Raul’s Rules for Capturing Motion


Moving Bus On South Congress

Practice makes perfect as they say.  The shot above — which is by no means perfect — was the result of some practice attempts to capture the motion of an Austin Capitol Metro bus as it sped up South Congress Ave toward downtown.  I was taking a photo workshop and the main purpose in taking this shot (and a whole series of others like it) was to get better at capturing a subject going by and get it in focus.  Of course there were many other considerations like exposure, etc but mainly I wanted to practice the setup and the panning (handheld) of the camera.

I was using “Raul’s Rules for Motion” as I’ve taken to calling them.  A few hours before this shot was taken, Raul Touzon had explained to our photo workshop his method for doing shots like this.  Here are his rules:

1) 1/15s (or slower) shutter speed
2) Multi-frame mode
3) Pre-focus on subject’s path and turn off auto-focus
4) Shoot perpendicularly to the subject’s motion (ie the line between you and the pre-determined focus point is perpendicular to the subject’s travel path)
5) Follow the subject to get in a rhythm (lock onto its motion) and start shooting before it reaches the point you focused on

For the workshop critique we had to present images straight out of the camera but here I’m showing one post-edit.  I played with all sorts of tweaks and settled on this treatment.  Here’s basically what I did (all using Lightroom):  B+W…some vignette, mild clarity and contrast adjustments, and used the adjustment brush to add a bunch of contrast and clarity to the bus.  I added extra clarity to the cross walk lines to highlight them a bit as well.  There are some weird streaks in the top of the image — maybe a bird in the frame?  Not sure, but it adds to the mystery of all the background blur.

This shot didn’t have perfect execution — I would prefer that the bus was a bit sharper — but I like it anyway.  I like the how the cross walk lines lead to the bus and how the circular motion can be seen in the street in the foreground — exaggerated by the 15mm focal length that was used.  The bus stands out just like it is supposed to as well.  I’ll certainly experiment with this type of shot again.

Other posts (from me) about Raul Touzon’s workshops: https://michaeltuuk.wordpress.com/2010/04/27/my-first-photo-workshop-experience/https://michaeltuuk.wordpress.com/2011/03/01/raul-touzons-portable-sun-workshop/, https://michaeltuuk.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/zipping-by/


7 responses

  1. I really like this bus shot. It looks like you panned with the bus though because it’s fully in focus whereas the background isn’t. I dig the contrast too.

    May 3, 2010 at 8:49 am

  2. Nice work, Michael! I’ll have to keep those ‘rules’ in mind next time I try something like this.

    May 3, 2010 at 9:24 am

  3. this photo is great!!


    May 3, 2010 at 10:59 am

  4. Thanks, everyone! I did pan with the bus (my writing probably isn’t all that clear…). Even doing that it took a bit of practice to get anything remotely in focus.

    I’m headed out of town in the morning but I’m going to check out your blogs when I get back!

    May 3, 2010 at 9:00 pm

  5. Pingback: Flash: The Portable Sun… in San Francisco! « ZONA FOTO

  6. Pingback: Zipping By « Michael Tuuk Photography

  7. Pingback: Raul Touzon’s Portable Sun Workshop « Michael Tuuk Photography

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