Photo settings for sport ...
August 2, 2012 5:11 PM   Subscribe

I have a entry level/basic Canon DSLR, can anyone advise on what settings/technique I need in order to take a similar picture as that contained within this link (cyclists with blurred background)? Thanks in advance
posted by woodenfloored to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Sorry for bad link earlier, bit of a newbie trythis
posted by woodenfloored at 5:18 PM on August 2, 2012

That's accomplished by panning. You need to move the camera so you're tracking the motion of the cyclists.
posted by mr_roboto at 5:22 PM on August 2, 2012 [3 favorites]

It's called panning. You need a slow shutter speed and you physically pan the camera as the subjects are going by.

Hypothetical: If you are outdoors in the sun very low iso (100) very high f-stop (as high as it will go). That will cut down on the amount of light coming into the lens.

Then set your shutter speed to compensate for that. Probably 1/30 second or less. Watch your meter. You want it at most 1/3 stop underexposed.

You are on the side of the road bikes coming by as they start to enter your frame click the shutter and move the lens with the bikes at the same speed they pass. Takes some practice but with digital just shoot away.
posted by WickedPissah at 5:26 PM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Someone just asked a very similar question about the same style of photo.
posted by roomwithaview at 5:57 PM on August 2, 2012

Here's how I took this shot a few nights ago:

1. Took my Canon 5D, changed to Tv mode (shutter speed or Time priority -- at least I think that's what the T stands for in Tv)

2. Change picture shot mode to multiple, high (there is an icon with a big H and a stack of photos)

3. It's handy to have a big memory card, like 16 or 32Gb, the latter which can hold about 3,000 full res jpegs (RAW would be less)

I started shooting earlier that night at 1/80th a second, wasn't getting blurry enough backgrounds, and moved to 1/60th. To get really insane streaks, you have to go down to about 1/30th but keep in mind it's almost impossible to get good photos with a shutter open that long.

I had a long lens on my camera, and I follow the riders as they go past, attempting to keep them in frame at the exact same place while the shutter is open. I hold down the shutter release when they are in frame and shoot about 10-12 shots in the span of a second or so as they go by, and usually only about 1 or 2 frames have anything remotely in focus (sometimes it's just their bike frame, sometimes it is their body too, if they are not pedaling you might luck out and get everything in focus).

Let me be clear that the other night at this bike race I shot 1,100 photos in the span of two hours and I only had 80 keepers and really there were just about 4 or 5 I really liked (I was trying to show shots of everyone so I included more photos than I normally do at a race). You have to get used to merely attempting this technique for a while until you luck out and get a few right. It takes a lot of practice and is best done in something repetitive, where they are going around a short lap so you get a lot of opportunities to shoot someone again and again (a velodrome is best since they often do 20-40 laps in a race). If I was shooting the Tour de France going by my house, I'd never waste the one opportunity for a shot like this, it's way too risky.
posted by mathowie at 6:00 PM on August 2, 2012 [5 favorites]

I did that once with a mid-range point and shoot, and what did the job for me was to a) be lucky and b) move the camera and then hit the shutter while it was already moving and I was already tracking a subject, so the moving background was already moving, as it were.

It also helps to set it up so that there is less distance between you and the subject and more distance between the subject and the background. You have to move the camera more (tripod or stick helps), but you get more movement in the background.

I wouldn't say you want the aperture all the way open, because then the streaks wouldn't be streaky. You want some softness, but not too much. Also, not cranking it wide open means you can go with a longer shutter to get longer streaks. (Which makes getting the shot harder, of course, because you have to be steadier with the camera.) You can also turn off auto focus and manually focus it on where the bikes will be ahead of time, so you can concentrate on tracking the subject.

In other words, shoot the subject as if you were filming them with a video camera.
posted by gjc at 6:55 PM on August 2, 2012

If you're able to stick the camera on a tripod with a head that enables speedy panning, your keeper rate will probably double. Be aware, however, that doubling will still give you an abysmally low keeper rate - it's really a lottery to get a photo that works.
posted by smoke at 7:19 PM on August 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

There are a lot of blogs out there that will explain panning techniques to you. Here's one from National Geographic.

Once you get the basic idea, it's then a matter of practicing and adjusting ad nauseam until you've got it down. Depending on your lens, you can also manually zoom quickly during the shot to create a different kind of motion blur.
posted by MansRiot at 10:09 PM on August 2, 2012

Thanks for all the great advice, much appreciated
posted by woodenfloored at 6:29 AM on August 3, 2012

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