Tips and Tricks from Module 5 Editor’s Picks: “Time”

Imagine That Photography Tribe

The camera can be told to take a picture of time.

That’s what the Imagine That Photography Tribe proved this week with their images. The assignment was to use shutter speed to create photos of motion, implying the passing of time. We used the techniques of panning and slow shutter exposures to make our images.

Here are the highlights of what we learned.

1. Panning can be done in bright light, with some adjustments.


Imagine That Photography Tribe
Copyright Einstein Lavina 2012.

These two photos, above and below, show some shadows, and the shadows indicate where the light is coming from.

Imagine That Photography Tribe
Copyright David Ng Soon Thong

The first photo shows a shadow directly below the subject, so this photo was taken during the middle of the day, when the light is brightest.  In the second photo, the shadows are in the foreground, telling us that the light is directly in front of the camera, behind the panned subjects.

Panning during the middle of the day might result in a photo with blown out highlights. The slow shutter allows so much light in, since the shutter is left open longer, that the highlights are able to reflect too much light into the lens.

How could we use the panning in the middle of the day? To reduce the light coming into the lens, we can do these things:

  • Use a Neutral Density filter to block out some of the light, resulting in a better exposure.
  • Use a polarizing filter, which has the same effect, except the filter is blue instead of gray.
  • Convert the photo to a black and white, to hide the blown out highlights.

2. Water is hard to expose with a slow shutter, except when you can control light.

Imagine That Photography Tribe
Copyright Ker Geok Lan 2012.

These two slow shutter shots were taken when the light was still bright. We can see that the cameras had a bit of trouble holding on to detail in the whites or highlights. This is also because the shutter is left open for longer, allowing more light in, resulting in the whites in the scene reflecting too much light.

Imagine That Photography Tribe
Copyright Einstein Lavina 2012.

The solutions would be to use Neutral Density filters, a small aperture (f/22 if possible), and a tripod.

3. Panning can be done in a non- linear motion.

Cynthia made a comment about her photo of the skater, How could she have panned this shot when the motion was not linear?

Imagine That Photography Tribe
Copyright Cynthia Swidler 2012.

Vincent gave us the answer to Cynthia’s question. Changing the point of view and using a slow shutter for the same motion as the subject can result in a non-linear technique.

Imagine That Photography Tribe
Copyright Vincent Ng 2012.

4. Different shutter speeds are necessary for panning different moving objects.

In the Module, it was suggested that all things being equal, walking people usually render sharp in the image at around 1/15s, and motorbikes or slow moving cars around 1/30s. Schalk’s photo of a fast moving car is a little blurred because probably the shutter speed was a little slow for the subject. This teaches us to experiment with different shutter speeds for different subjects, to make the subject sharp in the photo using panning technique.

Imagine That Photography Tribe
Copyright Schalk Ras 2012.


Sarah’s photo of the swinging boy shows us that she focused on his face as she panned back and forth. The boy’s face is the sharpest part of the photo.

Imagine That Photography Tribe
Copyright Sarah Darr 2012.

5. Panning and slow shutter make colors pop in low light.

Imagine That Photography Tribe
Copyright Vincent Ng 2012.

Vincent’s photo of a parade at night is bursting with color. The slow shutter allowed the night lights to blend in the blur as he panned the people.

6. Change the lens, change the image.

Finally, we learn that a particular focal length can change the image. This photo of star trails (during a very cold night!) was shot with a zoom at the long end. The long lens caused an effect that seems to ‘flatten’ the elements in the frame.  Had Sarah chosen a wider frame by using a different lens, she might have got a different effect in the photo.


Imagine That Photography Tribe
Copyright Sarah Darr 2012.

What I learned from the Tribe from Module 5 is to constantly experiment with techniques and equipment, to get different results. Then, learn from the results. Yay to the Tribe! I hope you will continue to practice your slow shutter technique and panning, and have fun with your interpretations of motion and time.

How would you like to learn photography one module at a time? Head over to our Facebook page and Like us so you can be updated every time a module is posted. Share your photos and get some feedback. And get a chance to have your photos featured in Editor’s Picks posts and a monthly wrap up of lessons!

Welcome back and thanks for reading Imagine That! To keep updated with new posts, subscribe to Imagine That! by clicking on the RSS Feed button on the upper right of the Homepage.

You might also like:
11 Ways to Build a Better Photo
10 Online Resources for Photography Enthusiasts

The Beginner’s Guide to Photography’s Holy Trinity


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.Required fields are marked *