Monday, June 29, 2015

SPECIAL EFFECTS: PANNING

On the basis of a tip, I decided to try a technique for creating landscape abstractions.  It worked!  At least to my tastes.  This technique involves employing a relatively slow shutter speed combined with a panning of the camera.  I began goofing around with it for some interior shots, with limited success.  However, a few days ago we were blessed with a foggy morning and I grabbed my camera to get some landscape shots in the patchy dense fog.

One thing I had realized in the experimenting I had done previously: I need to pan in the same general direction as the orientation of the preponderance of the objects being photographed.  If the objects are horizontal, then the pan should be horizontal.  If vertical, then the pan should be vertical.  Otherwise, the image is likely to come out as a blurry mess.  It is also important that there be a significant amount of contrast in the shot, again in the direction of the pan.  In addition, the exposure time and amount of panning are important.  If the exposure is too slow or the pan too fast, again the image can wind up too abstract.  On the other hand, an exposure that is too fast or a pan that is too slow can result in a shot that looks like the result of simple camera shake.  For this kind of shot depth of field is not nearly as important as shutter speed and panning.  Finally, be prepared to waste a lot of shots figuring out what is working.

OK, so here are a few of the shots that I got.  The first few were of a small stand of trees in our subdivision that are positioned against a wetlands area.  This first was a 1/4 second exposure at f/9.


It's evident that my panning was not "linear" in this shot.  I think, too, that the shot is a little too abstract.  The next couple of shots were also at f/9 but at faster shutter speeds of 1/5 and 1/6 second respectively.



At least now it is clear that these are trees.  And here is one final example of a different stand of trees posed against a darker background.


This was taken at f/4 for 1/8 second, and it is apparent that this shot is even less abstract than the others.

Although the length of the exposure is important in these shots, the speed of the panning is also a factor.  But it is difficult to quantify that factor, and that is why it is best simply to play around with this technique to see what works and what doesn't.  Just be prepared to delete most of your shots to get the few that seem to be working.  I certainly intend to play around more with this technique, including trying some panning that is intentionally nonlinear.

One final shot that I took during the same session and converted to black & white, this time without panning, if only for comparison.


John

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