Hello, wake up, get the thread out of the freezer....
It was asked of me if I did panning shots, so on PAD, I posted a couple of will soon add some more. But, I thought a discussion of what I have found as the different techniques of panning, and possibly this would get some different ideas going. Posting of photos can be done after a discussion of the different opinions.
Most common is the high sped object, moving from side to side. Remember, the relative speed of the object increases as it comes into the photo, is maximum in front of you and decreases as the object moves away. The Nikon Digitutor on the D4 shows some of this with the panning of race vehicles. http://www.nikonusa.com/Nikon-Products/Product/Digital-SLR-Cameras/25482/D4.html
Go to "Autofocus II" in the Digitutor.
Once the idea of the speed differential is understood, then the practice begins. Before any exposures I will follow 5 or 10 objects and try to get the "feel" of the movement.
The second case involving less panning but more work in the camera, is the object moving more at an angel toward us. This requires a good mechanical auto focus mechanism.
Thirdly, is the panning with shorter lenses. In this case, one must understand the out of focus and the blurring will take place as a rotational phenomenon, and the point we want to show with clarity is where we want our rotational center to be.
So far no mention of shutter speed or aperture. This is where one must find their own way...sort of. I like to know the approximate speed of the object relative to my position. Then I calculate the feet (or meters) per second. For example, 70 mph is about 100 feet per second. Thus, at 1/100th second shutter speed the car moves 1 foot. If I am extremely talented, I can follow a car with panning and catch this. But, the "keeper" rate at 1/100th is maybe 10-20% maximum with a 300mm or longer lens when one fills the frame. One must understand that if the object fills only have the frame its relative speed is also one half, making the panning easier. But if one crops to the full frame in PP, then the relative speed comes back to exactly the same as if a longer lens was used.
If the shutter speed is 1/250th sec, then the "keeper" rate goes to about 50% if it is a good day. Now, I have panned at 1/15th sec where the vehicle was going about 40 mph (60 feet per second). The keeper rate is about 2-5%. But, even at 1/1000th sec, at 100 mph (160 kph), the object is going nearly 150 feet per second (45 meters/sec) or during exposure 2 inches (45mm). So, if the panning is not close...blur will result.
As to aperture, I like to stop down about 2-3 f/stops. That is with an f/2.8, I go to 5.6 as a minimum and usually further so as to give some DOF. Maybe f/8-11. I rarely go beyond f/16 or smaller as I do not think the optics do well at small f/stops.
VR...I use it as the lens thinks the variations in ones panning is vibration and may save you. But, at 1/100th or shorter, a test of your lens/camera combo may be in order. Tripod..generally to hold the heavy stuff of 400mm and longer. Some may be able to hand hold, and others like a monopod as it is lighter weight. The tripod need s a good head. I use a Manfrotto Gimbal head and it is great especially at the price point. And slimy smooth.
For shorter lenses up to 300mm, hand holding, using a body rotation to shoot seems to work. I hold the camera with the lens in left hand and elbow is on my chest, locking the entire camera/lens to me. The rotation is smoother this way, at least for me.
For the real short lenses, way down to even 16mm on full frame, the motion of the body will be quite rapid as one is generally only a few feet from the subject. Care must be taken to not get injured in these cases.
Now, some like to shoot single shots....I like to shoot as many FPS as I can with the panning shots. In some cases I will allow the object to enter the frame slowly, try to "lock on" and then it moves out of the frame. Usually I catch the object in the finder, press the release half way about half second before exposures, then press the release and shoot maybe five to ten frames. I like to have the object fill the entire frame as it gets close to me, if possible.
Post processing. I download about 50% into the computer. Then, using an enlarged image 100% crop, I go through all the images and eliminate any which are not crisp. Another 50-75% I am extremely critical about sharpness in the photos. Most of the folks who view my photos like them. Car owners want to see their car, not some fuzzy artsy crap. OK, some are nice photos, but most folks want to see what the object is.
If one gets anything out of this soliloquy, then it is time to practice. Thousands of shutter clicks, hours in post processing. And, I rarely if ever "sharpen"in PP as I think it kills details.
Hope this get some folks thinking....
Oh, look at this one
Shot at 1/250th f/14 ISO 250 Vehicle speed about 60-70 mph.