Expressing Motion in Photographs
By Riley Caton
I have had the opportunity to shoot a number of sporting events, from professional basketball to skiing, even the Winter Olympics in Calgary, Canada.
During these events, I have used a number of TIPS FROM RILEY C. Panning is one of them.
Panning is a photographic technique that blurs the background while keeping the subject in focus.
Let’s take a look at a few photographs…
This first image was shot at 1/125th of a second. Note that the background is slightly blurred while the runner is in focus. There is a slight sense of motion.
This next photo was shot at 1/15th of a second. Notice how the background is very blurred while the head and body of the runner is still in focus. The runner’s hands and feet are motion-blurred as well.
And finally, this last shot was taken at 1/8th of a second. And, in this instance, the shutter speed is too slow to freeze any portion of the runner — the hands, feet and face are all blurred.
You’ll get the best results using a digital single lens reflex camera (SLR) — that is, a camera with interchangeable lenses — and a telephoto lens zoomed out as far as you can go (preferable between 100mm and 200mm).
Put your camera in Shutter Priority Mode, which is the “S” or “Sv” setting on the mode dial. And set your shutter speed to 1/15th of a second.
Then, locate and follow the subject in your viewfinder. Twist your body and move the camera in the same direction the subject is heading. Make sure to keep the subject in the same position in the viewfinder. Squeeze the shutter release while following the subject.
Panning requires some practice. So ask a friend or relative to run back and forth at the park or sit on a bench next to a road to photograph passing cars. You’ll eventually get the hang of it.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: Riley Caton first learned photography during high school. After retiring from a 31-year career in the fire service, Riley continued to nurture his interest in photography. His work has been published in such magazines as Newsweek, Life, Outside, the European edition of Time, and Knapsack, as well as the New York Times, USA Today, San Francisco Chronicle, and Associated Press stories. Riley now works on local photography, travel, human interest, landscape, and wildlife photography. He is also a consultant and technical writer for fire and emergency medical services disciplines.
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