Photo of the Day / Photo Tip: Pan Action Livens the Activity – November 21, 2009

Adding action to your shots – Tip for turning boring into interesting.

You will have a lot of chances to see baboons.  Sometimes they are giving you some great action as they fight or groom or mate.  Other times, all they are doing is passing through the bush.  In these cases you have a few problems.  First, the animals are fairly camouflaged as their coloration blends well with the bush.  Additionally, even if the background was not distracting, a primate walking is not particularly interesting.  Below is a shot that illustrates both points.

Baboon walking in the bush - copyright 2009: Justin Eleazer

Baboon walking in the bush - copyright 2009: Justin Eleazer

In a recent trip to Chobe, my son saw this problem, and overcame the problem by attempting a series of ‘pan action’ shots.  A pan action is when one slows down the shutter speed and (with the camera in AI Servo mode) focuses on the moving subject.  The shutter speed doesn’t even have to be that slow.  The image below was shot at 1/40 sec.  (f/22).  While you may lose some of the detail in this type of photo, you gain sooooo much more with the action of movement.

Baboons Crossing the Road - copyright 2009 Justin Eleazer

Baboons Crossing the Road - copyright 2009 Justin Eleazer

Photo Tip:

  • Pan action shots can minimize background distraction/clutter
  • Pan action shots can turn routine activity like animals walking into a more dynamic situation.
  • Pan action requires steady horizontal pan with a shutter speed from 1/40 to 1/15 second.

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