Discover how they do that in this Panning Photography Tutorial
Images that capture the sense of motion while keeping the subject sharp and in focus? I will give a brief and simple explanation here with some quirky examples to whet the appetite of anyone interested in trying this form of action photography.
Indian Cycle Rickshaw in Action.
Panning is a Photographic technique which takes a little practice to perfect but once you have the know how and skills to get it right you will be rewarded with some very interesting and creative shots. The idea is to convey motion in a shot without blurring the main subject and creating a motion blur effect with the background. So let’s see how with this Panning Photography Tutorial
Overloaded motorbike in Indonesia
Less Haste More Speed!
Transportation in Pontianak, Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo
Catch me if you can! – 1/25 sec f/13 ISO 100
The following images are examples of how motion blur is possible with slow or extremely slow moving subjects. Hand Pulled Rickshaw wala’s in Kolkata (formally Calcutta) India, granted these subjects aren’t painstakingly slow but neither are they the Cheetahs of the human race! This is unique tradition still continues to this day and provides beautiful examples
Slow moving subject – 1/25 sec f/6.3 ISO 100
Rotating wheels of a Hand Pulled Rickshaw in Kolkata
As we can see the Rickshaw Wala is almost at a standstill in the first hand pulled rickshaw shot above hence the shop windows in the background are not so blurred as the panning action was slow and shutter speed at 1/25th sec but the overtaking car at a faster speed gives an extra boost to convey the feeling of motion in the shot.
The second image where the Hand Pulled Rickshaw is moving slightly faster creates that little bit more of a motion blur effect in the background and starts to ghost passers-by.
One more thing to point out if you are still following this Panning Photography Tutorial which can help when shooting with wide aperture and slow shutter speed to get more of the subject in focus is the Focal Plane factor. Depending on how important it is to have all the subject or not in focus then we have to take into account the camera’s focal plane being parallel to the subject. As we pan the better we can keep the camera parallel to the moving subject will dictate how much that subject will be in focus. The image below could be regarded as bad panning as the focal plane wasn’t that parallel to the subject hence only the horses rear end is sharp and in focus. Nevertheless I was pleased with the result. Sometimes not being perfect yields good results…
At The Races – Vigan in the Philippines – 1/30 sec f/13 ISO 100
The Art of Panning Photography
I prefer handheld when it comes to Panning which gives me a lot of flexibility of movement when trying to achieve a smooth panning action, it takes some practice but that’s half the fun and doesn’t take long to pick up.
The focus settings if you are using a Canon camera should be set to AI Servo which when you half click the shutter button on your decided focal point will track the subject as you move and adjust focus for you by updating itself.
When you pan your feet should be shoulder width apart, hold your camera firmly with your elbows tucked in and start tracking your subject as soon as it comes into view from right to left or left to right.
Keep your feet facing forward and pivot your waist from the hips in a smooth motion panning action at roughly the same speed as your moving subject and click the shutter when it is in the position you want but don’t stop there continue to pan, following through tracking the subject after you have clicked the shutter. You can also use machine gun mode and fire a few shots off as you pan.
Home made vehicle on the streets of East Java, Indonesia
Panning Photography Tutorial and Things to Consider
Try to find a suitable background, not always important depending on where and what you are shooting but it can help. Sometimes a simple background without clutter can highlight or isolate your subject making it stand out. For example a wall with colour running horizontally which will turn into stripes of colour with motion blur.
Sunblock on the streets of Varanasi, India
Try to keep your subject in the same part of the frame as you pan and expose correctly for the shot which is more likely to ensure a crisp sharper subject. Keep the feet evenly spaced and steady whilst swiveling the upper body from the waist upwards and try to pivot at some kind of equal pace to the moving subject
Think about your subject and how fast it is moving, if it happens to be a runner, a horse trotting along or a cycle rider (one that doesn’t happen to be in the Tour De France)! your shutter speed could be down to a tenth of a second or less to achieve that blurred background, the faster the subject is moving you need to increase the shutter speed to get the same effect but without going to the extremes, eg. even if you track a subject and shoot at 1/4000 sec you will not get blurred out of focus background, your shutter speed will be so fast that it will actually freeze everything in the frame which would defeat the object.
Delivery Service in Asia! – Panning Photography Tutorial
So go get yourselves out there and have a go. Happy shooting and experiment, practice practice practice, before you know it you will have some really nice shots! Just remember this is Slow Shutter Photography but not quite Long Exposure Photography, that’s another post. I do hope this Panning Photography Tutorial has helped you at least understand the basics of this creative technique.
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