Tutorial Guide to Panning in Motorsports

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#1
Apex Photography submitted a new resource:

Guide to Panning - The guide is based on motorsport but the same tips apply for panning of any moving subject

The guide is based on motorsport but the same tips apply for panning of any moving subject. It starts off with an introduction to panning and instructions on how to get started. It also includes techniques on how to get more of your pans in focus.
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Sue
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#2
Great article! Can I add that you need to take the surface into account when panning as well? With tarmac you can go much slower than off-road. I do a lot of motorcycle grasstrack photography and with the very rough surface rarely bother to go below 1/125 as the hit rate become tiny as the bikes bounce up and down.

(Apologies for the logo, this is the only copy on my iPad).

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Great article! Can I add that you need to take the surface into account when panning as well? With tarmac you can go much slower than off-road. I do a lot of motorcycle grasstrack photography and with the very rough surface rarely bother to go below 1/125 as the hit rate become tiny as the bikes bounce up and down.

(Apologies for the logo, this is the only copy on my iPad).

View attachment 146561
Thanks, I'm glad you like the article :) Good point, I'll add that in. I've mostly done photography on tarmac, so didn't think about offroad.
 
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Rob Telford
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Good advice there about tracking a particular spot on the vehicle such as the driver's helmet or a sponsor logo.

I take quite a lot of photographs of buses on the move and it becomes critical when you have such a large object moving in the frame, often with a wider lens than I suspect you are using.

You are never going to get the entirety of the vehicle sharp as parallax movement occurs around the node you are following, so you have to be careful to choose the spot well - not always so simple with a 28mm or 50mm at fairly close quarters.

I don't make things easier for myself by using manual focus lenses, either, but it does put paid to the myth that they are only good for static subjects :)

28mm@1/50th, 50mm@1/30th and 50mm@1/15th sec respectively


London United LT137
by Rob Telford, on Flickr


Stagecoach LT379
by Rob Telford, on Flickr


Arriva London LT496
by Rob Telford, on Flickr
 
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Simon Everett
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What is this myth that manual focus can't be used for action - how do you think we went on before autofocus was invented? We only had 36 shots before having to reload too....
 
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#9
What is this myth that manual focus can't be used for action - how do you think we went on before autofocus was invented? We only had 36 shots before having to reload too....
Absolutely, but I have seen it asserted often enough (there was a discussion i think on DPReview a few days previously about the pros/cons of Zeiss Loxia vs Batis lenses that may have set me off on this particular occasion).

I used only MF SLRs from 1978 to 2004, took about seven years to work out I don’t get on well with AF and went back to manual focus for 99.9% of what I do.
 
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Absolutely, but I have seen it asserted often enough (there was a discussion i think on DPReview a few days previously about the pros/cons of Zeiss Loxia vs Batis lenses that may have set me off on this particular occasion).

I used only MF SLRs from 1978 to 2004, took about seven years to work out I don’t get on well with AF and went back to manual focus for 99.9% of what I do.
In truth, like everyone else, you didn't have any choice! :giggle:
 
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What is this myth that manual focus can't be used for action - how do you think we went on before autofocus was invented? We only had 36 shots before having to reload too....
I've never tried using manual focus for motorsports, wouldn't the hit rate be lower using manual focus though?
 
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Richard
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#12
I've never tried using manual focus for motorsports, wouldn't the hit rate be lower using manual focus though?
Some people use manual focus for panning shots. I.e you prefocus on the area of the track you want to take your shot, and then you only have to worry about your panning technique when you're shooting. I know Jamey Price shoots his panning shots like this. Not something I've ever done myself, it's whatever works for you. Like every man and his dog sings the praises of back button focus but I just cannot get on with using that for motorsport work.
 
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Some people use manual focus for panning shots. I.e you prefocus on the area of the track you want to take your shot, and then you only have to worry about your panning technique when you're shooting. I know Jamey Price shoots his panning shots like this. Not something I've ever done myself, it's whatever works for you. Like every man and his dog sings the praises of back button focus but I just cannot get on with using that for motorsport work.
Thats interesting, I've heard about people doing it but never done it myself. I'm a big fan of Jamey Price, so I might give it a try next time I go out shooting. I've only started trying back button focusing in the past month and noticed that it helps me a lot with my panning, in particular after taking the first shot, the focusing is a lot faster. I pretty much swear by back button focusing now :)
 
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Some people use manual focus for panning shots. I.e you prefocus on the area of the track you want to take your shot, and then you only have to worry about your panning technique when you're shooting. I know Jamey Price shoots his panning shots like this. Not something I've ever done myself, it's whatever works for you. Like every man and his dog sings the praises of back button focus but I just cannot get on with using that for motorsport work.
Since your here Richard one question I wanted to ask you about was Circular Polarizing filters. Is it a good idea to use them for motorsports? I read somewhere that you can get strange reflections on the windscreen with racing cars by using them. Is that right?
 
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Since your here Richard one question I wanted to ask you about was Circular Polarizing filters. Is it a good idea to use them for motorsports? I read somewhere that you can get strange reflections on the windscreen with racing cars by using them. Is that right?
I don't own one personally but they have their uses. They're good for paddock work and for wider shots where you're including a lot of blue sky. It's something I want to buy at some point but I wouldn't use one all the time. They also cost you 1/2 to a full stop of light so they can limit your ability to use higher shutter speeds when you want to.
 
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Simon Everett
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#16
I've never tried using manual focus for motorsports, wouldn't the hit rate be lower using manual focus though?
For someone who has only ever known autofocus, perhaps. If you had grown up shooting motorsport with 500f4 and 300f2.8 lenses, polarised and a film speed of 50 (Fuji Velvia), so polarised that is ISO 12, and manual focus you wouldn't do so bad. You can't go shotgunning your way through life though, you had to see the shot, then take it. You looked at the light, so you would shoot a particular corner at a certain time of day, depending on what you were after. In first practise, you got your safe shots, then in second practise you could become more artistic, and final practise was when you tried for something special. Panning on the inside of a corner with the bikes come AT you, for instance, as opposed to traversing past you in a constant arc, then you had to follow focus while you tripped the shutter. If you didn't adjust focus during the exposure, it didn't work.
 
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For someone who has only ever known autofocus, perhaps. If you had grown up shooting motorsport with 500f4 and 300f2.8 lenses, polarised and a film speed of 50 (Fuji Velvia), so polarised that is ISO 12, and manual focus you wouldn't do so bad. You can't go shotgunning your way through life though, you had to see the shot, then take it. You looked at the light, so you would shoot a particular corner at a certain time of day, depending on what you were after. In first practise, you got your safe shots, then in second practise you could become more artistic, and final practise was when you tried for something special. Panning on the inside of a corner with the bikes come AT you, for instance, as opposed to traversing past you in a constant arc, then you had to follow focus while you tripped the shutter. If you didn't adjust focus during the exposure, it didn't work.
Yeah your right, I'm 25 years old so have only ever known auto focus, I rarely use manual focus for photography.
 
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