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Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Photographing movement – Part II

The final part of the exercises was to choose 2 favourite images from the 2 sets. I actually found this quite difficult, as I liked many of them for different reasons and even now not 100% convinced of my choices; I enjoyed both exercises and even though more than one from each set appealed to me I chose the following;

Image8 (static)
Image8 (panning)

I guess I chose theses as being what I feel are the most conventional views of motion. Both are recognisable as cars, while the static shot the car is blurred against the rest of the image is sharp and overall I feel it shows that the car is in motion (the sharpness of the vehicle was not as important for the effect). In the panning image I like that the car is in focus, but the wheels are blurred adding to the motion. I also feel that the sports style of the car added to the effect. Added to that I was quite please with my panning efforts especially at 50mph!

Just for fun

I thought I would add a few extra long exposure images that I have taken prior to the course, plus a few that I took from the exercises and tweaked them in Photoshop elements to see what effects I could get from the overexposed images. 

Monday, 22 February 2010

Panning with different shutter speeds

Linked to the previous exercise,the idea behind this exercise was to follow the movement (panning) with the camera while taking a series of images from a fast shutter speed to a slow shutter speed, then make notes and compare the image effects.

I located myself along a busy road 3 lane road with a speed limit of 50mph. I used my 18-55mm kit lens; however I kept the focal length constant throughout the exercise; 28mm, and like the previous exercise I have cropped them to fill the frame with more of the cars. For consistency I kept the ISO at the lowest setting of 100.

For this exercise I left the camera in an autofocus mode. This works fine for this exercise as I panned the subject the camera was able to autofocus without difficulty.

The weather conditions were cold, sunny with intermittent cloud, and the sunlight coming from pretty much overhead. As with the last exercise I didn’t concern myself with perspective and depth and just concentrated on the panning.

Throughout the exercise I changed the shutter speed only and left the camera to adjust the aperture for exposure. 




1/2000 sec underexposed due to the very fast shutter speed; the image appears frozen in time there is no sense of movement.




1/1500 sec little difference than the first image. The car still looks Stationary. There is a slight blur to the vehicle travelling in the opposite direction, however think this is more to do with focus rather than me panning in from right to left.




1/1000 sec little movement, but a bit lighter exposure.




1/500 sec lacking movement in general, however there is a slight blur to the wheel hubs. The background also seems ever so slightly more burred. Don’t think it’s camera shake at this speed. Either way I don’t feel the van has movement yet.




1/250 sec to get a bit of movement now. The vehicles on the opposite side going the other direction have started to stretch (like in the previous exercise – see the wheels). The taxi wheels also appear to have a blur to them; adding to the feeling of motion.




1/125 sec to ‘feel’ it now. The buildings in the background are starting to stretch and blur more as I pan with the car. The car is still relatively sharp, but the wheel hubs are starting to blur more too.




1/60 sec feeling of movement is becoming more apparent now, the background as well as the lines in the road are starting to blur more and streak horizontally (note the lamppost ghosting). The car is relatively sharp (perhaps starting to suffer from some minor camera shake) and the wheel hubs are much more blurred. I feel that this has a nice feeling on motion. (So far my panning technique seems to be holding its own too!)




1/30 sec background and road are now much more streaked and blurred, the wheel hubs are also blurred. I also think the sharpness and panning in this shot is pretty sharp considering the speed of the shutter now. I also think the exposure is well balanced in this shot. Perhaps the notion that it’s a sports car adds the the feeling of speed.




1/15 sec is still holding it’s own. I was quite surprised at this stage as I thought there would be more camera shake than there is. The houses in the background are pretty much unrecognisable at this stage too. I think the camera was also getting to the the limits of the exposure as the images were getting brighter.




1/8 sec image is starting to become overexposed, as the shutter speed slows and the aperture has gone as small as it can (for the setup). The background is now coloured streaks and unrecognisable as houses and trees. There is more camera shake in the image which can be seen by the wheels starting to distort in shape, However I was still pretty happy with my technique; the shape is still recognisable as a car and there is still a sense of motion and speed.




1/4 sec is hanging in there! Over exposed and the camera shake is more obvious. I was still impressed that the car was still recognisable. I thought I would have lost it by now!




1/2 sec

At half a second the image has lost the plot. The overexposed image is had to tell what you are looking at. However I plan to have a play around in Photoshop to see what effects I can produce from this.

This has been my favourite exercise to date! I really enjoyed practising the panning technique. I aim to add a few extra ‘motion’ shots that I have taken in the past to this project.

Out of this set of images I would have to say that images 7 and 8 are my favourite as they have clear images of the cars but have a strong feeling of motion. That said I like all the images after image7 I think they capture the feeling of motion and speed in all of them.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Shutter speeds


The idea behind this exercise was to ‘fix’ position then to take a series of images from a fast shutter speed to a slow shutter speed, then make notes and compare the image effects.

I set the camera on a tripod at the location adjacent to a busy 30mph road (so there was no shortage of subject matter all averaging at around that speed)I used my 18-55mm kit lens; however I kept the focal length constant throughout the exercise; 28mm, however they have been cropped to fill the frame with more of the cars. Also for consistency I kept the ISO at the lowest setting of 100. I also used a cable release so I could watch the road as cars approached without having to frame the shot each time.

Connected to this was the problem with the camera not being able to autofocus in time to the cars as they travelled past . Therefore I opted to ‘pre-focus’ the camera on a manual setting at the point where the cars past, which did not change throughout the exercise.

The weather conditions were cold, sunny with intermittent cloud, and the sunlight coming from behind the camera. There isn’t a great sense of depth (generally this set is quite ‘flat’) , however there is some diminishing perspective created by the houses in the background (left side) and a few people in some, that help a bit. ; admittedly I didn’t bother too much about the perspective or depth of the image, it was all about the ‘movement’ and speed for the exercise.

Throughout the exercise I changed the shutter speed only and left the camera to adjust the aperture for exposure. 


28mm f/4 1/2000 sec The was the fastest shutter speed I used for the set. The camera was in fact go as fast as 1/4000 however to add shots at that speed didn’t add anything to the exercise. The image is a little dark; the equipment set up struggled at the extreme ends of the shutter speeds to set a more reasonable exposure. Everything in the image is frozen; it is as if the car is parked.


28mm f/4 1/1500 sec There was little difference at a shutter speed of 1/500 this car still looks stationary. The image is slightly lighter due to the slightly longer exposure.


28mm f/4 1/1000 sec Again very little change and the vehicle is still sharp with no feeling of movement, and the image is brighter due to the change in exposure.


28mm f/4.5 1/500 sec 
Ever so slightly brighter than the previous image(3) and although the car lacks a sense of motion and looks stationary, I noticed a slight blur on the wheels. I also noticed that the driver should consider his very bad habits when driving at 30mph…


28mm f/6.7 1/250 sec

It maybe not seen at this size of image, however there is definitely a slight blur to the car starting to appear and the wheels showing a lot more motion blur too; even so I still feel that the image lacks ‘movement’ and the car doesn’t feel like it’s in proper motion yet.


28mm f/10 1/125 sec starting to see some motion blur to the car while the background remains still. Although the car has wide ‘spokes’ I get the impression that are moving faster. I now start to get a sense of movement


28mm f/13 1/60 sec motion blur is now starting to sort of streak slightly, increasing the sense of speed and forward movement, the spokes on the wheels are blurring further adding to the sense of them moving, they are also ‘stretched’. The driver of the car is also starting to stretch out more.


28mm f/19 1/30 sec feeling of speed is gaining in this image, the car is starting to stretch out further; the wheels are now stretched into oval shapes and the driver is hardly recognisable; subject is still recognisable as a car though


28mm f/27 1/15 sec is the last image in the set where the subject still has some recognition as a car, the motion blur is quite strong and has started to distort the shape. The wheels are almost like tank tracks, now that they are stretched out so much!


28mm f/27 1/8 sec

At this shutter speed the image has lost the sense of what you are looking at; almost abstract. The context of the image clues us that it is a car, but it is so far stretched it is pretty much unrecognisable, a very interesting effect though. The camera is also starting to struggle with the exposure; even with the smallest aperture the length of time the shutter was open (on a bright sunny day) caused the image to be overexposed. My camera has various options to assist with this (e.g.exposure compensation control) and the ability to tweak post shutter in the ‘digital darkroom’ software, however I decided to leave it as the camera found it to illustrate the light effect of long exposure


28mm f/27 1/4 sec of a second and there is nothing recognisable of the car, all that is left is a green flash. The image is now very over exposed.


28mm f/27 1/2 sec is little to add on this image; at half a second shutter speed in these light conditions the image is too overexposed to be of value. I was going to leave it out of the blog but this is my learning log so left it in to show my experience of the exercise 

I really enjoyed doing this exercise and testing the effects of shutter speeds. I have had a play with shutter speeds in the past and will post a few results at the end of the Photographing movement project and after the next exercise.

I’m also interested in images 11 and 12 to see if I can make something more interesting out of them using Photoshop Elements. I liked the abstract image of the ‘seagull in flight’ In the course text.

Out of this set images 8, 9 & 10 are my favourites for showing the sense of motion, they all give an effect of movement with the motion blur, but still retain the context of what it is. Having said that we will see what I can do with images 11 and 12.

Now onto the next stage of this project…Panning

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Photographing movement

I’ve already mentioned shutter speeds and how they affect the amount of light hitting the cameras sensor and how the increments (standard stops) half or double the amount of light; and how the shutter speed works with the aperture to control the ‘exposure’.

This next set of exercises are to explore the relationship between the speed of the shutter and how it captures ‘movement’ and effect this has on the resulting images.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Focus at different apertures


This exercise was similar to the ‘Popeye’ exercise in that it required a scene with some depth; in that exercise I kept a fixed aperture and focal length, demonstrating how depth of vision (depth of field) can be affected by focusing at different distances. I also learnt that using depth of field can direct a person’s vision to a specific aspect of an image; ‘drawing their eye’ if you like.

This exercise is about how the aperture affects the limits of focus and sharpness. The idea is to take 3 images of the same scene with different aperture settings, then comparing the 3 images to see how those apertures changed the resulting images and mark off the limits of sharpness on the prints. I’ve used a blue outline to demonstrate this.

I wanted to use an outside scene for this exercise, however a cold (as in I’m feeling rough!) and the weather has given me the excuse of staying in again. I feel a bit guilty though as I really ought to be pushing myself out of this comfort zone and look for more opportunities away from home (Although I suspect it wont be the last time!)

That aside my scene was made up by placing a number of soft drink cans in a triangle formation on a white background. This was located close to a large window, with the ‘point’ of the triangle facing the window. The camera was facing the cans with the light from the window behind it. All lighting was natural from the window (no flash or indoor lights were used).

I kept a fixed 50mm focal length on the lens and my focus point was on the front drinks can. To maintain the same focus point and position I also mounted the camera onto a tripod. ISO was manually set to 100 throughout the exercise. The range of aperture size ranged from f/1.8 at the largest to f/22 at the smallest, incrementing in ‘half-stops’. See my earlier post of ‘getting to know your camera' for more information.

The only setting that I changed through the experiment was the aperture settings; I left the camera to set the shutter speed for the correct exposure.

Image1. This was with the larges aperture available on the camera/lens configuration. This had the view with the smallest level of sharpness and the most shallow depth of field. with only the surface of the can in focus, even the ring-pull on top the can is out of focus. Although not clear so much from the size of image here, it is much more clear on the printed version, despite this I found it fairly easy to identify where the limit of sharpness was with only a small part of the image in focus, I’ve marked this off roughly on the image below; Large aperture = Shallow depth of field. And my eye is drawn to a small part of the image.

50mm f/1.8 1/8 sec

Image2. In this image I selected an aperture around the middle of my scale of f-stops. As expected the depth of field, level of sharpness increased with the smaller aperture. I left the camera automate the shutter speed during the exercise and interestingly for image 2 the shutter speed was 1.5 seconds compared to the first shot of only 1/8th of a second. (More about this at the end of this exercise). The results of this image was a bit harder to tell where the limits of sharpness was, however from the image it I could see that the depth of the image that was in focus had increased and it now encompassed the surfaces of the second layer of cans, with the sharpness training off from that.

50mm f/6.70 1.5 sec

Image3. For the last image I used the smallest aperture that my camera and lens setup would allow, which was f/22. It was just was well that I was using a tripod for this, as the camera automatically selected a long exposure of 15 seconds for the exposure! As the first to images showed the smaller the aperture, the larger the limit of sharpness in the image, however for the sensor to get enough light to maintain the exposure with a very small aperture the shutter had to be open for a long period. That said, pretty much the whole image was now in focus with the largest depth of field.

50mm f/22 15 sec

Notes on shutter speed

As well as looking at how the aperture size effects depth of field, I also reaffirmed knowledge about the link between the shutter speed and size of the aperture. From my earlier section of ‘getting to know your camera’ I noted that each standard increment of aperture f-stop = half or double the amount of light reaching the sensor. What I didn’t note at the time (no pun intended) was that the shutter speed standard (full stop) scale = the same. i.e. that each increment of shutter speed = half or double the amount of light reaching the sensor. 

In the exercise I had the camera in AV (aperture control) mode leaving the shutter speeds up to the camera, even so I noticed that the shutter speeds that the camera picked were the same amount of increments (half stops in my case) as the aperture value e.g.

aperture f/22 f/19 f/16 f/13 f/11 f/9.5 f/8 f/6.7
shutter 15 sec 10 sec 8 sec 6 sec 4 sec 3 sec 2 sec 1.5 sec

As you can see, Image3 I set the aperture at f/22 and the camera set the shutter speed at 15 seconds. Then as each aperture increase (more light in) the shutter speed compensates the exposure by reducing the shutter speed (less light in) and thereby maintaining the constant exposure through the steps!

Summary – Another good exercise with this one showing that when aperture gets bigger then the depth of field gets less, and vice versa. Also another example of how the focus can draw attention to specific parts of an image.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Focus with a set aperture – Just for fun

Here are comments that I received in relation to my Swee’Pea reverse image experiment on flickr & facebook.

For Swee’Pea (orginal)

  • “Interesting question. We touched on it in T189, apparently western eyes like moving from left to right - the same way as we are taught to read, and I prefer No 1. Anyway whichever is preferred its a good technical demonstration of Dof and perspective, so thanks GB.” - PeterChad (flickr)
  • “ prefer this one, because its the right way round...although there is very little text on the base of olive, its nice to be readable”Graham Andrews
  • “I like the one on the right because your eye is drawn to the barrel first then the other characters & their reactions”Kristy Mannix Photography

For Swee’Pea II (Reversed)

  • “I've looked very carefully, and of the two Sweet Peas I prefer this one. However, it is very difficult for me to decide exactly why I prefer it.
    Perhaps because the direction in which they are facing is to the right, and in our Roman alphabet we read from left to right? Somehow it feels more comfortable to me for a sense of movement to be going towards the right (forwards?) rather than left (backwards?)”
    - amnesia.of.borg (flickr)
  • “I like this one better! Nice clarity!” - RMBPhotos (flickr) 
  • “funky pics!! I like the one on the left x” – Siobhán
  • “I agree! They're all great, but I think I prefer this one. Great subject matter! Where's Olive Oyl???” - Sun Dogs & Daylilies (flickr)

I also asked my family and they mostly preferred the original, but not really sure why.

I guess that overall it was a 60-40ish split between the two images with the original being the most preferred. I haven’t made any real conclusions about this yet, it was just for a bit of fun and it appears quite subjective with arguments for both; perhaps I will explore this further as the course continues. 

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Focus with a set aperture


For the exercise my ‘scene’ was made up by placing 3 small pewter characters from the ‘Popeye’ cartoons in a line and equal distance from each other (approx 12inches apart). I used a ‘fixed’ lens focal length of 50mm with the widest aperture that I could, f/1.8 onto a white background, then set my camera at a slight angle from the line of ‘characters’ on a tripod for stability. ISO was manually set to 100 throughout the exercise.

I set the scene close to a large window with the characters facing it; (therefore light was coming from behind the camera) the light was dull and overcast, although the white background reflected some of the light back onto the scene.

I kept the camera settings and position throughout the exercise and left the camera to set the shutter speed for the correct exposure. 

In Image 1 Swee’Pea was the focus point. I notices the Brutus (Middle) was out of focus, and Popeye (Furthest) was so much more out focus he could hardly be made out at all. I felt that the depth of view was very shallow, (I felt that image 3 was less shallow though).

50mm f/1.8 1/30 sec

In Image 2 Brutus was the focus point. This caused both Swee’Pea (Nearest) and Popeye to be both out of focus; I felt although that this ‘soft’ (un-)focus was similar between the two, but in my eye Popeye was ever so slightly ‘more’ in focus that Swee’Pea is.

50mm f/1.8 1/30 sec

In Image 3 Popeye was the focus point. This was interesting; Brutus was out of focus and Swee’Pea was more out of focus than in image 2. However Brutus was slightly more focused than he was in image 1. I felt although the depth of view was still shallow, I felt it was less so than in image 1.

50mm f/1.8 1/30 sec

I enjoyed the exercise and although not as clear as it could be due to the subject I found that that the further away the focus point the more depth of the scene will be more focused; at least for a set aperture and keeping same focal length. I hopefully will be able to try this again to test this further.


In terms of which image I preferred it would have to be image 1; I like the off centre position of the focal point. I find my eye is drawn to it immediately and the depth created by Brutus and Popeye from left to right, increasingly out of focus gives a nice context and balance.

However just for fun I thought I would ‘reverse’ the image to see how the focus point would work on the right…

I still think image 1. How about next together for easy comparison?

For me, my eyes seem finds it easier to scan from left to right. There maybe other reasons why I prefer it, but not got that far in the course notes yet! I will post the images to flickr for comments . Any comments from that or direct to this log will be added to the log.

Monday, 8 February 2010


This section was about selecting a scene that had depth, then taking shots at different distances and then to compare the differences. For this section I wanted to capture something ‘outside’ with depth; but somewhat time constricted (and weather!) this week however, I decided that rather than wait for my next available proper ‘shoot’ (the weekend) I created a small scene inside (out of the cold!) that was more for fun but at the same time demonstrated the exercise. (Results tomorrow).

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Focal length and angle of view

The focal length is the measurement from the lens to the sensor in millimetres which determines the angle of view; with 50mm focal length (on a full frame/35mm camera) being the accepted standard angle of view to the way we see. Due to a person’s peripheral vision it’s not an exact comparison though, and would be somewhere in the region of 40-50mm on a full frame camera.

The course notes indicated that the simple guide to finding the standard focal length is roughly the same as the diagonal measurement across the sensor:

  • A full frame sensor of 36mm x 24mm therefore would calculate a standard focal length of 43.3mm, which ties in with the agreed ‘standard’ between 40-50mm
  • So in my camera with a sensor size of 22.5mm X 15mm, would calculate out a standard focal length of 27mm.

I then thought back to what I found in the camera’s manual; taking the ‘focal length multiplier’ (1.6) into consideration.

Using this as a calculation I found the following:

  • For my camera to show the same angle of view as 50mm standard focal length it would work out as 31.25mm
  • I then took the calculated result of 43.3mm as being the standard from my first investigation with the 1.6 factor the result all fell into place with the 27mm result for my sensor!

The calculation in the course notes ties in exactly to what I found in the manual! Indicating my standard focal length being approximately 27mm 

Both of these methods appear to be in line with the course text and all other references I could find in books and the internet.

Having worked on some of the theory it was time to test this in line with the exercise.

NOTE: Unless relevant, (as in this exercise) I won’t routinely convert the values in relation to the FLM (Focal Length Multiplier); i.e. the focal length on my lens/EXIF may state 50mm; and although this relate to an angle of view of 80mm as used by a full frame camera. I will still write it as 50mm in my notes for continuity throughout the course.

The first part of the exercise states

‘Point the camera at any scene, and keep both eyes open – one eye looking through the viewfinder, the other looking directly at the scene. If the lens is approximately standard in focal length you should notice that the objects seen through one eye should appear to be about the same size as through your other eye. This is what is meant by standard.

However this is not what I found.

I first mounted the camera onto a tripod and set my 18-55mm (28-88mm equivalent) - lens to the ‘standard focal length’(as calculated earlier); There is a small dot on my lens that is marked at 28mm, which if taking into consideration the ‘calculations’ is approximate enough for the exercise.

Note: Not the most interesting of viewpoints (my back garden) but the ISO was fixed at 100 for all images in the exercise and the focus point was the right hand half coconut from the bird table.

I noted that looking through the viewfinder with one eye and keeping my other eye open on the scene I could see that objects in the viewfinder were NOT the same size. (below)

28mm Image

Aperture f/5.60

Shutter 1/8 sec 

Then Keeping the camera in the exact position on a tripod I increased the focal length to 55mm and checked the viewfinder again. This time objects ....appeared to be roughly the same size (An equivalent focal length of 88mm)!

The angle of view was smaller and the bird table appeared closer (below)

55mm Image

Aperture f/5.60

Shutter 1/6 sec 

I found the results from the first 2 shots interesting; as the theory (as well as all references I could find in my books and on the internet) from earlier indicated that my equivalent focal length would be approximately 27mm. The question text however suggested that ‘If the lens is approximately standard in focal length you should notice that the objects seen through one eye should appear to be about the same size as through your other eye; however that didn’t happen until the focal length was set at 55mm (88mm equivalent!) contradictory with the theory that my standard focal length would be about 27mm.

I continued with the exercise. Again leaving the camera in the same position I changed the focal length to its shortest focal length of 18mm, equivalent full frame focal length of 28.8mm (below)

18mm Image

Aperture f/5.60

Shutter 1/15 sec 

This was how I expected it. 18mm is the widest angle of view of this lens.

After taking these 3 shots, I printed them out onto A4 size plain paper. Then standing in the exact position that I took the images, I held them at eye level at a distance where the image appears to be the same size and noted the distance

18mm (28.8mm)

Holding the A4 size image at eye level and standing at the same position I found that I had to hold the image very close to my face around, 5-7 Inches, for it to be roughly the same size as what I could actually see.

Angle of view more and object further away

28mm (44.8mm)

This image was held at approx 12-14 inches from my face, which for me was the most comfortable / natural viewing distance; about the same as I would use for reading.

Angle of view natural

55mm (88mm)

For this image to appear the same size as the view I had to hold it at arms length, (even then it was still slightly ‘bigger’ on the A4 image). This was around 26-30 Inches from my face.

Angle of view less and object was closer

I found this exercise quite interesting. Maybe spending more time on it than necessary; however the question suggested (deliberate or not) something that didn’t fit with my initial findings around the ‘standard’ focal length.

Using the printed images established, (for me) that the image with the most comfortable (natural) viewing was taken at my standard focal length of 28mm (approximate to the calculated exercise of 27mm).

Difficult to tell conclude exactly because of peripheral vision, but I don’t believe that A standard focal length makes objects appear the same size in the camera's viewfinder as they appear through the other eye; I believe that the standard focal length is the angle of view similar (or most natural) to the way we see, which is what I found during the exercise.

Final conclusion: I’ve also added a composite of 3 shots on layered on top of each other, each taken at various focal lengths to demonstrate the ‘angle of view’ at different focal lengths.