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 techniques to express a sense of motion in photographs. Panning is one of them.
Digital Photography Tip: Panning
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: Learn more about how you can turn your pictures into cash in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel. Sign up here today and we’ll send you a new report, Selling Photos for Cash: A Quick-Start Guide, completely FREE.]