Rachit Vats Panning Inspiration


Untitled by Rachit Vats

Freezing motion into a single, crystal clear frame is fun.  But if it’s not water drops or things getting destroyed, the novelty wears off after a while – both for the photographer and for the viewer.  Thanks to the geniuses who develop cameras for our use, we have the ability to slow down that shutter and create much more interesting and fantastic photos, such as Rachit Vats’s Untitled Photo shown here.

For those of you who have been following Shutter Photo for a while, we spotlighted one of Rachit’s photographs, Beauty and Filth, over a year ago.  At the time, I was naturally attracted to his work because of his unique perspective with the camera.  His lens was getting close to things, it was in places it shouldn’t be…it was even upside-down when the shutter was opening – all with purpose and a designed intent, of course.

So Rachit has returned to our spotlight with this fantastic photo of a scene that is, once again, unique and special only because of his careful and designed presentation and treatment.  Slowing the shutter to 1/8, he has converted this from a photo of a horse and carriage to a portrait of time.  I’m over-romanticizing of course – because that’s what I do – but showing motion blur really adds an entirely new dimension to a photo.  If this were shot at 1/400, the horse and carriage would be frozen.  You’d be able to count the spokes on the wheels.  Compositionally, the photo would be technically favorable and aesthetically pleasing (just look at those awesome balloons).  But without the element of blur,  what have you got?  A photo containing a horse that seems awkwardly poised to run.  Except it’s not running.  It’s a statue.  Fortunately for you, the observer, Rachit knows how to slow his shutter so that he can show us that the horse is trotting and that the wheels are spinning.

The panning technique is difficult to do well, especially at such a slow shutter speed.  I personally have trouble with speeds much slower than 1/40.  So realize that Rachit deserves a great deal of respect for shooting at 1/8, a large chunk of time for a photograph.  In this amount of time, a jittery hand – any vertical movement – throws ripples through a photograph.  I suspect that a fluid head or some sort of stabilizer rig was used for this shot, but that doesn’t make the skill any less respectable.  Take a look at the wheels, especially the front one.  The wheels look pretty sharp for an in-motion capture.  What this really means is that Rachit’s pacing as he’s panning along with the carriage is spot on.  If he was out of sync with the carriage, or if his panning speed fluctuated, the wheels wouldn’t be crisp.

For me, the wheels make the shot.

For more inspiration and some unique perspectives, be sure to check out Rachit’s photostream.


About Author

D. Travis North is a professional Landscape Architect, a Freelance Photographer and founder of Shutter Photo. Ever since he picked up his first SLR, his father's Nikon N2000, he's been hooked on photography. Travis likes to photograph urban environments, architectural details and has a new-found interest in close-up photography. His work can be found at D. Travis North Photography. Follow Travis on twitter: @dtnorth.

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