PHOTO SKILLS: PANNING
it’s A technique that’s FOUND FAVOUR with motorsport, wildlife AND CREATIVE photographers Alike. JORDAN But TERS DEMONSTRATES the ART of PANNING…
Capture subjects in motion by improving your panning technique. Jordan Butters demonstrates how it’s done
Camera: Nikon D750 / Lens: AF- S 70- 200mm F/ 2.8G ED VR ii
P anning is the practice of following the direction of a moving subject with the camera whilst using a slow shutter speed to convey motion. By keeping the subject, or at least part of it, in one place in the frame through the exposure, the result is a dynamic blurred background, with the subject rendered nice and sharp. it’s a relatively simple technique to learn, but one that takes lot of practice to become consistent at and to master.
Because motion blur conveys the idea of speed in still images, the more blur, the faster a subject is perceived to be travelling. the amount of blur that you capture depends on several factors. the main two to consider are the speed that the subject is travelling at and the shutter speed that you choose. For example, a panning shot of someone walking past at 1/ 30sec will contain far less motion blur than the same subject photographed at 1/ 15sec. a car passing at a higher speed will contain substantially more blur than the image of the person would too. Focal length also affects the appearance of background blur – a longer focal length will compress perspective, accentuating blur. Finding the right amount of motion blur for your subject, their speed and distance from you is often hit or miss, but use the example table over the page as a good starting point to begin with.
panning can be made easier by using a support, such as a tripod or monopod. By locking off any potential movement on the vertical axis, your hit rate is likely to improve. however the use of such supports can restrict movement, and prevent you from panning subjects that might not be travelling perfectly parallel to your position.
1 ANGLE OF APPROACH Consider your subject’s angle of approach – a constant speed and movement through the frame makes it easier to track. Therefore, it’s simpler to pan a subject moving across you side- on than it is one coming towards or away from you. Panning with a subject approaching or moving away usually requires a faster shutter speed than one moving across because the subject’s size in the frame changes throughout the exposure.
2 CHOOSE SHUT TER- PRIORIT Y MODE Set your camera up ready to shoot – select shutter- priority mode and continuous drive mode. Switch to single- point, continuous autofocus too. Look through the viewfinder and move your focus point to where you want your subject to be in the frame. Set your ISO to reflect the light – on a sunny day choose ISO 100, or for overcast weather try ISO 200- 400.
3 PICK YOUR SHUT TER SPEED Choosing the right shutter speed often calls for trial and error. If you’re afforded multiple attempts, then start with a fast shutter speed and work your way slower as you improve. Panning is a game of risk and reward – shooting faster is safer, but less dramatic, whereas slower shutters mean more chance of missing the shot, but the opportunity for more impressive results.
4 TECHNIQUE As your subject approaches, position your AF point over it and track it, keeping it in the exact same position in the frame using the AF point as a reference. Stand with your legs shoulderwidth apart, lock your elbows into your sides and rotate the top half of your body smoothly in one fluid motion through your hips. When you’re ready, press and hold the shutter button, continuing to track the subject until it has passed you by.
5 HOW SLOW CAN YOU GO In all of the images above the car is travelling at 40mph, however it’s the shutter speed that affects the perception of speed. Slower speeds might take a few attempts, but persevere. If you’re not having any luck, then go a couple of stops faster. If you’re nailing every shot, then go slower. Zoom in on the LCD and check for sharpness, rather than relying on a quick glance.
pan handling Capture subjects with dynamic blur by slowing your shutter speed and panning as they pass by. Exposure: 1/ 60sec at f/ 3.5 ( ISO 320)