Hanson | Photo • Design: Blog https://www.hansonphotodesign.com/blog en-us (C) Hanson | Photo • Design (Hanson | Photo • Design) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:55:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:55:00 GMT https://www.hansonphotodesign.com/img/s/v-12/u1072380357-o746700266-50.jpg Hanson | Photo • Design: Blog https://www.hansonphotodesign.com/blog 93 120 Sylvan Island Revisited 03.20.16 https://www.hansonphotodesign.com/blog/2016/3/sylvan-island-revisited-03-20-16 If you aren’t familiar with Sylvan Island, it is host to some of the most unique mountain biking and hiking trails in the Quad Cities area.  I’d even hazard a guess it's unique in this respect at the national level.  A non-intersecting loop of 4 miles could be stitching together from the maze like network of trails on the island.  These trails pass through a variety of distinctive terrain and man made features.  A few notable examples being: industrial rubble, grasslands, a section of brick road, lowland forests, piles of slag, river shoreline, and numerous concrete loading docks.  The island has a strong industrial history. From around 1900 until 1956 it was the site of the Republic Steel mill which supplied steel/iron to local industry. Many foundations and structures from the mill still exist today and bring a lot of character to the area.  Sylvan was also the site of a small limestone quarry and an ice harvesting operation before the dawn of refrigeration.  Relics of the island’s industrial heritage, return of forest and wildlife, and the trails that bring these elements together are what make Sylvan Island such an appealing public space.

The main limestone paths on Sylvan Island are disappearing from lack of maintenance and use. Closed pedestrian bridge in the background.

Next month will mark the third anniversary of the pedestrian bridge closure which provided the only public point of access to the island.  While the island itself remains open to the public, the lack of a functional bridge has effectively closed the island to a majority of its previous users.  The +100 year old bridge was closed in April 2013 after concerns about its structural integrity came to light after an inspection.  I posted a previous blog entry about the island back in Aug. 2013 showing the island in a similar overgrown, albeit much greener, state.  Not much has changed in those three years, but here is an overview of the current state of the island (with plenty of photos). Click here to view the whole gallery. Photos are captioned for more info as well.

Woody plants starting to invade the previously mowed entry to the island.

We started on the northeast shore and gained access via boat near the hydroelectric dam. Walking around the island and zigzagging between crushed limestone paths and singletrack trails we managed to cover a good chunk of the property.  Overall, people, a very very small number, still seem to be using the island. However, perhaps not in the intended way.

Approaching the island from the east (upriver) side.

Under the power transmission tower on the northeast corner of the island were significant amounts of new garbage.  This area appears to see the most visitors to the island.  A couple abandoned tents, sleeping bags, and blankets were scattered around the space and slowly being covered by leaves.  An interesting log sun shade(?) was stacked onto one leg of the tower and large logs were arranged on the ground as benches for seating.  The usual fire ring was directly under the tower but hadn’t housed a fire recently. Lots of garbage (sleeping bags, old tents, & blankets) littered the eastern edge of the island.

We stumbled into a temporary camp near the hog trough ruins just west of the central limestone path/loading docks.  A very primitive setup: simple camouflage tarp canopy, bedroll neatly tucked underneath, and a pile of grass for a sleeping mat.  Like any proper campsite, a small stack of firewood and a still smoldering pile of coals were just a few feet away. Nobody was home though. It looked like the site had been occupied for at least a few days.

We weren't the only ones on the island that day. Campfire was still warm.

Only a few more signs of activity were noted around the island interior. Mainly two recently used fire rings (one with a stockpile of firewood) and new graffiti on concrete pier ruins.  The amount of visible litter was low and that we did find was faded and probably around before the bridge closure.  We stumbled upon a shattered toilet near an eastern concrete foundation. There always seems to be a broken toilet on Sylvan Island for some reason.

More evidence there are still some people using the island.

Other than these areas, there were minimal signs people had been using the island. No signs of trail use. No disturbed leaves on trails. No attempts to clear downed trees.

Not much new at the hog chute. Here is a similar photo from back in 2013

In the clearing on the southern edge of the island, sumac plants are starting to make the most of plentiful sunlight.  A few plants were at least 15 feet tall (growing about 5 feet per year?).  Pretty impressive. Maybe they have mutated and found a way to use the islands “special” soil to their advantage.

Sumac plants growing in the main entry way are getting big. Probably 15 feet tall. Typical Sylvan Island "dirt." Many areas on the eastern half of the island are littered with slag. This byproduct of steel/iron production was created during the era of the Republic Steel mill.

Benches and tables were shedding paint which added greatly to the abandoned/post-apocalyptic theme.  Other structures were in surprisingly good condition. The entry pavilion, dedication plaque, and FORC bike rack sculpture were in a similar state as when the bridge closed.

Paint peeling off of a bench.

A little more graffiti than before.

Most of the singletrack mountain bike and hiking trails are now completely covered by a thick layer of leaves and largely blocked by fallen trees and branches.  Once the plants begin to leaf out, it would be very difficult to follow/find these old trails.  The main limestone paths were also becoming very difficult to distinguish from the surrounding grasses.

Overgrown trail running along the limestone hill at the east end of the island. This massive Cottonwood tree looked recently fallen. There's a trail there somewhere.

Grasses and larger plants taking over the entrance.

We visited a notable feature on the singletrack trails: the shingle bridge.  It was installed to cross a low spot where flood waters and pooling rain inundated the trails each spring.  The bridge has finally succumbed to the elements.

Only one section of the shingle bridge remains in place.

The shingle bridge is no more. Floods and fallen trees have broken it into a few pieces.

Moline is in the process of replacing the ageing bridge and reconnecting the community to the island. They have secured funding for the project but there have been significant delays due to an environmental assessment study involving endangered mussels in the slough below the bridge.  Recent reports state the mussel study is to commence in 2017 and the new bridge may be on track to reopen by 2018.  Judging the condition of the trails at this point, they will take a lot of clearing work to reopen. This may add an additional few of months of wait time for trail users anxious to get back to running, riding, and hiking the singletrack on the island. 

On a positive note, it’s clear the community has not forgotten about Sylvan Island.  In the local outdoors community, it’s common to hear people discussing when the old bridge is going to be replaced.  Additionally, there are several local groups with long standing ties to the island.  The Sylvan Island Dreamers, River Action, and Friends of Off-Road Cycling (FORC) all worked to improve the property before access was limited and if anything the bridge closure may serve to strengthen their resolve to further this goal. There will undoubtedly be a large volunteer effort to get the trails reestablished ASAP once the new bridge is completed.

Newer graffiti on one of the concrete ruins towards the east side of the island.

Be sure to check out the rest of the photos by clicking this link.

(Hanson | Photo • Design) IL Illinois Mississippi River Moline Sylvan Island overgrown trails update https://www.hansonphotodesign.com/blog/2016/3/sylvan-island-revisited-03-20-16 Sun, 27 Mar 2016 12:06:06 GMT
Sylvan Island Returning to Nature https://www.hansonphotodesign.com/blog/2013/8/sylvan-island-returning-to-nature It has been nearly four months since the city of Moline closed the bridge providing access to Sylvan Island and nature has already started the reclamation process. A friend and I decided to check out the island last Sunday to see how it had changed with little to no human involvement. We landed on the eastern shore by boat and did a quick hike to assess the condition of the trails. It was a short trip and we mainly stuck to the perimeter and doubletrack trails but still managed to duck into the singletrack in a few areas.

Almost immediately it was evident not many people had been on the island since the bridge was closed. The park is technically still open to the public but without easy access most people have been forced to choose other areas to recreate. Many of the limestone paths were overgrown with weeds and the previously mowed areas were starting to look like a prairie restoration project.  Surprisingly, many of the biking trails were still quite clear from overgrowth in areas where the thick canopy blocked out sunlight.  Areas not shaded by the canopy had experienced rapid regrowth of small trees, shrubs, and grasses and the trails had nearly disappeared.

So, are the trails still in usable condition? I suppose that depends on your preferred activity.  The trails are not in condition for serious riding at this point because of a number of downed trees/branches and flood debris requiring dismounts to pass.  If you aren't worried about the logs and faceslappers, then maybe the face hugging spider webs every 20 feet will convince you otherwise.  However, most tails are still very hikeable. Just remember to pick up a stick to fend off the spiderwebs. Runners could still probably enjoy most of the gravel paths but with so many other options available, not requiring a boat ride, they will probably choose to run elsewhere.

I made sure to take plenty of photos to properly convey the condition of the island; a few of the better ones are posted below. To view the full gallery of images follow the link: Sylvan Island Returning to Nature


Looking towards the Moline shoreline across the closed Sylvan Island bridge.From the Other Side

Looking back at the Moline shoreline through locked gates.

Fence panel with barbed wire blocking access to the Sylvan Island bridge. Moline Shore Trail
Chain link fence and barbed wire to prevent using the bridge. Overgrown path on the southwest corner of the island.


Grass doesn't stop growing.


Overgrown Path

Main crushed limestone paths are starting to disappear.


Metal sculpture on the island.


Northwest corner of the island.


Loading dock trailLoading Dock

Loading dock trails are still mostly clear.


Vines growing across an unused trail.Tendrils

Vines growing across a previously high traffic trail.


Creeping Charlie Its a Jungle in There
Trails are completely covered by Creeping Charlie and other ground cover plants in some areas. Person sized trees and shrubs growing over the trail on the northeast corner of the island.


Sprawling Shrubs Flood debris covering the crushed limestone path west shore of the island.The West Shore
Interior trails show heavy overgrowth in areas. Flood debris still covering the crushed limestone path on the western shore of the island.


Colorful grafiti covers an otherwise drab urban canvas.

Layers of colorful graffiti cover an otherwise drab brick and concrete canvas.


 Graffiti reading: "Joke"

More graffiti on the east shore.

(Hanson | Photo • Design) Sylvan Island bridge hiking https://www.hansonphotodesign.com/blog/2013/8/sylvan-island-returning-to-nature Tue, 20 Aug 2013 14:07:35 GMT
Canon 550D/T2i Shutter Replacement Overview https://www.hansonphotodesign.com/blog/2012/8/canon-550d/t2i-shutter-replacement-overview Canon T2i 550D err 20 error messageErr 20 What is the lifespan of the shutter mechanism in a Canon T2i/550D? About 200,000 cycles it appears. (200k is incorrect, it was closer to 137k actuations in this particular case. We didn't have a way to read the count on the camer and tried to estimate based on the file naming scheme of the photos, which was way off.) That was the shutter count at the time ours stopped working.   The published lifecycle for a 7D shutter is 150K cycles and I would reason it to be higher than the 550D.  Not a bad showing for the 550D especially since we didn’t baby it.

I have to assume shutter longevity depends greatly on how heavily the camera is used because of the petite construction of the moving shutter parts (they have to be light because they must move quickly, F=ma, etc.).  This camera saw heavy use.  It was our time lapse workhorse and also spent quite a few hours mounted to a mountain bike shooting HD video over rough terrain.  It even joined in during a few crashes on the bike.  Additionally, it was stuck to a windshield on time lapse duty while driving on rocky roads traveling through Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico.  A few times the suction cup let go and it bounced around on the dash but it always kept clicking away.

The failure traces back to one of the rivets which held the individual plastic shutter blades to the actuating linkages (photo).  The rivet was pulled through the plastic blade.  This allowed a blade to come loose and move about freely within the shutter housing assembly creating some odd photos.  It didn’t get jammed right away, as is evident in the previous photo, but I kept messing with it until it did.  It didn’t damage anything further, but resulted in an “Err 20” message on the cameras LCD screen and a total lockdown of the camera.  To see all the images from the teardown and repair process check out the gallery: Canon 550D/T2i Teardown & Shutter Repair

The 550D is a good backup camera and we missed having it for the few months we neglected repairing it.  Last week we ordered a replacement shutter box off of EBay which claimed to be an OEM replacement part for $55.  Also for sale was the individual shutter blades which fit into the shutter box ($15 + S&H).  These would have also fixed this particular problem but would have been more work.  The gears and motor in the old shutter assembly didn’t appear to be worn significantly which leads me to believe a set of replacement blades would result in another ~200K 140K actuations.

I repaired the tripod mounting screw on this camera a few months after we purchased it due to one of the before mentioned bike mounted incidents.  Tip: don’t mount this camera with a 1lb wide angle lens to a ¼-20 stud + quick clamp and attach it to the handlebars of a bike!  At least I knew how to get the case off thanks to that experience.

The flash capacitor in a Canon 550D T2i will literally shock the crap out of you.Flash Capacitor Disclaimer: If you feel uncomfortable taking apart your camera to attempt the following repair, do not proceed.  There are many small fragile parts located under the thin plastic shell that can be easily broken by any and all ham fisted actions.  There is also an electrocution hazard when dealing with the flash capacitor and related circuitry (at least 300VDC). Discharge the capacitor with a resistive load avoiding a direct short circuit because it can damage the camera.  If shocked, it probably won’t kill you, but you will feel pain, probably be burned, and will flail about involuntarily possibly injuring yourself in the process.   There are also components inside which can be damaged by ESD (electrostatic discharge).  Don’t attempt this repair while wearing wool socks during your jazzercise routine on carpet in a dry climate. If you are worried about ESD, wear a grounding bracelet and take the proper precautions when handling sensitive components.

Tools required for repairing Canon 550D T2i shutterTools Needed For Disassembly and Repair

Tools Needed:

  • Mini Philips/Flat screwdriver set
  • T-7 Torx bit and driver
  • Tweezers (for manipulating tiny objects)
  • Soldering Iron and Solder
  • Pen and Paper (for taking notes)
  • Notecard (folded in half with holes poked through it to organize the screws)
  • Lint Free Non-abrasive wipes (i.e. Pec-Pads)
  • No Residue Cleaning Solution (100% Methyl/Ethyl Alcohol)


Organizing the screws from disassembling a Canon 550D T2iAll Screws Removed During Disassembly It is very important to keep detailed notes of what screw/ribbon cable/ connector went where.  If you have the luxury of having multiple cameras, I suggest using the operational camera to document the disassembly process.  Use a notecard with holes punched in it to hold all of the screws removed from the body and number them (see photo to the left).  Label where each screw went and what it was for.  Many screws which have the same head have different lengths, diameters, and thread specifications and it is important to put them back where they belong to ensure there are no interferences or stripped threads.  Tip: when replacing the screws, start threading them into their respective holes counterclockwise (loosening motion) until they engage the existing threads.  This makes them much easier to screw back in and will reduce the potential for stripping the internal threads.

Firstly, remove any lenses, the battery, the CF card, and the neck strap.  Install the protective cover over the lens mounting plate on the camera.

Canon T2i / 550D back lcd shell removedRemoving Back Case Remove all screws from the outer shell of the camera.  Don’t forget the ones located inside the rubber cover for the USB and HDMI connectors. There are no screws under the rubber grip pieces so don’t peel them off (chances are they are already coming off anyways).  There are also no screws under the pop up flash and it doesn’t need to be raised to remove the top piece of the camera shell.  Remove the battery door and eye cup.  Start to remove the back of the camera first and when it comes loose (be patient and gentle) flip up the locking tab on the LCD ribbon cable connector and remove the ribbon cable.  Remove the front half of the shell next.  To remove the top of the shell, disconnect all the flash lead connectors on the front PCB.  Use caution as the capacitor may still be energized even if the camera has been sitting without the battery in it for hours/days (discharge it with a resistor of a few thousand ohms).  Also disconnect the speaker plug on the back PCB located in the upper left hand corner (two small black and red wires).  There is a black coated fiber optic cable attached to the top shell assembly which sits in a white connector on the PCB underneath the outermost rear PCB.  Make a note of how it looked before disassembly and put it back the same way.  The top should come off without too much effort at this point.

Upper shell assembly Canon T2i/550DUpper Case Assembly Removed Next, remove all the screws from the back PCB and detach the other ribbon cables.  Some cables snap into their connectors (the ones with a piece of stiff plastic backer material) some are locked into the connector with flip up tabs and others just slide into the connectors.  Pay attention to which type of attachment is used and use tweezers to remove them if you can’t get your fingers to do it.  Remove the PCB and set it aside.  Avoid touching the components and traces on the PCB (hold it by the edges like you would a CD/DVD).

Canon 550D T2i CCD sensor assemblyCloseup of CMOS Sensor Assembly (Front) Remove the screws from the aluminum tripod mounting bracket, take it off, and set it aside.  Removing the CMOS sensor assembly takes a bit of planning because it is free floating to allow position adjustment on the X, Y, and Z planes.  Three T-7 Torx screws are used to adjust the "levelness" of the sensor and will affect image sharpness if not replaced in the correct way.  Firstly, tighten one of these torx screws while making  note of how many rotations it takes to become snug.  Write down the number of turns (in 1/4 turn increments) and the location of the screw being tightened. Repeat this for all three screws and remove them all.  Next remove the two fat head Philips screws holding the thin metal tabs connected to the sensor assembly in place.  Place the sensor unit where it will not be exposed to dust (inside a clean plastic container with a lid is a good place).  When reinstalling the sensor assembly, install all three torx screws to the snug position and back them off the number of turns written down previously. If you somehow mess up this step there is still hope.  Check out this article on how to recalibrate the sensor location at the Digital Cannon repair Blog.

Soldering power leads onto shutter assembly motor on a Canon 550D / T2i.Soldering Power Leads to New Shutter Remove the aluminum frame under the sensor assembly (can be a bit tricky because of the nearby ribbon cables).  Next, take off the prism and viewfinder assembly.  The shutter assembly should now be fully exposed.  Detach the power connector for the shutter motor on the front PCB (red and black wires with white connector) and detach the torsion spring from the mirror linkage (don’t forget to reattach this during reassembly).  De-solder the power leads from the old unit and reattach them to the new shutter motor (respect polarity!).  Don’t apply too much heat to the motor contacts (be quick) or you will melt the surrounding plastic and insulation on the tiny wires.

Now is the time to clean any optical surfaces (mirrors, sensor shield, focus screen, etc.) which may have become contaminated by fingerprints or dust using the lint free wipes with residue free cleaner.  Take care during reassembly not to get them dirty again.

If everything went well, the camera should now be functioning and you have possibly saved hundreds of dollars by doing it yourself.  This repair took two hours to complete (including detailed notes and photography).  I imagine it would have taken 1-1.5 hours without this additional step.

Canon 550D T2i TeardownMirror in the Up Position How much did we save?  I don’t exactly know, but the amount of time to get it repaired can be cut almost in half (~1 week for parts delivery vs. ~2 weeks for Canon’s service from my experiences).  I would love to hear from you if you have had this same problem fixed professionally. How much did it cost and how long did it take? I have heard rumors it is upwards of $300 to get this repaired or about half the cost of a brand new 550D body.


Update (8/21/13):  I have been using this camera for the last year with one unusual side effect which is probably the result of this repair.  At higher shutter speeds > 1/2000s, the images come out ~1 stop underexposed.  My guess is that the shutter box needs to be re-calibrated to work within the range of these shutter speeds.  Looking into the problem a bit further, proprietary software is required to change this setting which is much too expensive to justify worrying about it. I rarely use these fast shutter speeds and it doesn't seem to have any affect on exposure at other shutter speeds. 

(Hanson | Photo • Design) camera diy equipment photography repair https://www.hansonphotodesign.com/blog/2012/8/canon-550d/t2i-shutter-replacement-overview Thu, 23 Aug 2012 11:17:50 GMT
Palos Meltdown 2012 https://www.hansonphotodesign.com/blog/2012/8/palos-meltdown-2012

We did a quick trip up to Chicagoland last weekend and photographed the Palos Meltdown mountain bike race hosted by CAMBr (www.cambr.org).  This event is the largest mountain bike race in Illinois and this year drew over 740 racers.  Why is it called the meltdown you may be asking?  The course uses trails that encompass the past operating grounds and current burial site of the world’s first nuclear reactor: CP-1/CP-2.  Anyways, we were able to work our magic and walked away with some great images.  Check out our favorites from the event here: 2012 Palos Meltdown Select Photos

We hit the road Saturday afternoon just as a huge storm blew in and brought blinding amounts of rain and straight line winds in excess of 50mph. The 180 mile drive was a bit tedious with the constant rain.  Along the way we saw an overturned dot-matrix road construction sign (outriggers and all) and a cell tower which had been toppled by the strong winds.

Luckily this event was advertised as rain or shine and the weather had negligible impact.  The trails were very wet Saturday evening but dried considerably by Sunday morning and became borderline dusty towards the end of the race.

After arriving, we helped the CAMBr crew do some course setup and camped overnight.  Starting early, we did a bit of candid shooting amongst the gathering crowds and also captured the start of the first wave of the Cat 3/Novice race.  We then high-tailed it to the trails, got lost, and missed our first shot opportunity, but managed to catch most of the riders at our second photo spot.

On the trails, we primarily used a 10-20mm f/4.0-5.6 wide angle lens in conjunction with an off camera strobe triggered via radio slave.  Using a strobe is critical when working in conditions where there is such a drastic difference in light intensity coupled with low light (such as a forest).  The intense sunlight blasting through the canopy and the dark shadows wreak havoc on the cameras metering system. The strobe is the key to restoring order in the exposure by underexposing the background and using the strobe as the primary (key) light on the subject. Some interesting effects can be created by incorporating shadows of the bikes into the frame as well.

We also did some long shots with the 100-300mm zoom lens and incorporated the radio strobe to highlight the riders.   A few shots around 300mm required the flash/trigger to be setup ~70 feet away from the camera and the radio trigger didn’t miss a beat at this distance.

Our SOP for shooting MTB events with the wide angle lens goes like this: dial in the shutter speed to allow a bit of background blur when panning, low apertures for shallow depth of field and greater light sensitivity, low ISOs for minimal noise, underexpose 1 stop, flash compensation to +1 stop, get close, get low, and find interesting backgrounds.

Scouting locations before an event is a must if you are unfamiliar with the area and we were very unfamiliar in this instance.  Additionally, we make sure to go to the areas few people are willing to go to.  We rarely hang out around the start finish line to shoot the racers because everyone else is generally shooting from this location and their shots will look pretty much the same.  We prefer the difficult shot.  The shot where a mile hike through the bush, burrs, and poison ivy exposure is required.  I find this method much more rewarding and helpful at honing our skills. Plus, it gives us exclusivivity and the only thing that really matters: great photos.

(Hanson | Photo • Design) 2012 cycling mtb palos meltdown photography race tips https://www.hansonphotodesign.com/blog/2012/8/palos-meltdown-2012 Fri, 10 Aug 2012 23:17:48 GMT
Cycling Event Photo Tips https://www.hansonphotodesign.com/blog/2012/7/cycling-event-tips

A few weeks ago, I photographed two cycling time trials and thought I would share some techniques I use when tackling events of this nature.  This post is going to go over some of the basics of shooting cycling events and provide some tips that will improve the quality of the images produced.  These events serve as good skill builders/maintainers for action photography because they involve dynamic and fast moving subjects. To see the photos check out the Cordova 20k and 40k galleries.


I used a Canon 7D body and a Canon 100-300mm f/4.5-5.6 USM lens to shoot a majority of this event. The long lens allowed me to get closer to the subjects without being in the way and allowed a large amount of subject separation (more on that later).  Even though the lack of image stabilization (IS) on this lens made it more challenging to keep the riders in frame and the images sharply focused I believe it was the best option from our quiver of lenses.  I was able to partially compensate for the lack of IS by choosing faster shutter speeds given the abundant sunlight, but when the light gets dim there is no substitute for IS.

Camera Settings

I favor shutter priority mode for fast action events and for this particular event kept shutter speeds around 1/320 s.  This wasn't fast enough to stop all motion because I like to keep some blur in the wheels and the background for a sense of movement.  During both days there was ample light for a variety of exposure styles.  I chose to run low ISO values to reduce noise in the image as well as bias the camera to use lower aperture values for shallow depth of field (adding to background separation).  One more important point, when shooting fast moving subjects, using the continuous high speed shutter drive function (burst mode) is going to yield more usable images than trying to press the shutter repeatedly throughout the panning process.  Automatically cycling the shutter in drive mode reduces the amount of vibration induced into the camera from your body (especially true with longer lenses) and reduces unintentional motion blur.

The three most important things to consider to create a well composed shot of a fast approaching subject are: focus, tracking, and framing.


If you have a DSLR, focus can usually be taken care of by the camera's built in auto focus system.  Enable the AI servo or predictive/tracking focusing function on the camera, manually select your focus point, and you are ready to shoot.  During low contrast conditions, some tweaking may be necessary to tame the focusing system.  One thing to try in this situation is expanding the focus point search radius to give the camera a larger area to find items which it can focus on.  This typically slows down the AF response, but not drastically and is a better option than out of focus images.


Tracking a subject is a little more difficult than flipping a switch in the camera because it is something the body must be trained to do.  I often use a long exposure panning technique to convey motion in an image by blurring the background while keeping the subject in sharp focus.  These contrasting states of sharpness work to separate the subject from the background and results in a visually appealing and three dimensional image.

Panning is simply following the subject with the camera.  A smooth upper body motion is better achieved by keeping the lower body firmly planted and feet spread wide (kneel down to get even more stablility).  Having a stable foundation is crucial to minimizing vibrations that will upset the framing of the shot and introduce blur into the subject (which we don't want).  When conditions allow, I begin tracking the subject with the shutter button half-depressed for 1-2 seconds before fully releasing it to ensure I have achieved a smooth and stable motion.  By positioning your lower body facing the midpoint of the arc of travel of the subject and rotating just your upper body, the smoothness and range of panning can be maximized.  Maintaining a smooth motion is essential when dealing with longer shutter speeds and longer focal length lenses.  Image stabilization (IS) systems built into lenses or the camera itself attempt to eliminate the jerky up/down and side to side motion induced when tracking a subject and make it easier to reduce blur in images under dim lighting conditions.  I find it helpful to use a reference point in the camera's viewfinder (like an AF point dot) and a point of reference on the subject to keep the motion more fluid.  Maintain alignment of the two points while following the subject and the motion will be much more precice.  It takes considerable practice to master this technique, but it produces photos that really pop.

Panning shot example. [1/125s, f/7.1, ISO 100, 50mm]


Framing is perhaps the most difficult task when tracking a subject with a fast closing speed.  In a head on situation, the subject will rapidly increase in size as the distance between the camera decreases and at very close distances the camera's AF system will often fail because it can not keep up with the subject.  To compensate for the increase in size, the focal length (zoom) of the lens needs to be adjusted.  Smoothly operating the zoom mechanism of the lens while also maintaining a steady panning motion is once again a practice makes perfect skill.  Another thing to keep in mind while framing the shot is to leave some dead space in front of your subject’s direction of motion.  This helps reduce tension in the image because it reinforces the idea of unimpeded motion.

A common mistake of many amateur photographers is not getting close enough to the subject.  Whether it requires physically moving or using a longer lens to zoom in, just get closer.  Filling the frame better expresses any subtle details or emotions within the subject.  Also, cropping out dead space in post processing results in reduced image resolution which has negative effects when making larger prints.


  • Use the cameras auto focus tracking system.
  • Use the continuous shutter drive (aka burst) mode.
  • Set exposure settings to reduce unintentional blurring of the subject (depends highly on lighting conditions and lens).
  • Follow the subject throughout the whole range of motion and not just the moment you want to capture.
  • Pay attention to body posture and position relative to the subject’s path to make panning more effective.
  • Fill the frame with the subject while leaving some dead space in front of the direction of motion.
  • Practice zooming the lens in and out while panning to maintain the desired composition.
(Hanson | Photo • Design) Cycling Photography Technique Tips https://www.hansonphotodesign.com/blog/2012/7/cycling-event-tips Mon, 30 Jul 2012 18:25:44 GMT
Just Getting Started https://www.hansonphotodesign.com/blog/2012/4/just-getting-started We are still tweaking and adding content to the website.  Check back soon for new items.

(Hanson | Photo • Design) https://www.hansonphotodesign.com/blog/2012/4/just-getting-started Tue, 17 Apr 2012 18:02:22 GMT