In the previous weblog columns this week we have mentioned that our motor sport professional - Manuel Goria - insists that the image must be focused. You must fight overexposure, shaky hands, and heat haze to get the focus point dead on where you need it and everything around it pin-sharp.
And now you get to ignore that advice with his next lesson - when and how to pan the camera.
We all know about panning a camera to follow the movement of a passing bird, plane, car, or person. It gives us a chance to have the main subject in focus while everything around it is blurring out. The blur is a stream of motion behind or in front of the thing that we wish the viewer to concentrate on. It's simple to do. Not.
Oh, it is simple to twist oneself around, but trying to coordinate the rate of twist and the change in rate ( plus the change in change of rate...like the firing solution for a battleship...) is the tough part. Close to us needs more and faster movement - further away slows this down. The angle that the subject makes as it moves to us also affects the amount of movement we make - a car approaching or moving away is less angular movement but more focusing. Fortunately, it is a firing solution that the Canon processors can cope with.
The use of a parallel position beside the track may let the shooter get a very clean blur behind the car, and sometimes a degree of blur in the wheel spokes. Up and down movement spoils the effect, however. It seems to be much a matter of chance s the shooter develops skill - Manuel says that it is about a 1:50 chance of a keeper when shooting in a pan.
Oddly enough, panning while use of a slow shutter speed can have the effect of getting a main subject in full even if it is intermittently blocked by spectators or fencing.
Manuel likes to see a bit of a tilt in the images - as long as the attitude of the car in question will support the angle and as long as there is no tell-tale vertical element in the rear of the main subject to give away the illusion. Often images can be given freshness and a dynamic look by tilting. Just don't go mad.
The blurring need not be exactly even - as long as the main image is coherently sharp in the areas that you need to illustrate - helmet, logo, wheel, etc...you can have quite a wild backdrop. Look for helpful colours there.
Final notes tomorrow - Manuel tells about the professional shooter's task actually on the F1 circuit.