Panning for gold – my attempt at photographing a moving subject

If ifs and ands were pots and pans there’d be no work for tinkers.

~ Proverb

This is a cool effect, but my boy is exhausted from riding his bike up and down the street.  Of 100+ pictures, this one was one of the best.  It’s not perfect, but not bad if I do say so myself.  This is a great way to capture cars, runners or sporting events, keeping the object in focus and motion blur in the background.

Here are some general tips that might help if you are interested in trying it out:

  • Change the focus mode to AI Servo.  AI stands for Artificial Intelligence.  It is designed to follow a moving subject to keep it in focus.
  • Change the shooting mode to Continuous.

  • My aperture was f/10 and my shutter speed was 1/80.  I should have gone a bit slower, probably around 1/60.  Slower shutter speeds will create more motion blur, but it gets harder to keep the subject in focus.  If you are photographing a fast moving object (not to say that my boy doesn’t peddle fast), you can notch up the shutter speed.  Trying to get a similar photo of my little one on her trike might take a shutter speed of about ½ second.
  • When you select a moving object, I try to keep a few things in mind.  It’s easier to follow something on a predictable path, like my boy on the bike. You need to be perpendicular to the subject so that he crosses your path.  It also works better if there is a bit of distance between the subject and the background.
  • Use a single focus point.  Before the subject passes you at 90 degrees, start focusing, keeping the focus point on the subject.  I think of it as being a human tripod.  I started to the right and in a fluid motion, followed him through my viewfinder has he passed through the scene, keeping the shutter depressed to let the continuous mode fire as many shots as it can (mine tops out at 10).

This is one of those crazy techniques that just takes practice – and a willing subject.

My boy really is the best.


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