Shooting Challenge: Velocity

Illustration for article titled Shooting Challenge: Velocity

A while ago, we challenged you to capture motion blur. This week, we're upping the ante. Your subject will be in motion, but it's the background of the shot that will blur into obscurity.


The Challenge

Take a photo of something in motion, capturing it completely sharp with the background in a blur. But we're not looking for soft bokeh effects. We specifically want you to imply velocity through the background.

The Method

There are two ways one can pull of such a feat, both with the same end goal. You need your camera to be tracking your subject—not just sitting still, locked down on a tripod, but matching or attempting to match your subject's movement.

You can hold your camera and pan the camera during the exposure. There's a handy flickr forum on this technique, and member FullFramePhotography summarizes the technique succinctly:

Both hands on the camera, right one at the 3 o'clock position, the left supporting your lens at the 6 o'clock position. Start from one extreme and begin tracking the subject in a smooth horizontal motion. When you release the shutter, keep panning in the same direction, as if to follow through. This helps keep your motion smooth. Your whole upper body is involved in the movement, hips included. It takes lots of practice and patience. Short of that, you might need to use a monopod, or tripod with a good pan head.


To nail a smooth pan, always start from your destination, rewind yourself into your starting position and then execute the pan. It'll feel 1000x more natural—especially important for video production.

The other option is to be in a vehicle or something that matches velocity of your subject—which is exactly how our lead example shot was executed by flickr member peasap.


The Rules - READ THESE

1. Submissions need to be your own.
2. Photos need to be taken the week of the contest.
3. Explain, briefly, the equipment, settings, technique and story behind shot.
4. Email submissions to, not me.
5. Include 800px wide image (200KB or less) AND a 2560x1600 sized in email. (The 800px image is the one judged, so feel free to crop/alter the larger image for wallpaper-sized dimensions.)
6. One submission per person.
7. Use the proper SUBJECT line in your email (more info on that below)


Send your best photo by Monday, August 30th at 8AM Eastern to with "Velocity" in the subject line. Save your files as JPGs, and use a FirstnameLastnameVelocity.jpg (800px wide) and FirstnameLastnameVelocityWallpaper.jpg (2560px wide) naming conventions. Include your shooting summary (camera, lens, ISO, etc) in the body of the email along with a story of the shot in a few sentences. And don't skip this story part because it's often the most enjoyable part for us all beyond the shot itself!

If you like Shooting Challenges, you may also like my new site: Life, Panoramic. Today, we actually have an entry from a mystery Gizmodo writer.


Click to view



I took this shot of my greyhound years ago... Not eligible for the contest, but I still like the photo.