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Panning Expressing Movement

Photography is a static medium and differs from other modes of art such as video in that our image doesn’t move. However if we use our imagination, it is possible to give the illusion of movement in a photo. There are several techniques that can give this feeling, all of which require a longer exposure time than we are probably used to. By taking control of the shutter speed we can achieve very creative results and have a lot of fun doing it.

Panning Expressing Movement

Panning is a photography technique that allows the photographer to express their creativeness in a photo by giving the illusion of movement. This technique focuses on a moving object and allows the background to appear as if it is flying past that object. This technique works really well for all kinds of subjects such as sport, motor vehicles, bicycles, people walking or even animals running!

What kind of equipment is needed for panning?

Panning doesn’t require expensive filters, lenses or even the use of a tripod. It is a skill that anyone can learn, although it does require practice. Besides practice, the only other thing that is needed is a camera that has a semi manual or manual mode because what we need to do is slow down the shutter speed in a way that automatic mode won’t allow us to do.


What camera settings are used for panning?

The best way to keep your subject in focus is to change your camera’s focus setting to AI Servo. You can access this trough the menu on your camera. AI Servo allows the lens to track a moving object and keep it in focus even if it is moving closer or further away from you.

Next we need to change the camera from Single Shot to Continuous Shooting. This allows us to press and keep our finger on the shutter release button and the camera will take multiple shots. This is important because our object is moving and we are moving with it. By taking multiple shots we are maximising the chances of getting at least one or two photos worth keeping.

To get creative with the photos, we need to use a fairly slow shutter speed. Set your camera to the ‘Tv’ mode on Canon or ‘S’ on Nikon. This will allow us to control the shutter speed, however let the camera work out the aperture for us. Set the camera to a shutter speed of 1/20th of a second and either move up to 1/30th or down to 1/10th depending on the results you see on your LCD screen.

At this point, if your camera or lens has image stabilisation, now is a good time to make sure it is switched on. If you don’t have image stabilisation, don’t worry.

How is it done?

Panning is done by focusing on the object and moving with it as we take photos. The most effective way to pan is to have the object that you are photographing pass you from left to right, or right to left. If the object is in the distance and coming toward you, or vice versa, the panning effect won’t be as obvious. The goal is to have the object in focus and everything else blurred.

Panning Technique Blog

This is a really fun photography technique and has the potential for some interesting photos. The more practice, the better the results become. As there is no fancy equipment involved except for a camera with semi manual settings, it is a technique that can be practiced easily on a regular basis.

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