Thursday, March 5, 2009

Soccer at Chelsea Piers

I was at Chelsea Piers the other night and took the opportunity to practice my panning technique. My panning technique is mediocre, so every bit of practice is helpful.

Panning is just what it sounds like. Essentially, you pan your camera along with a moving subject. The aim is capture a relatively in focus subject, but with a blurred background. This technique generates an image that has a feeling of movement and speed. Panning is used extensively in sports photography.

The first thing I suggest you do is set a shutter speed of 1/60 second or slower. If you use a fast shutter speed like 1/1600 second, there will likely be very little blur in the background. Keep in mind that the slower the shutter speed, the more blur you will have and the more difficult it will be to keep the subject in focus.

As the moving subject approaches, focus on the subject and try to track it with your camera as smoothly as possible. As you pan the moving subject, press the shutter button and fire off several shots. Even after you release the shutter, keep panning the subject for a moment so that the background blur remains smooth.

I used the panning technique to take some pictures of an indoor soccer match. Most of the players' bodies will be blurred because of the flailing arms and legs. Here are two pictures. Notice how their heads are relatively in focus, but everything else is blurred. The first picture was taken at 1/30 second. The second picture was taken at 1/15 second. It easy to see from these two examples that the slower you make your shutter speed, the more blurry your background will be. At the bottom of the post, I've included further details of the specs of these images.

(1) Canon 5D, 24-70mm f/2.8L @ 70mm, 1/30 sec., f/4.0, ISO 1600.

(2) Canon 5D, 24-70mm f/2.8L @ 38mm, 1/15 sec., f/3.2, ISO 200.

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