Exercise – Panning With Different Shutter Speeds

The aim of this exercise was to practice panning to track a moving subject, and compare results when doing so using different shutter speeds. In this case, the subject is a girl riding a bicycle. I tried to capture the photographic instant at about the same point in the subjects’ position relative to the camera and background, so as to make easier comparisons.


Photo 1 – 1/200th second



At this shutter speed, motion is practically frozen, except for maybe in the spokes of the bike.


Photo 2 – 1/100th second



Motion in the spokes now a little more blurred, as parts of the riders’ body, the feet particularly. Still able to keep a decent track of the subject.


Photo 3 – 1/50th second



Spokes much more blurred, motion of the rider now more obvious, as is the background pavement.


Photo 4 – 1/25th second



A good sense of the speed of the subject is gained in this image. Tracking was still easily maintained.


Photo 5 – 1/10 second



Background elements now indistinctly blurred, and every part of the image suggests a subject in full motion.


Photo 6 – 1/2 second



It now became somewhat harder to keep a track of the subject long enough for the long shutter speed to maintain an accurate register of the subject in motion.


Photo 7 – 1 second



I considered this 1 second exposure to be at the limit of being able to track the subject and still retain enough detail and information as to be identifiable. Timing was also an issue, the subject moved rapidly enough that deciding when to click the shutter became increasingly difficult and several attempts had to be made.


I think the use or absence of motion blur in an image is entirely subjective. That is, whether it is  successful as an image in terms of its’ aesthetic quality depends on the intended purpose of the photo and the expectations of the image viewer. In the case of the exercises above I find that for the water spray, freezing the droplets enough presents a more interesting image purely for the fact that it’s a sight uncommonly seen. Water droplets don’t spend much time hanging around in mid-air to allow a viewer a chance to observe their quality. Whereas for the girl on the bike, a sense of speed isolates the subject from the background, and lends a somewhat warmer quality to the image in general, despite the conditions on that particular day being cold and overcast. So, the two photos I would choose for the preferred qualities mentioned above are:






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