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Old 05-06-2011, 18:15   #1 (permalink)
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Out of focus

I'm fairly new to Photography and still trying to get my head around it all.

Yesterday, having been invited to Oulton Park by a good friend who manages a driver, I went along and decided to take the camera with me. This was a bit of a roll reverse for me as having competed in Racing and Rallying, I was the one normally being photographed.

I have a 400D with a Tamron 70-300 lens. I didnt think the lens would be up to the job, but was delighted with a lot of the shots I took.

This is the first time I've done any of what I understand is called "panning" and to be fair, a racing car passing you at 120 is probably not the ideal subject to practice on, I know. However, most came out ok, but there were some that didn't and it is this that I find myself a bit confused about.

I tried to prepare myself for this event by researching some tips on photographing racing cars and many said as a newbie use the TV mode, which I did and also used manual focus.

I did play around with the shutter speed quite a lot and believe this is one aspect of photography that I know a lot more about now especially creating the blurred wheel effect. I was surprised how low a shutter speed I could get away with.

My first question is, why were some of the shots I took blurred and secondly, am I right in thinking that when you are manually focusing, should you pre-focus on the part of the track you will be taking the shot then try and take the shot at that point?

I have attached an example of one of the blurred images, this one I can only assume was taken too late and was at point which was out of focus, am I right? or could it be the shutter speed? which looks like I had changed on the second shot.










File Name IMG_6688.JPG
Camera Model Canon EOS 400D DIGITAL
Shooting Date/Time 04/06/2011 13:57:36
Shooting Mode Shutter-Priority AE
Tv( Shutter Speed ) 1/100
Av( Aperture Value ) 7.1
Metering Mode Evaluative Metering
Exposure Compensation 0
ISO Speed 200
Lens 70.0 - 300.0 mm
Focal Length 70.0 mm
Image Size 3888x2592
Image Quality Fine
Flash Off
White Balance Mode Auto
AF Mode Manual focusing
Picture Style Standard
Sharpness 3
Contrast 0
Saturation 0
Color tone 0
Color Space sRGB
Noise Reduction Off



File Name IMG_6703.JPG
Camera Model Canon EOS 400D DIGITAL
Shooting Date/Time 04/06/2011 13:58:39
Shooting Mode Shutter-Priority AE
Tv( Shutter Speed ) 1/80
Av( Aperture Value ) 9.0
Metering Mode Evaluative Metering
Exposure Compensation 0
ISO Speed 200
Lens 70.0 - 300.0 mm
Focal Length 70.0 mm
Image Size 3888x2592
Image Quality Fine
Flash Off
White Balance Mode Auto
AF Mode Manual focusing
Picture Style Standard
Sharpness 3
Contrast 0
Saturation 0
Color tone 0
Color Space sRGB
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Old 05-06-2011, 20:51   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Out of focus

Iam having this problem as well so I would be interested in the answer to
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Old 05-06-2011, 23:31   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Out of focus

You need to learn a technique called Panning

Thats where you actually follow the car round the track. Have your camera set to servo focus so it automaticaly refocuses as the car moves.

It's something that takes a lot of practice so that you get the car in focus and sharp but the background and wheels blurred.

The idea is not to focus on one spot on the track and then " go for it ". Becaues the car is moving accross your field of vue you'll never achieve focus unless you follow the car.
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Old 06-06-2011, 07:56   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Out of focus

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yorksnproud View Post

My first question is, why were some of the shots I took blurred and secondly, am I right in thinking that when you are manually focusing, should you pre-focus on the part of the track you will be taking the shot then try and take the shot at that point?
This a good way of getting these type of shots, but it does rely on the 'depth of field' (DoF). This is the linear area that will be in focus at any given focal length and aperture setting. Smaller aperture (high numbers) will have a greater depth of field than wide apertures, and shorter focal lengths will give a greater DoF than long focal lengths. The depth of field will be in focus no matter where you point the camera, so you should be able to use quite a big part of the track provided it is within the DoF zone. Back in the day, lenses used to have the DoF marked on them, but not any more. You can get DoF calculators - Apps or hard copy - which might help.

The method that Chris describes is also a good way. Each has advantages and disadvantages. Try to track a bird in flight and you will soon realise that method one is probably the best. Where the subject is moving relatively slowly on a fixed trajectory, method two has merit.

I have found that the Zonal focus method allows you to get better compositions as with the tracking method you tend to centralise the subject - not always the best composition.

Remember that you are moving the camera, so unless you track very smoothly, and release the shutter smoothly, you will get some camera shake - not every one will be a keeper! Also, in some circumstances, a bit of blur can suggest movement/speed, so it can be advantageous.

To summerise, I don't think you are doing anything wrong. Your expectations are probably too optimistic You will find the more you take, the better your results will be.
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Old 06-06-2011, 18:31   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Out of focus

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yorksnproud View Post
My first question is, why were some of the shots I took blurred and secondly, am I right in thinking that when you are manually focusing, should you pre-focus on the part of the track you will be taking the shot then try and take the shot at that point?

I have attached an example of one of the blurred images, this one I can only assume was taken too late and was at point which was out of focus, am I right? or could it be the shutter speed? which looks like I had changed on the second shot.
Manual focus: you can pre-focus or manually focus as you track the subject (the technique I use for Dragonflies)

Blurred shots: could be caused by being out of focus but your example is almost certainly from not quite panning smoothly (or the car changed speeds - the smoothness needs to be at both ends, the camera and the car!)
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