Introduction to Panning – Basic techniques and a beginner’s guide

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Panning a moving subject properly….well it usually creates stunning results.
A blurred background with a mostly crisp, slightly blurred around the edges, subject…..by definition a pan, is a matter of practice.
Certain basic rules apply though..

 

SLOWER SHUTTER SPEEDS

The most important rule. Shutter speeds by definition need to be slowed down to allow tracking a subject over a period of time. This creates the beautifully blurred backgrounds.

 

 

Shutter speeds depend on the speed on the moving subject. Fast moving objects may need around 1/60th of a second. Most often 1/15th to 1/30th provide good results. But this varies too much. As said before, the speed of the moving subject decides this. Usually some experimenting is required.

FOCUS AND TRACKING

Modern cameras allow tracking a moving subject while in focus. Half press of the shutter usually locks the focus. At times manual focus set to a specific distance might be needed.

 

 

PANNING

Smooth movement of the camera to follow the moving subject comes with practice. A horizontal smooth travel or following of the subject with the camera is the basic underlying technique. Tripods and monopods come with pan heads but most often panning is done with the camera handheld.

 

 

SPACE AROUND THE SUBJECT

Too tight frames tend to negate the effect of motion blur. Usually some real estate on both sides of the subject result in a more dramatic panning effect.

Photo: Colours in the background helps in subject isolation

 

PANNING SLOW MOVING OBJECTS CAN BE TRICKY

One might end up moving faster than the subject. In my experience panning slow moving subjects require more skill. The shutter speeds might turn out to be faster than required….the camera movement can turn out to be out of sync with that of the subject…….but opinion differs.

 


 

BRIGHT DAYLIGHT

This can lead to problems in slowing the shutter speed. Stopping down at base ISO can help.

 

TEST SHOTS, EXPERIMENT, SEVERAL SPEEDS

Try out several shutter speeds at different focal lengths to get at the optimum and most dramatic pan. Fiddle around a bit with the aperture.

By |2018-12-21T09:29:06+00:00December 21st, 2018|Categories: How-to Tips|0 Comments

About the Author:

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I have always believed photographs tell stories in a way nothing else does. This has drawn me to explore photography as a visual story telling medium. I started off as a hobbyist shooting on the streets and freezing daily urban life in my city Kolkata, India. Over time my work expanded to include documentary photography and photo-stories. Eventually I went on to complete a diploma in photojournalism and a course on commercial photography. My capacity as a photojournalist allows me to cover events, festivals and public gatherings. Though I regularly do food and portrait photography as part of my commercial engagements, street and human interest continue to be closest to my heart.

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