Here are six simple techniques that
every photographer should know identified by
a subject means to follow it as it moves across a scene, with the aim of
capturing it sharply. More often than not the intention is to leave the
background blurred, providing a contrast with the sharp subject, and this is
the method described below.
a useful technique to learn if you practice any kind of wildlife or sports
photography, but it can be used to great effect in street photography and for
any other type of action.
successfully involves a number of components. The first is to follow the
subject throughout the duration of the pan so that it stays sharp. Knowing
where to start and stop the pan is key; too soon and you may find it hard to
keep up with a subject, too late and you won’t get the effect you want.
other key part is learning the right shutter speed to use. Too long a shutter
speed will make it difficult to successfully keep up with the subject
throughout, while selecting a shutter speed that’s too short won’t give you
enough time to blur the background sufficiently.
most pans you want to use a shutter speed of at least 1/40sec but potentially
as long as a second or more, although you will only know through experimenting.
right speed depends on how fast the subject is moving and how far away it is
from you; a particularly long pan can look great when the background is
completely blurred, but it’s more difficult to achieve so start off with a
your camera or lens has image stabilisation, make sure to set it to the mode
which is designed for panning, usually the secondary option. This disables
stabilisation across one axis so that it only tries to compensate for motion
along the axis you require.
way you stand also affects your movement; stand with your legs spaced wide
apart and try to move your knees and upper body (rather than just your arms) to
keep the pan as smooth as possible.
make sure to start panning before you press the shutter release button so that you
start off smoothly, and carry on for a brief moment afterwards to ensure your
end is smooth. You may also find a monopod helps you to keep steady.
your subject gradually occupies more or less of the frame as you pan, such as
if it is approaching you from a sharp angle, you may struggle to get a sharp
result. You’ll have a much better chance of success if the distance between you
and the subject is kept as constant as possible, so that you’re capturing it as
perpendicularly as possible to its direction of travel.
have a focus-peaking function at your disposal. This is a useful tool to use
when manually focusing to ensure you capture your subject as sharply as
possible, and it’s available on many compact system cameras and enthusiast
compacts (and some DSLRs).
to do it
and enable focus peaking through your menu system. Now point the camera at your
subject and turn the focusing ring until it starts to appear in focus. As this
happens, a white or coloured highlight should appear over the areas that are
highlight covers your subject as fully as possible (you may want to go past
this point and back to see exactly where the highlight shows the most) and
capture the image.
display or an electronic viewfinder, although the former may allow you to do
this more accurately. For static subjects, such as still-life shots and most
macro subjects, you may also want to use a tripod if possible for maximum
gives you a number of different exposures of the same subject, leaving you to
decide which is best once you’ve captured them. It’s a useful tool to use when
lighting conditions prove to be problematic for your camera’s metering system,
such as when shooting reflective subjects, or whenever illumination is
constantly changing. This is available on all DSLRs and the vast majority of
mirrorless cameras, as well as on many compacts.
the ‘AE BKT’ or ‘BKT’ option on your camera, or alternatively the icon with
three differently shaded rectangles (if you can’t find this on your camera’s
body it’ll be in your menu system).
this is enabled you should have the option of changing the exposure for the
different frames, so that you either get images with slight exposure
differences or more severe shifts. Start off by adjusting this so that your
exposures vary by 1EV each way before capturing your images.
may need to release your shutter three times, or the camera may do this
automatically once you take the first shot – either way, you should end up with
three images captured at different exposures. If you want a more subtle effect,
change the extent of shift for each frame to something smaller than 1EV, such
bursts have become somewhat less fashionable in recent years, with the easy
application of Photoshop’s Motion Blur filter making the effect commonplace,
although with the right subject and technique you can get some striking and
unique results in camera.
a camera with a lens that can be manually (physically) zoomed, set your camera
on a tripod and frame your subject at a wide focal length. Remember this focal
length and set your exposure in either the manual exposure mode or shutter
priority mode so that your shutter speed is around 1/2sec.
may need to adjust your sensitivity or aperture to achieve this, but don’t
worry about getting this exact figure as they’ll be some trial and error to
determine the right shutter speed for your shot.
zoom into the scene and with one hand on the shutter release button and the
other on the zoom ring, trigger the exposure while moving the zoom ring back to
the first focal length you noted.
will take practice to understand the appropriate length for your exposure and
how fast to zoom, so don’t be disheartened if it doesn’t come out right on your
first few attempts. Keep trying until it looks right, adjusting your shutter
speed and the direction in which you zoom to see what works best.
maximum effect, make sure your camera is completely stable on the tripod and
try to only move the zoom ring during the exposure rather than disturbing the
camera in any way. You could also use a cable release to keep the camera more
stable during the exposure, but you can still get great results without one.
your name to an image you take is something many photographers do for the sake
of security, and once you’ve set this up in camera you don’t need to worry
about it – it will automatically be embedded in every shot you take. What’s
more, it couldn’t be easier.
the option to input copyright information, or image comment, in your camera’s
menu system. This is usually found in a camera’s Setup menu, although you may
need to switch your camera to its manual exposure setting for it to appear.
enter your name, and perhaps even the year (remembering to change this each
year), and either the copyright symbol or the word ‘copyright’ if the symbol is
not available. For a bonus marketing point, you may even wish to add your
website if there is space.
a tripod properly appears fairly straightforward, but there are a handful of
best-practice guidelines that many photographers often forget. The following
will make sure you’re as stable as possible.
the camera off the tripod, spread each leg until they extend to the same angle.
Now release the top section on each leg, closest to the head, extend them fully
and lock. Repeat the process downwards until you have the height you require.
extend the lower sections first as these are the least stable and only extend
the centre column (assuming your tripod allows you to do this) once every leg
section has been extended.
the camera on the tripod’s quick-release plate as the arrow underneath the
plate instructs and place it on the head so that at least one bubble level
make sure all bubble levels on the head and legs (if provided) are level. If
you need to adjust the tripod while you shoot, adjust the legs first and keep
your eye on the bubble level and only extend the centre column as a last
resort. Use a remote release or the self timer mode for extra sharpness and if
shooting on softer surfaces, such as grass, see if the feet contain spikes,
which will help lock the tripod in position.