When I’m out wandering through a city with my camera, I’ll often look for busy sidewalks or other pedestrian thoroughfares. What I want are people walking, running, biking, or skating toward me. My goal is to photograph the subject(s) as they are passing or about to pass.
I’ll commonly preset the camera settings. Then, as a subject approaches, everything on the camera is ready to go. These are my typical settings, though they really depend on what I’ll be photographing, how far from the subject I'm standing, and how fast the subject is moving:
ISO - 100
Shutter speed - 1/15th to 1/60th second
Aperture - whatever f-stop necessary for a proper exposure
Focal length of lens - in the wide-angle range
Focus - set to manual focus and at the approximate distance where I expect the subject to be when I press the shutter button
For these sorts of shots, I’m panning my camera as I shoot, so that it’s moving at the same speed as the subject. This makes the subject mostly in focus and only slightly blurry. Where more blur hopefully is prevalent is in the background and/or foreground. The blur helps give a sense of movement to the moving subject as well as hide distracting clutter that may be in the background and/or foreground.
When panning the camera, I’m not looking through the viewfinder or at the camera’s monitor. I don’t want the subject to know they are being photographed. The camera remains where I’ve been carrying it - usually at mid-chest level. My camera and chest are actually moving together. At the same time, I’m tilting the camera up or down slightly, attempting to get the best framing possible. I do all this nonchalantly, as though I’m merely looking around. Unfortunately, since I cannot see how the subject is being framed, this technique often causes me to miss part or all of the subject.
Sometimes, instead of wandering, I’ll perch myself somewhere, and wait for people to come past me. Depending on where I am, this can be quite productive or quite futile.
Here are six examples of people coming past me. By the way, I think there are some really interesting shadows in a few of the photographs.
Finding The Shot
Focus And Blur
Lighting The Subject