3 steps to perfect panning
Learn how to keep your subject sharp and backgrounds blurred
With practice it’s possible to obtain a sharp image of a moving subject even at slow shutter speeds. This is done by moving the camera so the subject remains in the same position in the frame. This technique, known as panning, works best with a subject moving at a constant speed.
A good pan shot reverses the normal situation – the subject is sharp, but the background has motion blur. Find the right position for panning; your subject should be the same distance from you throughout your shot.
1. Set a slow shutter – The first step to panning is to select a slower shutter speed than you would normally for a handheld shot, such as 1/60sec or longer. Position yourself in view of the moving subject – or at least near where it might appear.
2. Use continuous focus – Switch your lens to autofocus and select continuous AF from the camera’s menu. The camera will maintain focus on your subject as it moves through the frame. Panning is most effective when the subject is moving in a straight trajectory.
3. Track and capture – When the subject enters the frame, track it with your camera. Hold it steady, pulling your elbows in and twisting at the waist, and then release the shutter. Continue to follow the subject after it has left the frame for smoother results.
Work with angles – Once you’ve taken shots at eye level, start to work with angles, and exploit some more interesting perspectives for your shots.
Play with distance – Remember that the closer the subject to the background, the stronger the sensation of the speed will be.
Be sure to check out the next issue of DP, where you can find out more about panning, and plenty of other creative ways to capture motion . It’s out 12 February. As always, keep sharing your results with us on the DP gallery!