Some shots I see online I don't understand how the tracking is done.

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The car is coming at the camera while the motion blur is also towards the camera, so if you move your camera in the direction of the motion you will also blur the car. I guess these photos are a complete photoshop job?

  • 3
    Both of these are screenshots from a game. The letters 'CG' used in answers stand for Computer Graphics. Aug 15 '13 at 19:46
  • I see CG mentioned a lot here, but the originals seem to have been shot with a Canon 5D Mark II (Flickr, 500px) and Canon 7D (Flickr, 500px), though 1/60s. sound pretty low for a shutter speed... Aug 16 '13 at 14:30
  • It is fairly easy to create a composite of several different shots and apply the EXIF info from one of them. The Indy car shot is clearly a composite as there is no way the IMS officials would allow them to run on the infield course during May. Yet the comments state the photos were done the week of qualifying when the infield space is used for other purposes. The background shot may have been taken while riding around on a golf cart in the infield, but I'm pretty sure that car wasn't on the infield course during May.
    – Michael C
    Aug 16 '13 at 17:05

Photos kind of similar to this can be achieved using a tracking shot where the photograph is taken from a car in front of the car being photographed, however in this particular case the answer is CG and/or heavy Photoshop. Particularly for the second image, there is no way to viably get that shot sharp without having the background also sharp.

On the first, it might be possible to get something close with a tracking shot, but the radial nature of the blur on the inside seems improbable and it seems like the entire thing may well be CG based on the coloring and texture.

It is also possible that they took a photo where everything was sharp and then they added the blur with Photoshop and greatly increased the contrast and colorized it in a surreal manner, but it feels much more CG oriented.

Also, to clarify, this has nothing to do with panning. That is motion blur. Panning is when you turn the camera along the horizontal axis. This has nothing to do with that. Tracking is the correct term since the moving subject is tracked with the camera and in this case the camera would have to be moving (which is typical of many tracking shots, but not always a condition of them.)

  • This is an example of a more realistic version of what the shot would look like with this kind of technique. In this case, it appears to be a tracking shot from either a helicopter or a far off stand.
    – AJ Henderson
    Aug 15 '13 at 17:22
  • Panning is not exclusively a video term. It is quite often used in creating still images to depict motion.
    – Michael C
    Aug 16 '13 at 6:51
  • @MichaelClark - I altered it to remove the bit about being a video term since it wasn't 100% accurate. I had always heard the shots you are referring to as tracking shots, but I do see that panning is also used for when the shot is achieved with a pan. Guess this is one of those times my video background shows itself since I'm much more used to thinking of it in that sense. Thanks for pointing it out.
    – AJ Henderson
    Aug 16 '13 at 14:14
  • @AJHenderson "Particularly for the second image, there is no way to viably get that shot sharp without having the background also sharp. " - there is nothing impossible in it, look at the right border of the image - it is sharper because it is the pivot point of tracking. Jan 10 '17 at 12:10
  • @EuriPinhollow - yeah, a tracking shot from a moving car might be able to get close, but it's still at minimum heavily photoshoped. It's possibly taken from video stills being composited, but there are other odd artifacts like the multiple ghost images in the left to right movement.
    – AJ Henderson
    Jan 10 '17 at 15:05

Both of these appear to be Computer Generated (CG) graphics, which are often used for video games and movies. In the movie industry they call it Computer Generated Imaging (CGI) and it is now the norm, rather than the exception, for generating special effects. The sharply defined edge of the shadow in the second image gives it away.

It would be theoretically possible (and in the case of the first shot, often has been done) to create such a shot by attaching a boom directly to the vehicle pictured and then removing the boom and its mount from the photo in post-processing. The first shot could also be accomplished by mounting the camera on a vehicle leading the pictured one and traveling at the same speed in the same direction. It might be theoretically possible to accomplish the second shot in the same way if the lead vehicle where in an identical power slide to the trailing one!

  • Based on the EXIF, I'd say neither are complete CG, but were heavily post-processed. Shutter speed is low though. Aug 16 '13 at 14:27
  • See my comment under the question. These are composites. There is no way that car was in the infield at speed during the INDY 500 qualifying. The oval course at Indy used for the INDY 500 is four left turns on a much wider track with protective barriers at the edges.
    – Michael C
    Aug 16 '13 at 17:09

They are called tracking shots, the only way to do them is to shoot from the back of a moving vehicle that drives in front of the vehicle you are photographing. That way the subject will be sharp as it is travelling the same speed as the tracking vehicle.

I can't speak of the veracity of those particular images (there has been a lot of editing regardless), but you certainly can get similar shots from another vehicle, open any enthusiast car magazine and you'll see non-GC'd tracking shots.

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