First, I should say this post will have all dSLR shots, but it is still good info IMO. As part of doing some exercises suggested by David duChemin in “The Visual Toolbox: 60 Lessons for Stronger Photographs (Voices That Matter)”, I decided to do some pan-n-shoot while I was at the Barrett-Jackson Northeast inaugural collector car auction. This was a three-day, car nut extravaganza and was really worth the entry price (at least for me).
I found a great place to practice this technique: along the access road between where the auction cars had their final prep and shine, and where the cars enter the arena for the actual auction. There was a general admission walkway that the security folks were directing people towards. I found a quiet place where no security were standing and I was behind a guardrail, so there was little chance of impeding the flow of traffic. As a bonus, it was in the shade.
If you are not familiar with the technique, basically you shoot a moving object with a shutter speed that allows you to keep your subject in focus, and you follow the speed of the moving object with the motion of your camera/body such that the background will tend to blur out. It is not an easy technique to master but with some practice, I found myself getting better with each shot.
First, I used duChemin’s advice of turning my body towards where I wanted the shots to end up. So say your subject is moving left to right I would face my hips and body towards the right and twist to start following the subject and unwind as the subject goes by. If you ever watch automobile racing, you will sometimes seem professional photographers doing this. But it certainly is not restricted to automobiles, you can do this with people walking, sporting events or nature photography.
The hardest part I found is matching the shutter speed with the movement speed of your subject. In my case, the cars were generally going at low speeds (~15-25mph), but had a fair amount of variance due to pedestrians or all the golf carts driving around. This first day, I never really got this shutter speed correct.
Another technique I didn’t really figure out till halfway through the second day, was to use the camera’s little red focus area in the center to follow the subject. So maybe I start focusing on the car’s front left headlight as it goes left to right–as the car goes by and I take a shot, I needed to keep that focus area on the same general part of the car.
I shot most of these with shutter priority, so another thing I needed to keep better track of is the ISO so that the aperture would keep much of my subject in ‘general’ focus. The low depth of field detracts from a few of the shots, at least compared to what I wanted to achieve. They still look pretty ok.
On to the photos, you can find more info about some of the cars on my flickr, https://flic.kr/s/aHskCV55gm. I did not upload all of these to flickr, but am sharing them here, good or bad.