Panning is a technique used for conveying movement, particularly with fast-moving objects. Sure, you can freeze these objects using high shutter speeds, but they end up looking just that – frozen, without any sense of movement. With panning, you deliberately slow the shutter speed and pan the camera to track fast-moving subjects, smoothly swivelling your hips.
The idea is to keep the subject as sharp as possible while creatively blurring the background.
This technique needs some practice, and it’s good to try it out during your summer travels, particularly if visiting a colourful place like India or Vietnam. All you need is a camera that doesn’t suffer excessively from shutter lag and a lens that is wide enough to capture the entire scene.
- The shutter speed depends on the subject’s speed. Try 1/30sec or 1/20sec and moving up or down from there. Begin panning before pressing the shutter, and continue moving with the subject after taking the image.
- You can switch to continuous shooting mode and set the focus points to the part you really want to be sharp. Alternatively, use manual focus and prefocus on the area the subject will pass.
- If something is very fast moving and colourful, like a dancer, try using a slower shutter speed, as a sense of movement and dynamism is key. Ensure that evocative shapes and colours are included.
- Notice how in this image the rider has space to move into. Context is crucial, even if it’s deliberately blurred out. Be sure not to crop key parts of the moving subject otherwise it will look amateurish.