Learning technique

Today, a tip and a request.

First, the tip.

How do you learn to “pan” your camera along with a moving object (like a bicycle travelling traversely through your picture)? So that the object appears to not move much, while the background is a streak? How do you learn this in the absence of cyclists riding through your living room? You pan and follow your hand. That’s how.

  1. Set your camera to S/Tv mode
  2. Select a shutter speed of 1/15th second (a good starting point).
  3. Hold your hand out as far as it can go.
  4. Focus on it. Wait for the beep and then hold your finger on the shutter to lock that focus distance.
  5. Now rapidly move your entire body around, so your hand describes a circle around you.
  6. Half way through that circle: click. (Do not stop moving to click!)

Try this technique, and repeat until you are happy. Your images may look somewhat like this:

You thus get to practice the technique that gets you images like this:

Did you find that a useful tip? Then I have a request for you.

I teach these and many photographic techniques –  a tip a day! – because I want to give back and help disseminate information and knowledge as widely as possible. I want the world to learn photography, and I think I can be a small part of that.

But you can help me too.

First: send me questions. About anything photographic.  I’ll do my best to answer them in a timely manner right here. That way, your question benefits others too.

Second: help me with the blog. Apart from small contributions, which are always welcome (see the link on the right), even more importantly, you can link to me. Mention my blog to friends and to others who many be interested. Link from your blog or from your facebook page. Tweet. Mention me on your web site. If you are helped by this, you can do me a big favour by spreading my name, and that of this blog, as widely as possible. This is an ongoing request!

That way I get better known, and I get to help more people. In this way, we all help each other. I firmly believe that this is the way the new economy works. Social media, sharing, the Internet: we now grow value by collaborating, not by “hoarding and hiding knowledge”. People who do not yet understand this will eventually find out that the old “make money by keeping knowledge secret” paradigms are dead.

And the world will be a better place for it.


0 thoughts on “Learning technique

  1. Been following your site for a couple of months now mainly to monitor your feedback on the 7D. It’s am imminent purchase, I already bought the battery grip.

    You tip today is important.
    I have the following image taken. As opposed to shutter priority, I was lucky that on aperture priority of F2.8, it also gave similar shutter speed of 1/15sec.


    Thank you for the wonderful blog and hope to read more about the 7D. I will collect my unit on Feb 13.

  2. Thanks for the compliment, Jan. Spread the word!

    Love your pic. I know exactly where you took that!

    I will come to HK to teach a full day course on “Advanced Flash and Advanced Digital Camera Use”, if I get 15-20 people (who understand English) interested.

    And that’s great about you 7D: you will love it. Exciting, and I bet you can hardly wait.

    You raise a very valid point. When we want a particular setting (say a shutter speed of 1/15th second), it does not matter how we get there. Tv/S, or Av/A, or P with “Program Shift”, even M (manual) mode: all these are just different ways to get to the same settings. And in the end, those settings are all that matters. The “modes” are just there for your convenience.

  3. Michael, I’m not exactly in HK but I travel there every now n then for work. I’m based in the Philippines. While I’m not sure if you have a strong following here, there is a huge base of amateur photographers (n growing) here and u may tie up with Canon Philippines as a Canon Pro to roll out a course.

    And everyone here understands and speaks English. If your course comes true, I’ll be in it provided my work-travel sked allows.

    Regarding the shutter speed again, I think you will agree it’s highly reliant on the metering and the mode it’s in depending on the brightness of the subject vs its surroundings. So that’s why I said I was lucky to get that shot just right. And you are absolutely right. Tv is the way to go. I will not get the same shot in daylight condition since shutter speed might go as fast as 1/1000s.

    Ur blog inspires. Keep the good stuff coming.

  4. Jan, understood. I’ll give it a try – I know a number of Phillipino photographers here in Toronto: they can perhaps help too.

    Indeed, with Tv it’s a sure thing; with P or Av (or indeed M) it’s all up to you to watch that dial.

    And thanks for the compliments!

  5. Michael,

    I have been following you for the last 2 or 3 months, and found it very helpful in developing my own skills and technique. I don’t have a website or blog where I can create a link to this great blog, but I will put a link on every photo that I post on Flickr from now on.

    Here are a couple of my panning shots.

  6. Michael,
    I understand about not hoarding and hiding knowledge. I have asked you things on many occasions: I either received a quick answer right then, or you gave est. time when it would be posted on your blog.
    There were a few times when people came up to me for help with their cameras because I had my camera on a tripod and look like a “Photographer”
    Last month I was at a concert in Hamilton place and it was intermission, I walked up to the photographer that where working and ask how where there shots turned out because they were shooting with flash, I then showed him mine, without a flash, I then changed a few of his settings and he was quite happy, he then told his manager. I almost got myself an invite on the artist bus.
    I was lucky in both cases, they were shooting Canon. I now have a contact to shoot in Hamilton for special events.
    I have a website, http://www.rays-photography.com that gets a bit of traffic. I will for sure add a link, to you blog, it would be my pleasure.


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