Panning (Motion Blur)

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CanonSnob

CanonSnob

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I shot Indycars for 6-7 years back in the early 1990's.

I learned to shoot at about 1/30th or less (for artsy shots) with reeeeeeeally steady motion, without regard for aperture, to 1/200th (juuuust that little bit of motion or when they're at full song) with the smallest apertue I could get by with. On one occasion the sun was perfect but my backdrop had a trackside porto-san in it: I shot f2.8 with ND filters to slow my shutter, and blurred it away.

The difference in blur, front to back, is caused by your panning actions themselves. The kart looks like it's on a straight, and you are panning, right to left. The camera is turning, the car isn't, and something's gotta give - in that case it's the front of the cart. Additionally, you might be moving your body withut knowing it - that causes all manner of things like up and down blur in odd places. Maybe you took an involuntary breath. Photogaphers move a LOT when panning shooting race cars.

Tip: shooting from the apex of a corner and panning gives really smooth results - you're turning, the car's turning, life is good. I always did better with a longer lens from a distance - I could control my body rotation more.
Incidentally - that shot is quite good - go look at RACER or Road and Track and check their action/blur shots - this pic, if it was Hamilton, Andretti, or Tracy could keep up with the big boys and make a sale...too bad the sun wasn't out, though.

I sold the one below to On Track magazine in 1992 or 93 - shutter was something like 1/30 - it was the title shot for the article on Kim Green's racing team.

2267263318_3254246c79_o.jpg


Not a great scan, and not a particularly good shot, but see the difference in blur from the front to back tires? He went by me at an angle, about 90MPH, headed uphill to pit. Wierd angle to pan, and in the end I love the effect. The reason they liked the shot was because I missed my subject: I was shooting for Jaques' distinctive helmet, but his dad's car number (27) came in focus - the editor liked that. Funny how that works.

And the trick, when they're moving at 185 to 225 mph is similar to what Village said: start tracking early, as soon as you can, and (depending on shutter lag - cars could go 10-15 feet or so with my old film cameras) release the shutter just before the feature you're shooting for (helmet, for open wheels, driver or rider body for karts and bikes, sponsor name if you're on assignment) gets there. Keep the center focus on the feature, do NOT autofocus (nice thing about racing: they go by almost the same way every time. Lots of setup time available). Crop later.

And Double H - I shot NHRA twice and didn't sell a thing: drag racing was HARD to shoot! Your shots are lovely!

Cheers



That's what I was looking for! Thanks, i just didn't know how to explain it because I really didn't know exactly what "it" was. Just that it was some technique I wasn't grasping. The whole part about matching my camera swing with the apex makes SO much sense. The camera is coming around the same radius as the subject -->) ). Where I was on the out side of the turn counter acting the subject -->) (<--- which is what I was doing. HUGE discovery/lesson for me today. :hail:

I expect to see much better results next time Im out.

You suggest not using auto focus? Even though AI Servo (canon) tracks the subject... the whole mathematical algorithm deal that can calculate where the camera needs to be focused at the point the shutter releases. I would think I would do a lot worse with manual focus. That and would only get one chance per turn to get a shot (where as using AI I am shooting at the cameras 8.5fps and can get over 15 chances of getting one) Explain further if you could. You've been of great help comprehension wise thus far. Really appreciate it.

As for the shutter speed matching the focal length, I have heard that as well. I use that more for when Im trying to push a low light situation so as not to get camera shake but still get all the light I can get with the longest shutter speed possible. Where as here I want to get that overly exaggerated blur in the background and just shoot lots of shots and luck into a few spot on pans every now and then. Matching the shutter speed seems to get more blur like of the Drag shots above. I'm looking to get a disgusting amout of motion blur:D
 

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Can this blur difference between the front and the rear part because of vibration on the front side of the kart? At the front side there is steering part where different direction movement from the rear(left - right vibration) side is possible. IMHO Kart is leightweight so will vibrate easily.
 

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Hey CanonSnob,

Thanks! As for AF...like Amy sez: no, no, no. I used to use the AF points as the car went by as a guide while I focused manually, but the fastest lenses I found just couldn't keep up: tracking is important, and if you keep the car in the viewfinder for a long time the lens will grab that focus early, and usually miss-adjust as the car goes by. You get good at it, and you may find it easier - I did, even at big apertures. If you do use AI/servro, take care to build a little more lag into your shutter - the camera will probably do a little last-minute math, and remember that at 225 miles per hour a car travels a little under a hundred yards per second.

Can and pipe karts at 45/55? Not so much...but they do scoot.

Also, I revisited the web site of Jerry's friend - the guy really does do great work (he's a consumate location scout as well) - and then went to indycar.com, champcar.com, nascar.com, and some others. Things change I guess - that faster shutter seems to sell better these days. If he put up a shot his way and I put up a shot my way, his would probably get bought. No matter how much I like panning blur, if you're going to sell your stuff you absolutely must capture what the customer wants. There's a reason he's got 12-14 year old shots and brand new shots on his site, and mine stop in about 1998/1999 and live in a box in my attic - he gets paid, I ceased making money. I could have learned from him, huh? I listened to the Artistes, and should have been listening to the all-business types.

Also note his timing - always from the front, sometimes broaddside but never from the back. I shot Jim Hall's sponsor brochure when he had Gil de Ferran driving, and he was crystal-clear: "no ass-end shots. They're stupid." Jim was always so easy to understand.

Still - that insane blur is the best thing to put on the wall! Way more artistic, especially when they run in the wet. And don't worry about twisting and unequal blur, either: nice, linear streaking is lovely, but this shot of Villevueve I put up is anything but smooth - it looks active, shaky, alive, and technically he wasn't even going that fast. Mix it up. So long as you keep that center focus dot on target (the hardest part of all) and stay relaxed, you should get a nice sharp center.
 

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30D + 70-200 f/2.8L IS was tracking in AI servo mode perfectly with bikes doing 70-90 past me in a fast corner.
 

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AI/Servo, manual, guesswork - point taken: your results may vary, and whatever works, works. After a few thousand shots, I found I was full manual all the time.

I found an old Kodak picture CD of my stuff -

http://www.flickr.com/photos/25301144@N02/sets/72157604460371687/

These were shot in 1995, when I was assigned to the Indycar World Series. Brings back memories. They were all taken with a Canon EOS 1N and either a 28-70 f/2.8L (which I still shoot with my 40D), a 70-200 f/2.8L, or a rented superduperzoom like the 300 - 600MM bazookas. Although I don't recall it, I seem to have used a lot faster shutter that I let on...
 

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AI/Servo, manual, guesswork - point taken: your results may vary, and whatever works, works. After a few thousand shots, I found I was full manual all the time.

The nice thing though is as the newer bodies are released, we're seeing faster and faster AF speeds and more accurate AF systems themselves. The 70-200L's are a very fast focusing lens. I'm attributing that to most of my success of the few panning shots I was doing.
 

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You know VI, I was thinking about this, too: I never considered that part of my issue was both slower AF AND old-school shutter lag. The 1N was a rocket, buuuuut it wasn't like modern digitals. This 40D stuns me, it's so quick. I wonder...
 

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I think CanonSnob is right, if you look closely at the front of the kart, it looks like vertical blur which could be caused by you rotating the camera slightly when panning. Anyway, I think your shot is very good.
 

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You know VI, I was thinking about this, too: I never considered that part of my issue was both slower AF AND old-school shutter lag. The 1N was a rocket, buuuuut it wasn't like modern digitals. This 40D stuns me, it's so quick. I wonder...

With the AI servo on my camera/lens combo, it was focusing between shots a 1/100 of a second. You would have to use something like Canon's USM lenses. The 70-200 2.8 IS I was using is one of Canon's fastest focusing lenses. If you're trying to use the 70-300 or 75-300, then it would be completely understandable as to why you hated trying to track and shoot with AF.

The reason a lot of them were trash was mainly because my shutter speed was way too slow for as fast as they were moving through the corner. I could have probably doubled the shutter speed and got more consistent results.

2355865302_45eec48ba0.jpg
 

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That's a really pretty shot - and it uses one of the best positioning rules in panning for motorsports: shoot from the inside of the corner, near the apex. WAY easier to pan because the distance to the subject stays relatively constant. If you want that "uberblur" thing, this is the best way to get it. Nice bright shot, VI!

Back to use of blur to fix a background: this is the shot I was talking about, with plastic blue toilets in the background as well as a lot of other icky stuff:

2401581768_4e810004b9_b.jpg


The busy background is completely unavoidable from this angle, but the light was great, and I didn't have time to get to a better corner before the session, so the heavy blur made the shot more useable.
 

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That's a really pretty shot - and it uses one of the best positioning rules in panning for motorsports: shoot from the inside of the corner, near the apex. WAY easier to pan because the distance to the subject stays relatively constant. If you want that "uberblur" thing, this is the best way to get it. Nice bright shot, VI!

That's why I absolutely love my local road course. Even when there's big events like the AMA races, spectating is still possible from the same spots in the infield as any other normal track day.
 
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Went out to the track the other day and took some shots between sessions. These guys moved a lot faster than the karts I was shooting last time.

Round Two:
2432318628_d6d47f3b4d_o.jpg


This photo had the same issue as my karting ones, but not near as bad.
2431504791_cb62a1bf47_o.jpg
 

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Those bike shots are amazing! Nice job! The bikes are sharp and crisp from front to back! The 2nd one is really excellent, I love the angle!

Actually this thread inspired me a bit, I stopped by a small local flying club where you can get close to the runway, I and I got this:

2426291501_79308fea04_b.jpg


I wish I could have got more of the pilot, and also a blue sky would have been nice, it was totally overcast that day.
 

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