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Panning a moving subject

‘Panning’ is a technique where the photographer shoots a moving subject whilst moving the camera in tandem with the subject’s movement during exposure. The result is a sharp subject with a blurred background – suggesting a feeling of motion and action.

It is a well-used technique among sports and wildlife photographers to help create dynamic action shots. Panning requires a relatively slow shutter speed – typically in the region of 1/30sec. Track the moving subject through the view finder and continue to smoothly ‘pan’ the camera after you depress the the shutter release button.

For best results, try to position yourself so that you’re parallel to the path of your subject – this will also simplify focusing – and keep your movement constant from start to finish, ensuring that the motion blur in the background of the image remains smooth. A steady hand and practice is required, but the results will reward your patience.

Image by: Jessica King – Melbourne Camera House

HOW TO PAN

When panning, make sure that you have a firm, comfortable grip on the camera. Keep the camera moving smoothly at the same speed as the subject, and use continuous shooting mode.

SLOW SHUTTER SPEEDS SUMMARY ‘USE A SLOW SHUTTER SPEED OF 1/30SEC OR LONGER WHEN’

1. You want to blur the subject’s motion for creative effect

2. You want to maximise depth-of-field and shutter speed is less of concern

3. Use a tripod to minimise camera shake

4. The light is limited, for example when you’re shooting at night.

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