Panning – Photography Learning

So, you’ve already started taking pictures and you’re starting to get pretty good. Then you sign on to a photo sharing website and look at the featured photos saying “how did they do that?” Well, here are a few techniques you can use to take pictures that are a little different or more advanced.

The Panning Shot

A fun technique for taking pictures of moving objects is panning. It’s a pretty difficult skill to master, but once you do you can get some wonderful shots. In pictures with this technique, the subject, which is moving, appears clear while the background appears blurred. You do this simply (ok, maybe not so simply) by moving the camera with the subject as it moves. This can be difficult, because the field of your shot needs to be moving at the same speed as the subject. To best accomplish this, you should begin moving the camera before the subject enters your field, and continue moving the camera after the subject has exited (like following through on a basketball shot). Also, remember not to set your shutter speed too fast or the subject and background will both come out clear. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t perfect this technique right away – it’s tough; just keep practising.

Picture was taken using the panning technique. Notice the the couple on the bike is much clearer than the background. This shot isn’t perfect yet, but with practice you can make the subject perfectly clear while the background is blurred as shown above. To see the full size version of the picture, just click on it.

Slow Motion Water Pictures

Another fun technique is slow motion water shots. These are pictures where the background looks clean and crisp, but water in the scene appears almost as if it is a painting. This technique is accomplished by using a slow shutter speed (best is one to two seconds) and a tripod to steady your shot so the whole scene isn’t blurry. You then take a picture of water that is moving. My favorite use of this technique is to photograph waterfalls, but the water doesn’t need to be falling. It can be moving rapidly or flowing slowly over rocks and other objects. It does, however need to have moving edges to create the “flowy” effect. Also, it should be noted since you’re using a relatively slow shutter speed, the lighting should be low. Shooting at dusk or dawn is best; however, you can also shoot in a shaded area, heavy cloud cover, or after dark in an area with not a lot of lighting. And if you want to have a person in this type of picture, they need to remain perfectly still or they’ll appear blurry.

waterfall at night with flowing water effect

Waterfall photo was taken using a tripod and a 2 second exposure time. For the full size version of this photo, click on it.

Pinhole Camera Pictures

Another technique you can try, that might take a little more work to accomplish, is pinhole camera shots (yes, the things you use to look at eclipses). These are a great way to take pictures with an almost infinite depth of field. Make a box out of wood or cardboard that’s about a foot square. The inside of the box should be painted black on five sides and white on one. The white side will be the side you project your image onto. This is what you will actually be taking an image of. The opposite side of the box should have two holes cut into it: one for your camera lens (be sure to make this snug so you can block out the light from entering) and one in the center of the side for your pinhole. You then cover the hole in the center with silver foil and poke your pinhole. You can use this page to calculate your pinhole size. Once your camera is set up, be sure the camera is very still (you could use a tripod or even make a stand for it if you’re using wood) and take the shot. You should set your exposure length as long as you can because very little light is making it through the pinhole. One you get this technique down, you can take some great shots.

Pinhole camera picture of field - black and white

Black and white picture of a field using a pinhole camera. Notice the depth of the photo.

These are just a few techniques to take cool and interesting pictures. Try experimenting with them to see what you can come up with. If you get really good at them, try using the principles from these techniques to come up with other interesting shots you can take.

Source: Digital Shots Guide