Digital Photography Motion In the Arena and On the Track

The Photoshop and photography Guru Scott Kelby once proclaimed something along the lines of “if you want to be a great sports photographer, the first thing you need is a really big wallet!”  And, he’s right on the money.

One of the most challenging aspects of shooting action photography in an outdoor arena is the time right between sunset and when the arena lights kick it up to full power.  Maybe you’ve had this happen before, you go to take your prize-winning photo, you line up the shot, press the shutter release, and click.  You check out your amazing photo on the display on the back of the camera and, “What in the world?”  Or something similar…  Nothing but blur!  Might as well put your camera up for the rest of the event, right?  Wrong.

Now, you’ve found the perfect time for panning.  Not for gold, but for that perfect action shot.  Here’s the concept…  The photographer is at a fixed point where he/she/it can take a picture with the subject, car/horse/ whatever is passing at pretty much the same distance from the photographer.  You have you magic focus ring manually adjusted for the approximate area you want to shoot, and the subject passes, as you press the shutter, you turn and keep the subject in the approximately same location in the frame as your shutter slowly opens and closes.  What this does, with enough practice, is allows you, the photographer, to keep the subject in focus while blurring the background scenery adding for some interesting motion effect.  So, how does it look?

Well, let’s look at what kind of picture led you to try this effect in the first place…

 

Digital Photography Time for panning

Now, here’s how it comes out with a little panning practice…

Digital Photography Time for panning 2

Remember, just because you don’t have the most expensive equipment, or the best equipment in the world, doesn’t mean you can’t have interesting photos.

A final word of caution, this technique takes some serious practice to develop, and I’ve still got a long way to go, so don’t get frustrated, and remember, they’re digital shots, so you can afford to experiment.

Good luck.

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6 comments


  1. That is a great effect that thoutgh it was impossible to do!
    Thanks Dewayne!

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  2. Kevin Bettencourt

    Digital photography in the long run has really reduced the costs by deleting rather than wasting film. Practicing panning to reduce blur with reduced light and a lot of motion will be tricky but practice will give you great action shots sooner or later.

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  3. Dewayne, thanks for sharing this expert photo tip. Your ability to share with people how to take pictures better is awesome.
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  4. Clare Delaney

    Digital has definitely allowed us all to experiment a whole lot more – thanks Dewayne for the info on panning.

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  5. Thats some information I’m sure a lot of people out there can use, like me. I have to take quite a few pictures almost every day and blur is a huge factor.

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  6. Well Dewayne ……….. I am quite prepared to spend hours , watching the girls , and perfecting my panning technique’s . Ain’t life grand .

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