07 May 2011

Four Easy Steps to Learn Panning

Susan Brannon
Have you ever tried to take photographs of moving subjects and everything always came out blurry?  Have you ever wondered how the sports and war photographers capture crisp images of the subject, while the background has movement or blur?

Panning is where you can capture an image where the subject is crisp and still but the background is full of motion and blurred with lines and colors.  You would want to use panning to create the feeling of movement, or to capture a moving object. You can create amazing images by using the panning technique.  Most sports and war photographers use this technique.

Panning solves the problem of blurry moving objects, for example cars, bicycles, and most sports. To master panning, requires a lot of patience, practice, energy and trial and errors.  Don’t worry, if you keep at it, you will be able expand your image taking!

4 steps to learn panning:

1) Choose a moving subject:
For your first few attempts try to locate subjects that do not move very fast, for instance moving cars in a residential area, or running dogs and joggers in a nearby park.

2)  Set your shutter speed to slower speed at 1/30 or 1/60 and your camera on Auto Focus.

3)   Now, you need to learn to focus track!  When your subject starts to come to the area near where you are, put the subject in view and focus on the subject following it’s movement towards you.  Hold down your shutter button half way down to keep the subject in focus.  Do not let go of the shutter while following your subject with your camera at the same speed it is going.  Your camera will automatically adjust its focus.

Here is an image, where my AF was not focused on the subject when I pressed the shutter.  I chose to go to the nearby carousel located in the center of Florence.

 You notice that the background is blurred like we wanted, but the subject is also blurred.

4)  When the subject gets near where you are (in front of you or some focal point you have chosen) shoot! Make sure that the subject remained in focus.

This is how a panned subject should look!  There is a blurry background, while the subject is still in focus.  The image shows the movement of the carousel and provides a colorful background.

Notes:  You may want to play with the shutter speed to gather more blur in the background, but if you make it too low, the subject will also become blurred!

Once you get the hang of it, you can practice on faster moving objects!  Have fun!

Related lessons:
Aperture and f/16 Rule
Shutter Speed Basics

Depth of Field
Focused Bracketing or Photo Stacking 

1 comment:

Catherine Martin said...

Susan, I read this while I was in Florence and practiced. I got a clear picture but couldn't figure out how to blur the background. I love how you got that great bokeh effect. Your picture there is amazing. So I'm going to keep practicing :)