Panning is a photography technique for photographing moving objects in a low shutter speed in order to accentuate their motion on a blurry background due to the movement. Meaning, the image we are trying to present in one in which the moving object is sharp while the background is blurry, creating a sense of speed and motion.
- Camera – Any DSLR can be used for this type of photography.
- Tripod – Not essential but the extra support a tripod gives can help you create a smoother pan. If you’re going to be working at a venue where you’ll be moving around you may want to consider taking a monopod along instead. A monopod will give you that extra bit of support you need but are easier to move with.
How do you do it?
Here are several steps that should be taken before shooting:
a. Set the shutter speed to lower than 1/100 but it should be faster than 1/30, depending on the object’s distance from us and the speed in which it is moving. You should take into account that the slower that shutter speed is, so will the blur be greater, and we will have a harder time taking the shot. Why? Answers to come.
b. You should set and pre-focus to the distance the object is. Since the object is moving it will be difficult to focus on it.
c. Position yourself so that you can shoot the object without interruption or distractions.
Now that we are ready, both mentally and with the camera, we stalk the object patiently. When we see it approaching we bring the camera in front of us ( look through the eyepiece and not through the LCD screen because the eyepiece is quicker, more accurate and without delay) and try to position the object next to the cross in the eyepiece and keep it in that exact position, to prevent it from turning out blurry as well.
When the object is just in front of us or the place we want to shoot it in front of, we gently press the shutter button while making sure we are keeping a steady continuous motion with our camera in front of the object. We continue this motion until the exposure is done.
The reason it’s so difficult to shoot with longer exposures than are shown here is that it’s tricky keeping the camera steady on the horizontal plane as well as following the subject in precisely the same speed in which it is moving so as it doesn’t come out blurry. You can partially overcome this problem using a tripod.
After the shooting we check out camera to see how it turned out and if there is room for improvement.
It’s recommended that you shoot/crop the photo so that the subject is positioned as though it has space to go forward (read the composition article to know why)
It takes a lot of practice to get to the desired quality of photography, and a lot of patience (and a good memory card) is needed for optimal results. Most importantly – don’t despair.
Panning shots can be done on any moving object including cars, bicycles, motorcycles, roller blades, kites, flying models, birds, and what ever comes to mind.
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