Panning is a fun way of shooting fast moving objects. I myself took it a while to grasp the technique. It took me a while because I had been taught wrong. And no one told me the trade secrets behind it. Now finally I know how to execute it perfectly. Here I have put down a piece that should help you in upgrading your skill. Also original post I have published in MyBikeMyWorld.com
A perfect panning shot
Understanding the panning technique –
The mechanism is relatively simple than it looks. Mostly, those who know it perfectly have a tendency to tell it in a complex manner, making it sound difficult but once you understand what exactly happens inside the camera, you will be simply amazed to know that it’s a piece of cake!
There are four major aspects which control a panning shot — Shutter, Aperture, Focus Mode and ISO. Under good lighting conditions, any shutter speed above 1/60 freezes the shot while anything lower will capture a shake in the image. What you do while panning is, change the focus mode in the camera to ‘Continuous’ so that the focus point now follows the subject as it moves; through the lens, just follow the subject without letting it get out of your camera’s view finder. This scenario allows you to sharply capture the primary subject with a pleasing motion blur in the background.
The image is clear around focus point but a minute shake at the bottom
In your first few shots you may not see the result but with practice anyone can master this technique. Composing it right is very important. In the beginning, you’ll find it difficult but once you start shooting, you’ll quickly learn and understand what’s really happening.
What equipment you’ll need?
A panning photograph can be taken from any camera which gives you control over the shutter speed function. You can either use a DSLR or a simple bridge camera. Looking at the quality of various camera products available in today’s time, a bridge camera can also be capable of generating an output which is very close to that of a DSLR.
The photos used in this article have been taken from –
- Nikon D7000
- Nikon P500
Professionals also use a tripod to get it done perfectly but this technique can also be executed handheld quite easily. Just a pair of steady hands is what you need.
Setting up your Camera –
You need to set up the control settings on your camera. A lot of depends on the lighting conditions present. Assuming it’s a sunny day with mild overcasts in the sky then the most successful setting is a shutter speed of 1/30, ISO 100 and since you’re are supposed to take the shot in shutter priority mode, (TV in Canon) your aperture value will be set automatically.
Now, here is something that most people forget. After completing the above settings, do not miss changing your focus mode to ‘Continuous’, present in Nikon or to ‘AI Servo’ in Canon.
What about the lens? The kit lens or any other having focal length of 18mm onwards will do just fine. A higher quality lens will increase the image and colour quality only yet, the panning technique can be executed by a simple standard kit or prime lens also. Having enough space in the memory card is a given fact. You will be shooting at least 20-25 photos to get that one perfect shot!
The technique once mastered, will allow anyone to take a panning photograph right in the first shot.
Taken from a Bridge camera
How to Execute the Technique?
Many people ask expert photographers on how exactly the technique is executed and the replies they get are so technical to hear and understand that most of the times the photo enthusiasts land up with a bunch full of shaky images.
The technique is quite simpler than it looks. Just follow the below steps and you’ll surely get the shot you are imagining.
- When looking into the eyepiece/viewfinder hold the camera steady. Hold your breath for few seconds if it works for you.
- Assuming your focus point is in the centre, get your moving object in focus by looking through the view finder while pressing the shutter half down. Since you are in ‘Continuous’ focus mode, your camera focus point is locked on the moving subject so now you don’t have to refocus but just follow the subject.
- The moment the object comes close and you know this is where you want the image to be composed, just hit the shutter button BUT keep the camera following your object.
- Check the result, if not happy then shoot again.
Result when camera not held on firmly
Quick Tips –
- Holding the camera in a steady position is very important. While panning a shot if the camera moves cross or vertically then you’ll get a slight shake in your image.
- Since you’ll be using a slower shutter speed, it’s best to keep your focal length under 40mm on the kit lens. (Different issue on prime or telephoto lens.)
- Morning as well as the evening time is best to get quick results and pleasant colours.
- Try to get a pattern background. If there are bushes or trees lined behind the subject, then the motion blur looks very significant. If just sky or few objects like buildings or random objects are in the background then the motion blur loses its charm at some places.
So, go on, try it out and if you still cannot get the one you have picturised, drop me a mail. I’ll be happy to help.