Panning the shot

Switching your camera to full manual or semi-manual mode, allows you to experiment in many creative ways. A prerequisite however is to have a basic understanding of the exposure triangle (ISO, Speed, Aperture) and how these 3 components can be used together to manipulate light.

Panning is a technique I’ve been itching to experiment with for a while now. Predominantly used in sports photography (and particularly car racing), this technique allows you to freeze a subject in motion while blurring the background. To achieve this effect, the subject should be moving laterally to your position, as was the case of this boy riding his bike on the beach in Ngapali Myanmar.

To shoot this photo, I switched my camera to speed priority (Tv on Canon cameras) – a setting which allows the photographer to manually adjust the shutter speed while letting the camera determine the appropriate aperture. Given how fast the boy was riding his bike, I dialled in an initial shutter speed of 1/25sec. I also switched the focus mode on my camera to AI Focus, which allows the camera to continually change focus as the subject is moving. I then tacked in my elbows holding the camera as closely as possible to my torso and followed the subject from right to left, taking a series of shots in burst mode.

Given that this was my first attempt at this technique, I can’t say I am disappointed. My dream however is to try this again perhaps in a Formula 1 or Nascar race!

Bicycle panning - 1920c

Shot handheld with my Canon 60D and Sigma 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 OS lens, at ISO 400, F6.3 at 1/25 sec.

Burmese Fisherman

It’s been almost a month since I wrote on my blog. That may not seem that long, but for me it feels like ages. I have a personal target of 2-3 posts a month just to keep my momentum going. Photography for me is a way of getting away from the rigors of every day life – a way to escape. Unless I impose targets on myself, it is easy to get caught in my daily routine and neglect the things that matter the most.

April has been a quite challenging month work-wise and that has caused me not only to put my hobby aside, but to also neglect people that matter in my life. It is inexcusable I know. The only saving grace is the thought that this is in a way an anomaly – a one time event soon to be over that won’t become a frequent occurrence.

This is a picture of a poor Burmese fisherman, who’s gone out at sunset to catch some fish to feed his family. He lives in a make-shift shelter near the village of Thandwe in Myanmar. It is a picture that helps me put a lot of what I mentioned in perspective.

Ngapali Fisherman - 1920c

Shot handheld with my Canon 60D and Sigma 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 OS lens, at ISO 800, F6.3 at 1/320 sec.

Ngapali Sunset

For a while now I’ve been itching to take a seascape shot at sunset, but never got around to it. I finally found the opportunity 2 weeks ago when I was on a business trip in Ngapali – a beach town on the west coast of Burma. Hearing prior to my trip that this location has one of the best beaches in the South East Asia region, I had my hopes high and thankfully I was not disappointed.

I generally try to travel light, but one of the compromises I never make is taking my trusty travel tripod – a key ingredient for this type of shots. Equally as key (though not 100% necessary), is a set of Neutral Density (ND) filters. For this shot I used a 3-stop solid ND filter to slow down my shutter speed, as well as a 2-stop ND grad filter to equalize the brightness of the sky with the foreground.

I arrived to take this shot about 20 minutes before sunset. As I was setting up my equipment knee-high in water, a young Burmese boy approached me and silently stood by, curious about what I was doing. I attempted to explain to him that I was taking a picture of the scenery but the response I got was a simple nod before he started pointing out the fish swimming in the water. He must have thought that my tripod was a fancy spear gun. I smiled in return knowing that it was all lost in translation.

Ngapali Sunset - 1920c

Shot with my Canon 60D and Sigma 10-20mm F4-5.6 DC HSM lens, at ISO 100, F22, 0.6secs, w/ 0.9 solid ND and 0.6 ND grad filters.

Buddhist monks

Tonight I am flying back to Myanmar, for what has now become a frequent destination. During this 2 week stay, I will get a chance to spend 5-days in Ngapali – a beach resort close to the town of Thandwe on the west coast of Myanmar. Pretty excited to be honest, because even though this will be a quite long and tiring trip, at least I will get the chance to unwind by the beach over the weekend.

With new destinations come new photo opportunities! From what I’ve read, the beaches there are really beautiful, and even though they are considered to be the best in the country, the political climate of the country has downplayed their popularity in the South East Asia region. My aim therefore this time around is to get some decent seascape pictures particularly during sunset and also portraits of the locals from the nearby fishing villages.

Below is a picture I took just over a year ago during my visit to a Buddhist monastery in the ancient city of Bagan. The young monks here wearing the traditional Buddhist red gowns are bringing food for their elders just in time for lunch.

Bagan priests - 1920c

Shot with my Canon 60D and Sigma 18-200 F3.5-6.3 OS lens, at ISO 200, F.5.0 @ 1/800 sec.