Techniques

Panning

Panning is a great technique for capturing – and conveying the sense of – speed. It can be somewhat “hit and miss” but here we offer some advice to help improve your success rate.

Subjects
o Objects moving in a predictable direction, such as cars and bikes work best.
o Panning is less successful for erratically moving subjects, like birds in flight.

Kit
o Any camera can be used, provided you have some control over shutter speed.
o Because of superior handling, DSLR cameras are best for this technique.

Technique
o Set a slower shutter speed than you would use to freeze the action.
o Shutter speed depends on the speed of the subject and its distance from you
> For slower subjects like pushbikes, speeds of 1/5th to 1/30th would be a good start point.
> For fast racing cars and motorbikes, try 1/50th to 1/200th.
> The slower the shutter speed, the greater the background blur – but with less chance of a sharp subject.
o Stand with feet apart and elbows tucked in. Follow the subject in the viewfinder. Gently press the shutter release and continue to follow the subject until after the shutter closes.
o Swivel from the waist, not the shoulders.
o Try to position yourself parallel to the action – or on the inside of a bend
o Consider the background and try to avoid distracting elements – although most will blur and so become less of a distraction.
o Use focus tracking (continuous AF) if your camera has this facility.
o If focusing is difficult, pre-focus on where you expect the subject to appear and rely on depth of field to cover slight errors.

Other advice
o The more you practice, the better your results will become.
o Shoot lots of images – you may only have a few “keepers”.
o If you are shooting at an event (e.g. a motor race), pan some shots and aim to freeze the action for others (with a faster shutter speed). This will ensure you come home with some sharp shots even if your panning efforts have been less successful.