Techniques: Panning

So you may or may not have heard of panning, but I'm sure you've seen a photo that uses this technique before. It's extremely popular with cars because of the fact it gives a nice motion blur which gives the feeling of speed an motion, far more exciting than a static car shot, generally anyway. So what do you do to get a panning shot? Well, the principles are quite simple, you just need to be able to follow your subject while it's passing you, trying to keep it in the same part of the frame during the entire shot. It's best to stand side on to your subject.

I usually use Shutter Priority Mode for panning shots, you will have to adjust the shutter to see which gives you the best effect and this will usually depend on the speed of the subject. You need to select a shutter that will be long enough to give you decent motion blur, but fast enough that you don't blur the subject as well. You'll usually need to experiment a little to determine the best shutter speed. start with maybe 1/100 and go longer or shorter from there. Here are some example shots:

93mm 1/50s f5.6 ISO 250 - Eastern Creek Raceway Sydney

29mm 1 /25s F5 ISO 100

Now panning can be applied to more than just cars, it can be used for almost everything where the subject moves along a straight line. Things like bikes, skateboards, sleds or even segways. Here are some additional examples of where you can use panning:

35mm 1/100 F4.5 ISO 800 - Flogsta Uppsala, Sweden

18mm 1 /5 f3.2 ISO 100 - UTS 811 Sydney

35mm 1 /25 f2 ISO 100 - UTS Sydney

Sometimes, you can combine panning with rear curtain sync to help get a slightly different effect. This may work better when your subjects aren't coming out as sharp as you like, like in the last photo. Here are some examples of this:

25mm 1 /5 f3.2 ISO 100 Flash Fired - UTS 811 Sydney

18mm 1 /13 f2.2 ISO 200 Flash Fired - UTS Sydney

So there you go, there's another interesting technique for you to try. Enjoy.

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