Last Updated on January 13, 2019
Video credit: Josh Katz
Fast-moving subjects like a race car make great subjects. While they can be captured frozen in action, others opt to depict them in motion. The latter is achieved through a technique called panning, which involves moving the camera while taking the picture. The resulting image is one of a blurred background but with a fairly sharp subject.
The tactic to getting the shot sounds simple enough: be in sync with the subject. However, getting the execution right can be rather tricky. Then again, the trick with photography – and any other are where you want to be good at – is practice, constant practice.
Here are some tips to help you out:
Pick the right subject
Since you are attempting to convey motion, it makes sense to choose a subject that moves. And preferably, it would be best to select one that moves fast. So, this rules out people who are walking as potential subjects because they don’t move fast enough to create blur. While football players seem like the perfect subject, their erratic movement makes it difficult to achieve desired results – but not impossible.
Use the proper mode
You can either use manual or Shutter Priority mode. Either of these two are recommended because you want to make sure the shutter speed doesn’t change.
Select an appropriate shutter speed
Unfortunately, there is no right answer for this one and you will have to do some experimenting yourself. However, using a long shutter speed will generally produce a blurry background. But you also have to make sure to keep the subject sharp. In other words, you have to find the right balance. For starters, anything between 1/8 and 1/60 of a second does the trick.
Find a non-plain background
Photo credit: Wild Eye
The purpose of panning is to create a blurry background effect. And that cannot be achieved with a plain background. But you also have to be aware of colors that might standout in the blur. In other words, try to find a balance.
Practice and adjust accordingly
Make sure to pan in a smooth motion. Start capturing your subject and keep shooting until they pass an ideal point. If you didn’t get the desired results, change your settings and see what happens next.
You’re going to take a lot of bad shots while trying to be good at panning. This is nothing to be frustrated about. Just keep practicing and you will eventually understand things better.