Today, the photo that I want to share with you is a photo of a Shinkansen train. For those who don't know what a Shinkansen is, it's the Japanese railroad network for the famous high-speed "Bullet Train". Here it is:
I took this picture in mid-2014 during vacation. By that time, my setup was a Canon EOS M with Tamron 17-55mm f/2.8 non-VC. This means auto-focus is very slow, and I often focus my lenses using hyperfocal distances and shoot with quite small aperture (f/8, f/11) to get-around using autofocus.
The concept of this picture is to capture the train while it's moving, and to have a sensation of movement by using motion panning technique.
Let's get down to it!
Camera SettingFirst thing first, my camera setting is Aperture Priority(A or Av) with aperture around f/10, shutter speed on auto, and ISO 100.
Definitely, the shutter speed isn't slow enough at f/10 because the EXIF says it's 1/160sec. Ideally you'll want less than 1/60sec, but going above f/10 will introduce diffraction which will soften the image and dust spots on the sensor which will require editing.
TechniqueI first began by anticipating which direction would the train go to. After watching a few trains passing by, I knew that it would go from left to right on the furthest rail-line. I focused my camera on the railroad, just right in front of where the train is at in the picture, and hoping that the depth of field will be sufficient to cover the train in focus.
Then, when the train came, I panned the camera from left to right, trying to keep the cockpit glass on the center of the frame as a reference to where I should aim while panning, hoping that the shutter speed is enough to motion-blur anything but the train.
The main thing that I need to emphasize here is the panning itself. With motion-panning, you will have to really "follow" the subject's motion with your camera as precise as possible to avoid motion-blurring your subject. You want to just strictly motion-blur anything but the subject. Use a reference point on the subject (eye, cockpit glass, steering wheel) and try your best to keep that reference point on the same spot on your frame while you're panning.
How To Improve?I should use slower shutter speed and gain greater motion-blur effect on the image, but the ambient light was too bright for that. To improve this picture, you could probably use a 2-stop ND filter when you have one ready at your hands and have slower shutter speed at the same setting, or simply shut the aperture to f/16 at the risk of getting a diffraction and get a slightly softer image. When the moment hits, it's up to your artistic call, you'll have to compromise anyway so choose which one that you'll sacrifice to get the image: the sharpness because of the diffraction, the motion blur of the ambient because of the higher shutter speed, or the money and time for buying the ND and screwing it on the lens. Obviously, at that time I chose the motion blur to get this picture.
I cropped the top and the bottom of the image, because I want the aspect ratio to be wider than 3:2. This is mainly done to help emphasizing the physical length of the train. Don't worry about cropping your image, I know that it's preferable that you can have the composition done in the camera, but that doesn't mean you can't artistically improve it by cropping it a little bit.
Processing in Lightroom was quite minimal, I mostly just reduce the black by -10, add the white by +10, add some shadow, reduce a slight highlight, and add clarity by around +20, and a very slight saturation to the whole image. There is a little bit of noise reduction and sharpening going on, but nothing crazy.
That's all for this image, stay tuned for the next post of "How I Shoot It"! I hope you found this post helpful. Cheers and God bless you!