More Creative Panning

As I mentioned in a previous post railroadforums.com‘s advanced topics challenge this month is ‘creative panning’.  To create a contest entry I shot quite a few photos through the month of June.   I ended up with about a half dozen I really liked and now I’ve posted my favorite from the month in the contest gallery.  If you are a rrf.com member, please make sure you vote for your favorite image when Leia releases the poll next week.

In my previous post I mentioned some items that I had learned while experimenting.  At the end of the month here’s my favorite tips on panning.

  1. Use a tripod.  The tripod helps with some of the unwanted vertical motion blur.  Of course you still have to keep up with the train as it moves across the scene!
  2. Shutter speed I found had to be regulated by train speed.  Generally trains moving 20 m.p.h. or slower need a 1/10th second shutter speed or slower to capture decent motion.  From there 1/15th second worked well up to around 35 m.p.h. and speeds above that worked well with 1/20th, 1/30th, and 1/40th of a second. 
  3. Use tracking focus (called AI Servo on Canon gear) to continually refocus as the train moves by the camera. 
  4. Take plenty of photos and throw away those that are not focused or panned just right.
  5. Enjoy!

Besides the one I posted at rrf.com here’s a few of my other favorites.

Torn Tarp

Torn Tarp

Building America

Building America

X-KAL

X-KAL

[tags]trains, railroad, photos, photography, pan, panning, vancouver, washington [/tags]

3 thoughts on “More Creative Panning”

  1. I really like that first one. It almost looks like the tarp is the only clear object in the frame.

    By the way, you might want to mention that rrf.com is railroadforums.com, in case you have readers that aren’t familiar with it.

  2. I don’t think my Nikon will refocus during an exposure. I don’t think this is so much of a problem, however, because at those shutter speeds in daylight you can use a fairly small aperture- and hence a larger depth of field, i.e. just use manual focus fixed beforehand.

    Nice photos!

  3. Manual focusing on the ‘sweet spot’ of the image will work just fine as long as the distance from the train to the lens remains relatively constant through the pan. At one location I took about 4 or 5 pan images as the train passed in front of me at 50 m.p.h. The images on the extremes were at a different distance from the ones in the middle of the group that I had to use AI Servo to ensure good focus.

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