Photographing Movement: Panning with different shutter speeds

Exercise: Panning with different shutter speeds 

The object of this exercise was to pan (follow the moving subject with the camera) at gradually lengthening shutter speeds. The effect of this is initially, with a fast shutter speed, to freeze the subject and background. As the shutter speed becomes longer, the background begins to blur more and more due to the swing movement of the camera whilst the subject remains, ideally, held frozen (although in the case of the cyclists there will inevitably be additional blur from the moving parts, such as the cyclists legs and the wheels.)

1/1000 

At 1000th of a second the pan freezes almost everything dead. 

1/400 

Here we can start to see blurring of the background although the cyclist is still pretty much frozen. There is blurring of the spokes though, as would be expected. although in itself this image isn't bad, it doesn't really demonstrate the panning effect particularly well.

1/200

Here we can see a little more blurring of the background and foreground due to the panning camera. The cyclist remains sharply in focus , although there is now more blurring of the spokes and feet.

1/160 Focus in focus!

I'm quite pleased with this one as there is nice blurring of the scenery but the cyclist is held quite sharply in focus. (Note the appropriately named brand of the bike!) There is nice blurring of the feet and wheels. 

1/100

Nicely juxtaposed runner in this one! 

1/80 

This one came out quite well. The wheels are nicely blurred, as is the scenery, but the cyclist himself is  sharp. 

1/60 

It was starting to get difficult to hold the pan at the correct speed now, particularly as the panning movement itself starts slowly, accelerates as the subject moves in front of the camera, and then slows again as they move away. A sort of optical Doppler effect.!

1/40 

This cyclist now appears to be moving very fast compared to some of the earlier ones; an illusion created by the panning effect. 

1/30 

This image shows the panning effect increased by the car moving in the opposite direction. 

1/20 

At this shutter speed it was as much luck as judgement to keep the 'non-moving parts' of the cyclist, such as the head and arms, reasonably sharp! Noticeably the cycle's brand is still legible.

1/15 

It took several attempts at this shutter speed to get an image where the subject was reasonably sharp. Often I would pan too quickly or slowly, blurring the subject too much. 

1/2 

My attempts at panning at a shutter speed longer than 1/15th sec were becoming slightly futile (plus I had to add a filter to the lens as, at this slow speed, the aperture was already stopped right down to its smallest setting.) This was probably the best of a bad bunch!