Panning Shots – Sharp and Blur Together

Panning shots always looked cool to me.  You see them often in sports photography – a car or bike in perfect focus with the background just a motion blur behind it.  The way you usually do this is by setting your camera to a moderately low shutter speed (it all depends, but maybe somewhere between 1/50 and 1/10) and as the subject moves past you in a horizontal direction, you track them with your camera and take the picture while moving your camera to follow them.  When done right, you get a subject in focus and everything else a blur.  I’ve never had a ton of practice getting this type of shot but here are a few like that:

Thunder Mountain Railroad at Disneyland - Panning Shot

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Here’s another.  Notice how… not sharp the subject is.  Part is lack of practice and the other part is this just… kinda hard!

Seattle Redbull Soapbox Derby Banana - Panning

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I’ve got the cure for your problems.  Wanna take a picture that doesn’t require things to go whizzing past your face, lets you easily accommodate your subject of choice, and get a great panning effect?  With a little help from an idea stolen directly from DIY Photography, you can do just that!  Hit the jump for the rest!

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Please Kill Me Before I Have To Do That Again

I might have told you a few days back that I had migrated the blog to a new host.  That was true, except for one thing.  During the migration, somehow the database that runs the show and makes everything sparkling and magical got a bit borked.  Everything seemed to work, except the plugin I use to show you all the info on each picture couldn’t find things.  I tried all sorts of configuration until I realized it just wasn’t going to happen.  My options were to attempt to edit the database (a really bad idea), manually remove and reupload all my pictures (a super time consuming bad idea), have my great friend Josh try and fix it (a very promising but ultimately unsuccessful bad idea), or figure out what happened and how to fix it.

In the end, I had to delete my whole blog, including the wordpress install and database , which scares the living crap out of me, and rebuild it.  Since the files are all in the same places, after reimporting the XML file I had saved, it mostly came back to life.  I had to rebuild all the pages, reconfigure everything, fix some CSS, blah blah blah.

Along the way, there was a little damage.  If you were subscribed to a post, that went away.  I’m sure I’m more sorry about it than you are and I heartily encourage you to resubscribe if you’d like.  If you made a comment on my last post or two, that’s gone too.  I really like comments.  I miss them already.

Long story short, although there was a bit of damage, I really think we’re back online and relatively trouble-free.  I’m not going to touch anything unless I really have to.  Please tell me if you see anything funny, otherwise, back to doing the photography thing, no more doing the “make it work” thing.



Stay Back – Unstable Cliffs

Sunset Cliffs in Ocean Beach is my kind of place.  I spent a lot of my formative pre-college days listening to the pounding waves against the cliffs and enjoying the distance from the hippies and crowds of OB proper.  Usually out on the cliffs you have the company of a few joggers, a few more seagulls, and a lot of wind.  It’s just a nice place to be.

Sunset Cliffs - Unstable Cliffs

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If you’re a property owner, however, I’d be a little more worried.  The cliffs are always eroding, sometimes in a spectacular way, and I wouldn’t want my house right across the street.  They put up these little fences around areas of particular danger, and I thought the sharp man-made lines just seemed so out of place in all the rounded nature around it.  I like the lines in this picture, and it’s one of the few that makes me feel ok breaking the rule of thirds.  Maybe even more than in this one.  I think that because there is one man-made object in the whole frame, it makes sense to sort of hide it in plain sight.  It lets nature stay balanced all around.  I think it would have looked sort of funny anywhere else.

Update 2009/11/19/16:25:

Oh yeah… one more thing I didn’t mention above.  I threw a little vignette on this picture.  I don’t use this a ton and when I do, it’s mostly for portraiture.  I tried to keep it pretty subtle too, but I think it works well here for the same reason it does in portraiture – you’re bringing all the eyes into the middle and you don’t want people drifting out the sides.  Just thought I’d mention it!

Wet Makes Moss

Sometimes it rains in Seattle.  I mean it – it only rains sometimes.  Wet, however, is a state of almost constant being.  Seattle is damp.  Seattle is drippy. Seattle has moss.

Mossy Green Wall

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I can’t say that scenes like this are rare, but the forest-like nature in the middle of the neighborhood seemed just right to me.  It reminds me why I like carrying around my camera while I’m taking walks on rainy days.  It also bewilders me why people feel the need for specialty lenses like the Lens Baby line. They’re not cheap enough to be toys (well… except when compared to real lens prices) and they create an effect you could otherwise create in Photoshop, if you didn’t want to do it yourself, like above, with a small aperture.  Just sayin…

Welcome Home

2017.09.19 Update: Two things since I posted this:

  1.  I’m currently hosting my blog myself.  This isn’t for everyone and it isn’t the most robust, but it’s certainly the cheapest if you already have the gear.
  2. One of the folks at Cloudwards reached out to me about linking to their rundown on what to look for in a cheap web host and the article isn’t bad.  Take a look here.

If you are reading this, odds are my blog has been migrated to a new host.  I meant to focus on this a week or two back, but I managed to mangle the translation a few times and well… I need a little me time first.

As far as I know, we’re sitting on a new host.  The masthead has been refreshed as well – nice elephant, eh?  Other than that, I know of one problem – the exif information (specifics about each photograph) that usually appear in a little table underneath the shot aren’t showing up right.  I need your help finding out what else is wrong, because I’m sure there is something.

If you could be so kind as to randomly click three links deep, wherever you want to go, and tell me if you see anything else messed up, I would be forever in your debt.  Do it for me, before google finds the problems and destroys my meager page rank.

Thanks team!

Not Gone, Not Forgotten

Hey All,

    You might have been wondering “why no new posts”?  Actually I flatter myself – you have better things to do than wonder.  In any case, there is a reason and “busy with other things” is only part of it.  In my never ending quest to be cheap thrifty, I’m moving my blog to a new host.  If I can get a couple last problems figured out, we’ll make it live and I can get back to thinking about pictures, not software.  I have to keep the inner nerd alive and make it happen – databases, .htaccess files, and wordpress installations be damned.  When I get done, maybe I’ll even spruce things up a bit.  I promise you it won’t be too much longer.  Just don’t hold me to that.

The Evolution Of Panorama

Panoramic photography is a lot of fun.  There is nothing like the viewpoint you can get by stitching together a bunch of shots into a broad sweeping view.  I first posted instructions on how to shoot a panorama back here.  We then had a couple posts in a row alternately described as Panoramania and Panorama-orama.  Lots of fun.  All the instructions for how to actually capture the pictures are still fairly valid but I want to tell you there is a better way.  Behold!


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See that shot?  Not too bad, right?  The real magic however, is twofold.  First off,  I shot that hand-held.  Yes, it was in fairly bright sun so the exposure was easy, but it includes a beach scene and rolling waves are just about the hardest thing to put in a panorama.  The real beauty behind it all is Adobe Photoshop CS4.  Whereas before I told you to use Panorama Factory or Autostitch, which are still fine, I just need to spread the word that the built-in panorama creation tool in CS4 beats them all.  In fully auto mode, it stitched together 6 individual shots to create this without any manual intervention.  Without much if any moire, and without totally barfing when it came to the water.  The original shot is 10,000 and some pixels wide and I think it’s beautiful.  If anyone is really interested, I can post a larger version too.

The moral of the story is this: go shoot some panoramas.  Certainly a tripod and level will help and for night shots it might be the only way, but don’t limit yourself!  Software is constantly improving and even if you don’t have Photoshop CS4 right now, you might get it down the road (or you might get this feature in something free or low cost in 6 months).  Things change!  The only thing you can’t change is the fact that you might not take pictures today.  I’ve certainly regretted the things I’ve not captured.  Do yourself a favor.  Digital is cheap.  Go take pictures.