How to choose Camera Panning Photography

How to choose Camera Panning Photography

Camera panning usually requires you to use a slower shutter speed and move the camera along the axis of your subject during the time of exposure so that you get a virtually crisp, sharp subject and a blurred background.

Panning in photography is the act of capturing subjects on the move, like in action or sports photography, or just plain old street or other sorts of photography where your target is moving at the moment of exposure. 

For perfect panning photography, the key is to keep your camera and subject in perfect sync. They have to move together at the same time, in the same direction. You also need to have a long lens, and make sure you fill your subject in the frame.

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Panning photography usually works best when your subject is moving horizontal to where you’re standing. Meaning, with relation to where your are standing, the subject or target needs to be moving from your left to your right or from your right to your left. You cannot achieve camera panning with a subject that is moving straight away from you or coming towards you. It’s just not gonna work. So either change your position so that the subject is now moving sideways, or just pick a different subject.

Basic tips for perfect camera panning photography

  1. Manual or shutter priority mode: when you’re panning you obviously need to control the shutter speed so that you set an exposure time that is appropriate for the speed your subject is going at, so you need to be shooting either in manual mode or in shutter priority mode.
  2. Slow shutter speed: the purpose behind panning photography is to convey motion. So in order to show your subject in action, you need to go with relatively slower shutter speeds than you normally would.
    Of course the exact shutter speed you’re shooting with depends entirely on the type of action you’re recording. If you’re shooting a runner you would normally need a slower shutter speed than when you’re panning along with a racing car. For starters you can set your camera to 1/20th – 1/15th of a sec and then take it from there, going faster or slowing down as you find suitable.
    The rule of thumb is, if everything is turning out blurry in your photo, including your target as well as the background, then you’re probably going to need to increase your shutter speed a bit. If nothing is blurry, on the other hand, you probably need to slow down your shutter speed.
  3. Continuous shooting mode: since your subject is gonna be in constant motion while you attempt to take a picture, it’s a good idea that you shoot in continuous shooting mode. This way you can keep track of your subject while taking more than one shot, because getting the best photo right from the first time is going to be hard to achieve.
    So, once you press the shutter for the first time make sure you keep your thumb on the shutter release button and continue moving along with your subject, and the camera will keep taking photos until you take your finger off the shutter release. The most important point is that you follow through! Start shooting the moment the subject starts approaching you, and keep your finger on the shutter release while moving along with it till it moves past you. Try your best to get the shot in the center (when the subject is roughly in front of you) right. That is your best bet for the perfect panning photo.
  4. Continuous focus (AI SERVO) mode: since your subject as well as your camera are going to be in motion at the time of exposure, you normally would need to shoot in continuous focus mode so that your target remains in focus. Continuous focus will keep re-focusing your subject as they move throughout the exposure period.
    Remember also, you will be shooting in continuous mode so by the time one shot is over and the next starts, both your camera and your subject are going to be in a new position. Shooting in continuous mode will make sure your subject is going to stay in focus all through the exposure, exposure after exposure.
  5. Center auto-focus point: for best panning results, set your camera to the center auto-focus point so that you can easily keep in sync with your subject as it’s moving across the scene. Making sure your subject remains in the center while you make the exposure is going to be your best bet for staying as much as possible in sync. Moreover, the center auto-focus point in your camera is actually the fastest point to focus which will contribute more to the success of your panning photography.
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