Monthly Archives: July 2009

Pans and Swipes

One of the image techniques I enjoy the most is moving the camera while shooting with slow shutter speeds. Typically one would use a pan when trying to track a subject moving relatively fast against a stationary background. This is often used with sports photography and blurs the background (creating a sense of speed) while keeping the subject relatively sharp.

Alternatively panned or swiped images cab be used to create an impressionistic effect. The emphasis becomes the color or basic forms in the image – there is no sharp detail. This technique is very freeing at times and allows the photographer to express their impression of a scene without getting caught up in all the detail. Not sure who the first photographer was to do this on purpose;-) but I know Freeman Patterson talked about it early on; Tony Sweet taught me the technique while William Neil has created an entire body of work based on this technique, “Impressions of Light”.

Both the term pan and swipe get used when talking about camera movement techniques. Coming up with the right shutter speed and camera movement for a particular scene can be where the fun and skill come into play. You can go with a long shutter speed (1-2sec) and just pan back in forth (or up and down) or you can go with a shorter speeds (1/2-1/4 sec) and move in a pattern (swipes): circles, arches, diagonals, waves, etc.

A couple of hints:

1) Experiment a lot. This will give you a sense of what works with what. Have fun.
2) For a simple start try a 1/2 sec shutter speed on a grove of tree and pan up and down. Try shorter and longer speeds, slower and fast camera movement, longer and shorter movements.
3) If there are strong lines in the image – work with those by moving with them (up and down for a tree).

4) As always, you still need good subjects and composition.

A few examples are shown here in the blog.
The lead image is a forest with yellow flowers that has been panned up and down for around 1 second.
The second image shows a bed of roses shot with a circular motion (1/3 second). I choose a circle in keeping with the roses. The diagonal line of the roses gives even more excitement to the image.
The third image is a flower bed swiped downward (1/3 sec). Notice the use of thirds in the composition.
The forth image is swipe of tulip beds (1/2 sec) following the diagonal line of the beds.

And the fifth images shows a cup swipe of another rose bed (1/5 sec).

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Lavender Farm

It is lavender festival time in Oregon and I have been so busy at work that I haven’t been able to get out and catch one of the farms. Yesterday on my way from work I was able to swing by one nearby. While the conditions were not optimal (sunny not cloudy), there was a large tree shading some of the lavender. I have included a couple shots from there. This first image uses an Orton filter technique and the later is a 9 image multi-exposure while panning back and forth.
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Do the Lensbaby Push

Using a Lensbaby can be a lot of fun. They are especially great when it comes to flower photography. I had been planning to add the macro kit attachments to my assortment of tools (or toys if you wish), but then I learned about the push. Normally with a lensbaby 2 or 3G you are pulling in on the edges and tilting the lens for the desired effect. But you can’t get real close to the subject. If instead you use your fingers to “push” the lens out and extend the corragated tube you can get closer and get a real shallow depth of field . With my 3G I push it to near maximum externsion and then lock it there. The images here in my blog were all shot that way.

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Know your Imaging Software

I have been off the blog for a while. My other job has been keeping me busy, but I did get to meet one of my favorite photographers this past week. It is a bit of a long story but I was able to arrange for Tony Sweet to come by and make a presentation to several of the local photography clubs here in the Portland Oregon area (in cooperation with Lensbaby). The first blog image is of Tony and I at the event. I did get to talk to him and bit and learn more about the state of the photography business – that was good.

At his presentation Tony emphasized that professional photography today is at least 50%-60% about having some understanding of the image software available to us and being able to apply it. Tony chooses to use a variety Photoshop plugins because they are powerful and often very easy to use. Ideally we experiment and play with the software tools enough that when we are in the field shooting we can previsualize the image with particular post processing applied.
In keeping with this, I have included an image I previsualized. I ran across this building in Astoria Oregon this past weekend. I knew what I wanted to do with the image when I got home. There were multiple ways to do it, but I choose to take full advantage of Lightroom’s capabilities – reduced clarity, added saturation and a vignette. I think it came out pretty “sweet”.

By the way Tony and Susan are very nice people should you get the chance to meet them or take a class through or one of their many workshops.
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