton managed to take the shots he did (his book Split Second describes his technique from the pre digital era). These days the technology allows the use of extremely fast shutter speeds (my A900 goes up to 1/8000 and can sync with flash at these high speeds):-

“Norman was here”
Camera Sony DSLR-A900; Exposure 1/8000; Aperture f/2.8; Focal Length 70 mm and ISO Speed 200

In addition I’ve used shutter speeds at the other end of the scale to make different effects:-

“Zooooom”
Camera Sony DSLR-A700; Exposure 20 seconds; Aperture f/22.0; Focal Length 30 mm and ISO Speed 200.

Focus at different apertures

Although the exercise instructions said find a similar subject, I instead opted for a macro shoot using a Sony A57 at 400 ISO , a Walimex manual focus 85mm lens at its widest aperture f1.4; at f5.6 and at f22, coupled with a 36mm extension tube. Given the setup, the depth of field at all of these apertures was going to be small but it was however, recognisably different as the following shots illustrate:-

f1.4 @ 1/10 second

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f5.6 @ 1.6 seconds

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f22 @ 10 seconds

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As can be seen the first shot only places a small area of the front and central brown square in focus; the second shot all of the square and the third nearly three squares deep in focus.

I also tried some further shots of the white pieces of the chess set:-

f1.4 @ 1/30 second

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f5.6 @ 1 second

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f22 @ 6 seconds

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The Depth of Field here ranges from a very small area in front of the cross on top of the centre piece to three pieces. So as well as enabling more light (and thus faster shots – useful for indoor shots concerts etc) the use of varying apertures can be used creatively to create an image that the eye would not normally consciously be creating:-

Catkins at f2.8

Harbour Camera Sony DSLR-A900; Exposure 1/8000 sec; Aperture f/2.8; Focal Length 26 mm & ISO Speed 400

Focus with a set aperture

For this exercise, of shooting a scene with depth but focusing on it at dfferent points, I used a manual focus 85mm lens at F1.4 as I thought it would show up the depth of field on the three shots better. The subject I chose was the Pantiles at Tunbridge Wells, a) because it is very photogenic and b) there are a lot of signs and columns which I thought would lend themselves to the exercise:-

All three shots at 1/60th and ISO 400

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Of the three shots above I am torn between the front focus and mid focus shots but on balance I think I prefer the mid focus shot as the central, in focus, area draws you into the shot and the out of focus areas front and back emphasise the sign. The rear focus, to me, does not have anything strong enough in the in focus area to draw your eye.

As it turned out there were a few of sets of three I thought I could use, this being one of the other ones:-

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Of these three, in contrast to the above, I prefer the rear focused shot (right), as the the composition draws you in to see what is happening at the end of the row of columns/shops and has an air of mystery to it – possibly helped by the figures (is she walking away from him?). The other two while having an impact (particularly the front focused shot) dont have anything additional to engage the viewer.

These three shots again with 85mm lens F1.4, 1/80 ISO400.

Some thoughts on focal length

As part of the TAOP course, the introduction is designed to get you to get to know your camera and has some exercises to enable you to do this.  The first concerns focal length and I am going to go a bit further with it.  My original idea was to take a series of shots in a nearby park but was not happy with the result (see photos below.) I thought it would be a good idea to take the three photos as indicated in the exercise, and then take photos of the resultant prints in the context of the shot taken all with a lens at standard setting.

If I my thoughts are correct it will be an interesting exercise to see how far away, or near the shots need to be from the camera addition to the distances determined in the exercise.  The subject I have chosen is in Southborough high street, picking a view that is not likely to change over the day or so the exercise is carried on over.

I also had a look at my existing shots on Flickr using a neat tool that searches the exif data of your Flickr collection. It can be found here:- http://stats.ghusse.com. My full frame lenses range from 12mm to 400mm (12-24;24-70;70-400) and so I concentrated on this range as I wanted to see how many shots I had taken at or around the “standard” 50mm focal length. As can be seen from the chart below, of some 3200 pictures only 68 were around that length with no real common type of useage.

Exif Data focal Length<

So by this, very rough, analysis this standard length, in my useage to date, has not been used to extent that might have been expected. It begs the question then, that if you are not constrained by having a 50mm or equivalent prime lens, would you normally take shots in the same manner as you would see them? On this evidence, which I find reassuring – in that there is a wide variety of focal lengths used, the answer is that I usually do not.

These are the rejected shots taken at Knole Park:-

24mm

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50mm

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70mm

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All three shots taken on 1 December 2013 with Sony A900 and Zeiss 24-70 at F4 at speeds of 1/60, 1/30 & 1/20 respectively. ISO 160

I went instead for these three shots of the now closed Flying Dutchman Pub in Southborough high street as I felt they were more interesting than the Knole Park shots, and also considered that it may useful to revisit the pub once its is reopened/redeveloped:-

24mm

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50mm

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70mm

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All three shots taken on 2 December 2013 with Sony A900 and Zeiss 24-70 at F22 at speeds of 1/5, 1/4 & 1/4 respectively. ISO 400

The next step is to print these off and and carry out the exercise and also retake the above 24 mm shot with the prints included in the shots.

6th December 2013

Having printed off the three shots of the pub above at A4 I revisted the point from where I took them. In aligning the shots I found the 24mm shot needed to be held about 3-4 inches from my eyes to align with the actual subject. As had been indicated in the exercise instructions, at 50mm (the “standard” length) it was a comfortable bent arms length away for alignment, about 20 -22 incles while the 70mm needed a real stretch to get it aligned at about 35-37 inches,see pictures below, both taken at 24mm and f22:-

50mm

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70mm
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With hindsight I should have mounted the photos on card so as to easier align them but I think these shots indicate the difference as to the distance to alignment. However I must ask if 50mm is the standard focal length and is the “comfortable” viewing distance why aren’t more shots, both my own and in general, shot at that length? The answer is, in my view, that photographers will not necessaily see the conventional view. They have a tendency to either hone in on a particular aspect of a scene they are considering, or widen the view, perhaps to show the subject in context – or how big or little it is in comparison with other aspects of the shot.