Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Panning Practice

I love to play with motion with my camera. It's fun to set a long shutter speed and deliberately move the camera, or to shoot a moving subject with a long exposure. One of the most challenging techniques for playing around with motion is panning. A good pan has a relatively sharp subject, with a motion blurred colorful background. Panning can really adds a feeling of movement and speed to your photos.

When you pan, you move your camera parallel to the subject, following it at the same speed and direction.Your motion needs to be smooth with no stops or hesitation. It's easiest if the subject is moving straight across in front of you, either left to right, or right to left. I usually do my pans at 1/30 sec- 1/60 sec and I don't use a tripod. It often takes some experimenting to get just the right speed, depending on the speed of your subject.  I've used panning to shoot car races, traffic, planes, snowmobiles and 4 wheelers. It does takes lots and lots of practice (and many deleted photos!), but when it works, the images are very cool. It's also lots of fun, and isn't that what photography should be?

I shot a barrel race competition last weekend, and knew as soon as the action started that it would be the perfect situation to practice my pans. The first few shots were pretty bad, but I soon got the right speed for the action in front of me, and I happily panned the competition for several hours. Here are a few of my favorite photos from the event.

I also shot some portraits of the riders, all in all a very fun day!

I hope you have some challenging fun with your camera today!

Happy shooting!


  1. WAY awesome ~ I know how hard that is to do. You nailed it!

  2. Amazing Kathleen!! Wish I could do that!!

  3. Thanks, Cindi, it is challenging!

    Thank you Joyce, I'd be glad to help you with panning. :)


  4. Splendid shots, Kathleen! The sharpness is amazing. Love your work. :)