Saturday, August 17, 2013

How to Take a Panning Shot

Panning is an age-old technique that many of you already know/use. For any moving subject it is important to "stay with" the subject whilst you are framing the shot before and after you shoot.

With slower shutter speeds, this technique can ensure that the subject stays sharp even if the background is blurred, an effect that is quite striking and effective for sports.

orange junior by try...error

A simple way to try this is to stand by the side of a road and pick out a car coming towards you;
  • Set your cameras shutter speed to either 30th/sec or 60th/sec, basically slow enough to cause movement as you swing or pan the camera. The aperture and depth of field are somewhat irrelevant as the background will be blurred anyway.
  • Make sure that you aren't too close to the road. One, for your own safety and secondly if you are too close, the car will become distorted, especially with wide angle lenses, although this may be the effect you like. A small telephoto like 85 or 100mm is good for this technique.
  • Either, pre-select and manually focus on the point directly in front of you where you want to take the shot, this will "fix" the focus on that point.
  • Aim your camera at the car and stay with it with your finger lightly pressing the shutter button to either track the focus or/and to get a constant exposure reading.
  • At the point where it passes your pre-designated shooting area, fire away, whilst "panning" with the car all the time.
Obviously you can try this technique with any moving subject but you will have to factor in the speed of the subject when choosing your shutter speed. For example, you can pan when shooting someone walking or running to create the effect of movement on their arms and legs whilst keeping their body sharp... give it a go!

*This original tip was published on All Things Photography.

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