How to Shoot Perfect Panning Shots of Motorcycles

 

Panning is a fun way of shooting fast moving objects. I myself took it a while to grasp the technique. It took me a while because I had been taught wrong. And no one told me the trade secrets behind it. Now finally I know how to execute it perfectly. Here I have put down a piece that should help you in upgrading your skill. Also original post I have published in MyBikeMyWorld.com

 Perfect panning shot

A perfect panning shot

Understanding the panning technique –

The mechanism is relatively simple than it looks. Mostly, those who know it perfectly have a tendency to tell it in a complex manner, making it sound difficult but once you understand what exactly happens inside the camera, you will be simply amazed to know that it’s a piece of cake!

There are four major aspects which control a panning shot — Shutter, Aperture, Focus Mode and ISO. Under good lighting conditions, any shutter speed above 1/60 freezes the shot while anything lower will capture a shake in the image. What you do while panning is, change the focus mode in the camera to ‘Continuous’ so that the focus point now follows the subject as it moves; through the lens, just follow the subject without letting it get out of  your camera’s view finder. This scenario allows you to sharply capture the primary subject with a pleasing motion blur in the background.

Clear around focus point but minute shake at the bottom

The image is clear around focus point but a minute shake at the bottom

In your first few shots you may not see the result but with practice anyone can master this technique. Composing it right is very important. In the beginning, you’ll find it difficult but once you start shooting, you’ll quickly learn and understand what’s really happening.

What equipment you’ll need?

A panning photograph can be taken from any camera which gives you control over the shutter speed function. You can either use a DSLR or a simple bridge camera. Looking at the quality of various camera products available in today’s time, a bridge camera can also be capable of generating an output which is very close to that of a DSLR.

The photos used in this article have been taken from –

  • Nikon D7000
  • Nikon P500

 


Professionals also use a tripod to get it done perfectly but this technique can also be executed handheld quite easily. Just a pair of steady hands is what you need.

Setting up your Camera –

You need to set up the control settings on your camera. A lot of depends on the lighting conditions present. Assuming it’s a sunny day with mild overcasts in the sky then the most successful setting is a shutter speed of 1/30, ISO 100 and since you’re are supposed to take the shot in shutter priority mode, (TV in Canon) your aperture value will be set automatically.

Now, here is something that most people forget. After completing the above settings, do not miss changing your focus mode to ‘Continuous’, present in Nikon or to ‘AI Servo’ in Canon.

What about the lens? The kit lens or any other having focal length of 18mm onwards will do just fine. A higher quality lens will increase the image and colour quality only yet, the panning technique can be executed by a simple standard kit or prime lens also. Having enough space in the memory card is a given fact. You will be shooting at least 20-25 photos to get that one perfect shot!

The technique once mastered, will allow anyone to take a panning photograph right in the first shot.

 Taken from a Bridge camera

Taken from a Bridge camera

How to Execute the Technique?

Many people ask expert photographers on how exactly the technique is executed and the replies they get are so technical to hear and understand that most of the times the photo enthusiasts land up with a bunch full of shaky images.

The technique is quite simpler than it looks. Just follow the below steps and you’ll surely get the shot you are imagining.

  1. When looking into the eyepiece/viewfinder hold the camera steady. Hold your breath for few seconds if it works for you.
  2. Assuming your focus point is in the centre, get your moving object in focus by looking through the view finder while pressing the shutter half down. Since you are in ‘Continuous’ focus mode, your camera focus point is locked on the moving subject so now you don’t have to refocus but just follow the subject.
  3. The moment the object comes close and you know this is where you want the image to be composed, just hit the shutter button BUT keep the camera following your object.
  4. Check the result, if not happy then shoot again.

 Result when camera not held on firmly

Result when camera not held on firmly

Quick Tips –

  • Holding the camera in a steady position is very important. While panning a shot if the camera moves cross or vertically then you’ll get a slight shake in your image.
  • Since you’ll be using a slower shutter speed, it’s best to keep your focal length under 40mm on the kit lens. (Different issue on prime or telephoto lens.)
  • Morning as well as the evening time is best to get quick results and pleasant colours.
  • Try to get a pattern background. If there are bushes or trees lined behind the subject, then the motion blur looks very significant. If just sky or few objects like buildings or random objects are in the background then the motion blur loses its charm at some places.

So, go on, try it out and if you still cannot get the one you have picturised, drop me a mail. I’ll be happy to help.

How To Prepare Your Motorcycle For the Leh Ladakh Ride

To make a successful motorcycle trip to Leh Ladakh one needs to have his bike in the best condition. If properly work done on the bike and cross checked thoroughly then a break is impossible. All you’ll need to focus on is your riding style and holding patience.

I have put down a quick piece on a checklist of things that should be in thorough inspection on your motorcycle.

Prepare Your Motorcycle for Ladakh Ride

Ladakh Ride is a dream of every biker

Ladakh, the home to the highest motorable road in the world – Khardung La, a well known area in the Himalayan region, a place that is visited by thousands of travel enthusiasts from all over the world, a paradise for bikers, needs no introduction.  But if you have made up your mind to go up there, don’t let anything stop you, especially not lack of preparation. There are two important aspects where you would need to prepare. One, the bike itself, and the other, your own strength – physical and mental!
Okay, so let’s take this step by step.

Preparing your Motorcycle

Despite however technologically advanced your motorcycle is, there are certain elements that have to go into making it — clutch, brakes, suspension, fluids, oil, tuning and various other particulars is what makes the bike. You have to make sure all these elements are in good condition to take on the path that leads to the highest motorable road in the world.

Prepare Your Motorcycle for Ladakh Ride

Rohtang Pass, located near Manali

Complex Mechanical Checks 

  1. Certain things in a motorcycle can only be ascertained by the mechanic. It’s best you have a word with the service-in charge at the service station, about your ride plan and get the Clutch Plates, Piston Rings and Timing Chain checked thoroughly. The engine performance should be up-to-date for a high altitude ride.
  2. Check the swing arm of the bike and the suspension — Replace the swing arm bush if necessary and ensure that the suspension is free and smooth.
  3. Con set, Chain – Sprockets, Air filter, Sparkplug, Electricals and Carburettor tuning or FI inspection comes next. It’s best to get a new air filter and spark plugs, a well tuned carb/ properly functioning FI system and battery with adequate life.

Easy Checks

  1. Check and replace if necessary: Clutch and Accelerator cable (Carrying the replaced one as spare is also a good idea).
  2. If any nuts, bolts, screws or connections are loose, ensure that they are all tightened and secured correctly.
  3. Brake pads, if worn out, or nearing there, require replacement. Carrying a new spare set would be advisable.
  4. Tyres are important aspects that need to be inspected. Have a look at the thread life and decide whether or not a new set might be needed. A puncture repair kit is a must-carry in your list.

Prepare Your Motorcycle for Ladakh Ride

Prepare Your Motorcycle for Ladakh Ride

On the Go Checks

  1. Ensure that the fluids and lubrication are up-to-the-mark. Carrying spare Lube Can is necessary as you’ll be covering 500+kms and chain will run dry rather quickly in the Himalayan region.
  2. Ensure that the lights, horn and indicators, are all in good working conditions. Hazard light, if a feature on your bike, may be a great help.
  3. Ensure that you check tyre pressure every 800-1000kms depending on the tyre type.
  4. Most importantly, ensure that you carry the tool set used for your bike. There will be moments when, though you might find a mechanic for your bike, in times of need, out there in the hills, they may not have any spares and tool set!
  5. Ensure that you carry a photo copy of your bike documents in the utility box or in space provided for small items under the seat.

Prepare Your Motorcycle for Ladakh Ride

You’ll cross many such streams on the highway to Leh

As Bullet Bose, a racer with near-legend status in the Indian biking community, says, “To know the true potential of your motorcycle you must know your motorcycle in and out.”

Not just for long trips but generally it’s a good thing if you know to fix minor issues in your bike. At least the basics like, checking the oil level in the engine, replacing clutch or accelerator cable, how to judge chain is loose, fix puncture, replacing bulbs, etc… Much depends on how much you can grasp and execute efficiently.

Prepare Your Motorcycle for Ladakh Ride

View of Leh from the Fort side

Must-Carry Essentials

  1. The four important documents: Original Driving license and PUC along with bike papers, valid insurance and registration.
  2. Your OEM toolkit, along with small scotch tape, small pen size torch for emergency, foot pump and puncture repair kit.
  3. A spare bike key, spare bungee cords, spare fuse, extra chain lock, spare clutch and accelerator cable, chain lube, if tube tyre then one spare tube, engine oil to top up and a spare headlight bulb.

Some Important Tips

  1. Never underestimate mountain roads.
  2. Expect the unexpected.
  3. Be prepared for sudden weather change.
  4. Respect the mountains; respect the road.
  5. Don’t be in haste; ride relaxed.
  6. Share experiences of any discomfort with fellow rider/s.
  7. Take care of self; take care of bike.
  8. Do not push yourself or the bike over the limit.
  9. Conserve water; it’s precious.

Prepare Your Motorcycle for Ladakh Ride

You’ll encounter many icy roads in the Ladakh Ride

Ride Safe and Take Care…

Also published in MBMW Emagazine March 2013.

Original post in MyBikeMyWorld.com

How to Prepare Physically for Leh Ladakh and Kashmir Bike Ride

The Ladakh season goes hot when the May month comes close. Everyone is ready to set out on an adventure trip of a lifetime. But before you wait for this day to come and start your preparation for ladakh trip, you need to be physically fit and strong to make everything happen.

Here are some insights on how to prepare physically for Leh Ladakh motorcycle trip.

Leh seen from the Old Fort
Leh seen from the Old Fort

 

It’s most important to evaluate your own physical condition before you decide to set out on a long ride, especially to a difficult terrain like Ladakh. You can prepare your bike or get your luggage packed in just matter of 2-3 days but physical strength and capacity for the ride requires larger efforts and focused attention consistently, over a period of time, and not overnight!

The most common problems faced by riders in Ladakh region – loss of appetite, difficulty digesting food, nausea, acute mountain sickness (AMS), fatique, dizziness, insomnia, shortness of breath upon exertion, nosebleed and drowsiness. It can get extremely difficult to move ahead even if a single problem attacks the rider.

These problems associated with riding in the mountains can be attacked only and only by increasing your strength, stamina and lung capacity.

Dr. Amit Girey, Mumbai based physiotherapist and fellowship in sports and science stresses on the importance of increasing one’s stamina for a Ladakh trip.

“Breathing technique plays an important role for optimising you’re riding and increasing your performance on the trail,” he explains. “Higher altitudes are always a matter of concern for a rider who starts panting and receives less oxygen,” he highlights.

These are a few things that one can practice to increase stamina.

Blowing balloons: Whether the trip is well planned or you are leaving in a hurry, you can always do this exercise of blowing balloons anywhere. It increases your lung capacity with enough oxygen to meet body needs.

Aerobic Exercises: Cycling, swimming and playing soccer is highly recommended to increase your breathing stamina.

Rhythmic breathing: Get your breathing in sync with pedalling, in the ration of 1:1. If that proves to be tough, you can try 1:2 and see what suits you best. Practice different combos, as it will help a great deal.

Mouth and Nasal breathing: People suffering from any nasal problems such as sinusitis or nasal congestion, should practice breathing through the mouth at higher altitude as they will then be able to move air rapidly and obtain a higher level of oxygenation.

Exercises: Try to increase anaerobic capacity through exercises like holding the breath for a while. You can practice this off your bike. Let your body get used to being under oxygen deprivation for a period of time. After a while, it will help you.

Physical preparation for the Ladakh
Physical preparation for the Ladakh ride should not be given a low priority

 

Despite physical preps, there is every chance that you feel sick while riding high altitudes for a long duration. There are medications, like Diamox, available that bikers often use to cure altitude sickness.

Says Dr. Waman Kale, Mumbai based physician from Sanjeevani Hospital, “Diamox may cause drowsiness and other side effects that can have multiple effects on you. It may affect your ability to ride, and you may even develop some skin rashes, itching or some unexplained reaction. You should always consume it under a doctor’s guidance only, and have it only if it is prescribed for you. Don’t be a doctor as you may not know the harm it can cause to your body. Those who consume it regularly under a doctor’s guidance should have a regular blood test to monitor the level of electrolytes.”

However, the only sure shot way to tide over difficult terrains, is to be fit and gear up with enough strength and stamina in the natural way.

This piece was also published in the MBMW Emagazine March 2013 issue.

Originally posted in MyBikeMyWorld.com