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on Jul 22, 2010 in Camera Tech

No Panning = No Speed

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Here’s the same plane, a P-51D and it’s going the same speed and the shutter speed is still 1/90 yet it looks like it’s standing still. Does background make any difference?

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OK, we’re looking down on the subject now, no sky in the photo and it doesn’t really help. Now the mind knows that planes fly and since we see the earth way in the background, we know the plane is flying. But the photo is not saying, “FAST!”

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Change the angle of the Mustang, use a cleaner background and throw in some clouds and still, no speed. Why? The camera is not panning with the subject! Flying air to air, the camera is keeping pace with the subject not by the camera moving but by the camera platform moving. The camera, subject and background are all going the same speed. It’s really no difference then photographing a rock. And here lies the problem, I want that “speed” or movement in my still images when I’m shooting air to air. I’ve written about this problem before and as you can see, I’m still looking for “the” solution.

This movie requires Flash Player 9

This movie requires Flash Player 9

This movie requires Flash Player 9


What’s the problem? We need a blurred background to communicate movement, something not being captured when the camera is moving in relationship with the subject AND the background. I have found an in camera solution to this problem and I’m saving my pennies to do it because it will cost money. So while I’m saving my pennies I wanted to see if there was something that was in the budget that would solve the problem in the short term.

The folks at OnOne Software make some really cool products and in my search I was in touch with them and they turned me on to FocalPoint2 . FocalPoint2 is a pretty sophisticated software that basically gives you an f/1.4 appearance to a photograph taken at f/32. That’s really selling the pluggin short because it does a lot more, but you get the basic concept. Since my problem is the background is too sharp to communicate speed, I thought I would give this a try. As you can see, it does look like I shot at f/1.4 but I don’t have the feel of speed, not even close. Why not?

When you pan, the background gets blurred but more than that is happening. Anything in the background just doesn’t go out of focus, but “streaks.” Those streaks give the eye a since of direction and really mimics what you see in comics when they draw something moving. You see streaks coming from behind the moving object indicating movement and speed. So while FocalPoint2 does a killer job accurately creating an out of focus background, it doesn’t streak it. You might be saying something like, “Hey Moose, use Motion Blur in Photoshop!” It doesn’t work either, I spent an hour trying. So, the bottomline is, keep saving the pennies, in camera is the solution.

As a side note, all off OnOne pluggins run 64bit! That’s cool!