Panning for gold / by Mario Mirabile

On the occasions I've visited Sovereign Hill, (a gold rush era theme park), I've had great fun panning for gold. Over the course of a couple of hours squatting by a muddy artificial stream, my daughter and I collected a few tiny specs of precious metal. We thought this a great reward for our labour, despite the real value of our hoard more likely to be counted in cents than dollars. Such is the lure of the yellow metal.

I've had less success over the years panning with my camera. I've never had the knack of smoothly following my moving subject and squeezing the shutter at the right instant. When I examine my attempts closely, they indicate I have a tenancy to pause momentarily as I take the shot, which destroys the sense of motion a panned shot is intended to convey. I had an opportunity to practice my technique when panning was suggested as a topic for our weekly photo walk. I sought advice from the experts (image stabilization off, swivel from the hips, use burst mode), and can see some improvement in the results, but still no gold. Perhaps I should stick to muddy creeks.

Tech talk
The usual heavy city traffic both helped and hindered my efforts. When potential subjects were moving, the generally weren't moving too quickly, but the congestion also ensured blocked sight-lines and a general lack of movement. In the end, I decided to focus on people after quickly becoming bored with moving cars. People aren't ideal panning subjects as they have a lot of moving parts, and they tend to move in the vertical as well as horizontal plane, but it can still look interesting if their faces end up reasonably sharp. 

Even in overcast conditions, I had trouble keeping a low shutter speed, so I'll make sure I have a polarizer handy next time I try this. Mostly, thoughh, I need to practice more.

Olympus E-30, Zuiko Digital 50-200mm f2.8-3.5 SWD.