Insight on Panning

The concept of panning is quite simple, while the act of panning successfully is a bit more difficult.

Panning occurs when you move your camera, following your subject, while keeping the shutter speed low enough to capture the movement. As a result, the image will have the subject sharp and the background in blurred motion.

The first time you try panning, start by taking a good look at the focusing screen in your camera (example shown above). Select a certain point in the focusing screen, such as the center point, and make sure you keep the subject on that point at all times while they are moving. This means you’ll have to rotate your body in order to keep the subject on point. As you do this, your subject will be clear while the background shows motion.

In addition to moving, you will need to have a good stance. The best stance is to tuck in your elbows and arms with your knees slightly bent. This will help eliminate camera shake while making it easier for your body to smoothly rotate while following your subject’s movement.

After you understand the concept of panning and how to best hold yourself, you will need to know the right speed to keep your shutter at. For best results, the shutter will need to be slow enough to capture movement, while fast enough to keep the subject clear. A good place to start is 1/30. After you’ve gotten the hang of panning, look at the images, then bump your shutter speed up or lower it to your liking.

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