Keeping Up with the Subject
Keeping up with the subject, that’s one of our main tasks. It kept me jumping all this last weekend. Mentally watching the subject is part of it. Mentally thinking of how you want to tell its story visually is part of it. And in this case, keeping the film plane up with the subject is my point. What otherwise is called panning, it still seems to be a puzzle to many how it actually is a technique that works. Understand panning is a technique to “freeze” a moving subject by moving with the subject. That is, the film plane moves with the subject. When done correctly, the subject is frozen because as far as the film plane (sensor) is concerned, the subject isn’t moving. As along as the movement is moving parallel with the film plane at the exact same pace, it works perfectly.
Here are two different ways of keeping up with the subject to render a moving subject sharp. The top image is the most common. We move with the subject by twisting at the trunk so the sensor is keeping pace with the subject. Shooting with the D4s / 80-400VR3, I panned with the B-17F “Memphis Belle” as it flew past the clouds. Now the background is not blurred because it is so far away from the subject. But the props blur because they are turning perpendicular to the film plane. That movement can be effected visually by using a slow shutter speed. The bottom photo using the same gear, the prop is blurred for the same reason but the plane itself is sharp from a different technique. In the air to air photo, the forward motion of the plane from which the photo is being taken, is the same speed as the plane being photographed. In both cases, you can be shooting at a shutter speed of 1sec and still get a very sharp image IF you keep the film plane moving perfectly in sync with the subject. That IF is a biggie in all of that and you remove the IF from the equation with lots and lots of practice. This photography thing is all aspects is all about keeping up with the subject.