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Thread: Total Beginner

  1. #1

    Default Total Beginner

    I've never used anything more than a point and shoot camera and to be honest normally use my phone if I'm out and about. However I've just bought a bridge camera. A Panasonic Lumix LZ20 Camera - Black 3 inch LCD: Camera & Photo@@AMEPARAM@@ I know it's not the best camera going but for 85 I don't expect the best.

    I'm off to the Isle of Man to watch the TT (Motorbike Racing) next month and was after any tips to capture quick motion other than a fast shutter speed and a stable camera. Are there any books that are particularly good for an absolute novice or is it a a case of finding out as you go? I've bought the camera specifically for the TT to be honest but will use it when fishing and for general photography.

    Any tips at all are massively appreciated.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Total Beginner

    Quote Originally Posted by heed View Post
    I'm off to the Isle of Man to watch the TT (Motorbike Racing) next month...

    What you really need is advice from guys who shoot motorsports, and you might do better asking on some of the many photography forums. I'll have a bash at giving you some help in case no one else on here can do any better then me. But please be aware that I'm just going to wing it, based on experience of shooting fish, and shooting pheasant shooters, birds in flight, galloping deer, and stuff like that, rather than bikes

    I had a quick look at the spec of your camera. It has P(rogram) mode, and M(anual) mode, so between these you should be able to control the shutter speed. Shutter speed is the key for a lot of this sort of stuff. The spec I am a bit unsure about is your camera's ability to change focus with changing distance between it and the target. It mentions servo for movie mode, and a 'tracking' feature, but I am not sure what this means. You certainly want to get this sorted out. You want to be able to line up the shot so the camera can focus on a moving target and correct the focus 'on the fly' as the target moves closer to you or further away from you.

    The bike photos you see taken by pro photographers that make you go "Wow" tend to be those where the bike is pin sharp, but the spokes are blurred and the background is blurred. To get this, the photogapher is 'panning' - tracking the bike with the camera, and using a shutter speed that is both fast enough to freeze the bike and allow for being slightly less than perfect, but is also slow enough to blur the background - which is moving relative to the moving camera.

    The ideal speed is going to be trial and error, depending on how close you are standing to the bike, how far behind the background is, and how accurately you can pan ths shot. As a guide, 1/500s is fast enough to freeze a bird in flight, all except the wing-tips...

    I should point out the background there is blurred due to depth of field, not shutter speed.

    1/500s is also fast enough to catch the shot from a 12-guage in mid-air...

    I suspect this might be your upper limit of 'fastness'. It will freeze the bike if you pan well, but it might freeze the background too. So, how much slower you can go will depend on your abilities and all the other factors. Trial and error with digital costs nothing, so I would suggest taking a walk up to your local main road and have a go at photographing passing cars. It will get your eye in and you can try panning slower, and slower to see what you can get away with. Try shooting at the same sort of distance you will be standing from the bikes. See if you can catch a car sharp at 1/500, then 1/250s, then 1/125, then 1/60. If you can get a good sharp shot panning at 1/60, I guarantee you will have a blurred background .

    But make sure you sort out that focus tracking thing...

    If being able to track focus isn't possible - and it occurs to me that I have heard pros mention this one... try this as an alternative... Pre-focus the camera on a chosen spot in the road (usually a case of half-pressing the shutter buton). Then as the bike comes past (while panning) take the shot as the bike hits your mark. Whether the camera tries to refocus or not, it should be right there, but if you can find something in the menus to give priority to taking the shot over spending time focusing first, it will help for this technique.

    I did all my leaping salmon shots last year using the pre-focus method...

    Hope that helps, if only a little.

    Good luck - let us see the results

    Last edited by Cap'n Fishy; 05-05-2013 at 05:09 PM.
    Please note that any views expressed in this post may be those of the
    originator and do not necessarily reflect those of the reader.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Total Beginner

    Massive thanks Col. I really mean that. I didn't expect such an in depth and helpful reply so soon. When the camera arrives I'll give it a go locally with traffic as you say. I'm not expecting ground breaking shots with a basic camera and my lack of knowledge but what you said makes sense and should help. I hadn't considered trying the camera out before heading to the Isle of Man. I'll try a photography forum too, this place is friendly and helpful but I understand the need for specialisation. I'll probably try some fishing photography in the near future too. I'll also look into the tracking feature on the camera.

    Thanks again, it's hugely appreciated.

    That image of the shot on its way to the pheasant is stunning.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Total Beginner

    Quote Originally Posted by heed View Post
    Massive thanks Col.
    Nae bother. You replied while I had an afterthought and went back in to add the bit on using the pre-focusing technique, so check that bit out as well.

    Please note that any views expressed in this post may be those of the
    originator and do not necessarily reflect those of the reader.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Total Beginner

    Ha ha. I saw that and thought I'd been ignorant and not read it the first time I looked through the thread. That salmon shot is absolutely brilliant.

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