Canon EOS 60D, A Sense of Motion

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When photographing a moving subject, you might not always want to freeze everything in its tracks—sometimes you’ll want to convey to the viewer the sense of movement in the image. Two techniques you can use to achieve this effect are panning and motion blur.

PANNING

One of the most common ways to portray motion in an image is by panning. Panning is the process of using a slower-than-usual shutter speed while following your subject across the frame, moving your camera along with it. This technique adds motion blur to the background. The key here is a slow shutter speed, but the exact shutter speed you use depends on the speed of the subject. Choose a shutter speed that is slow enough to capture motion in the background but fast enough to allow you to capture your subject with little or no blur. You also want to follow through with your camera until you are sure that your shutter is closed and you’ve completed the shot. You can further maintain the sharpness of the subject by using a flash source (such as the built-in flash on your 60D) to freeze the subject (Figure 6.12).

Using a separate light source can help to prevent blurring your panning subject. In this photo, I used an off-camera strobe to keep the biker tack-sharp.
FIGURE 6.12 Using a separate light source can help to prevent blurring your panning subject. In this photo, I used an off-camera strobe to keep the biker tack-sharp.

Panning photography often involves a lot of trial and error until you get the perfect combination of shutter speed and camera movement. The beauty of digital photography is that we get instant feedback and can keep tweaking our settings until we have them set just right for the image we want to create.

MOTION BLUR

Another way to let the viewer in on the feel of the action is to include some blur in the image. This blur is less refined than it is in a panning shot, and there’s no specific or correct composition, colors, or way to move your camera to get a desirable effect. Sometimes you might even achieve this effect by mistake. In Figure 6.13, I was attempting to create some panning shots while photographing a scrimmage of local roller derby players. During the shot a few of the players fell down, which added a lot of blur within the photo that I wasn’t expecting. The shot I ended up with was very colorful and creative and turned out to be my favorite image of the day.

Adding blur to your images can be a fun and creative way to imply a sense of motion in the scene.
FIGURE 6.13 Adding blur to your images can be a fun and creative way to imply a sense of motion in the scene.

As with a panning shot, there is no set shutter speed and aperture combo that you can use every time for this effect. It may take a lot of trial and error to get the outcome you want, but in my opinion, that challenge makes it all the more fun and is a great reason to give it a try.

ZOOM IN TO BE SURE

When reviewing your shots on the LCD Monitor, don’t be fooled by the display. The smaller your image is, the sharper it will look. To ensure that you are getting sharp, blur-free images, make sure that you zoom in on your LCD Monitor.

To zoom in on your images, press the Playback button located on the back of the camera, and then press the Magnify button to zoom (Figure 6.14). Continue pressing the Magnify button to increase the zoom ratio.

You can also use the Multi-Controller to check focus and scroll around to different areas of the frame while zoomed in.

To zoom out, simply press the Reduce button (the magnifying glass with the minus sign on it) or press the Playback button again.

The Magnify button is a useful tool to check for proper focus while reviewing your images.
FIGURE 6.14 The Magnify button is a useful tool to check for proper focus while reviewing your images.