I posted on pan and blur technique a few years back, and thought it might be worth revisiting after a recent trip to Patagonia. Cree and I spent a month in South America, mainly Patagonia, but also exploring some new countries, and everywhere we went wildlife was abundant. Visiting Patagonia in early December is special; bright red firebush is in bloom, birds are breeding, and guanacos have young. Not only is there world class landscape photography, but the wildlife photography is spectacular.
One day in Torres Del Paine we encountered something I have never seen in 25 years of visiting this park. A herd of close to 40 guanacos was stampeding near the road and fighting one another. It was truly amazing to see all these guanacos running, snorting and biting one another oblivious to us photographing them. After shooting hundreds of fast shutter speed/freeze the action images, I wanted to do something different. How about pan and blur?
I normally start with shutter speeds around 1/15-1/30 of a second with my pan and blur. I think the best image is one with some sharpness to anchor the eye, with nice silky blur surrounding it. This is a low ratio kind of shoot. In other words, I shot close to 400 images for about 4 which I liked. 100 to 1, not bad. Since I had guanacos running past every few minutes, it was the perfect opportunity to try this type of shot. For the image above I shot at 1/25 handheld. Using a tripod would have given me more keepers, but the situation was moving quickly as we tried to keep up with the guanacos. My VR was set to sport on my 500mm 5.6 PF for this image. Sport mode doesn’t produce any delay on the shutter release, and works well when you are tracking subjects.
Always remember to think outside the box. If you have nailed a particular shot, what else can you do for a different image? Always think about different angles, perspectives, shutter speeds…there is a lot of camera craft to be applied to any particular subject. If you create something a little different, chances are you will be more satisfied with the final image.