|Photo Tip & Assignment #7 – PanningPanning is a technique used in Photography to suggest fast motion. Basically it shows the moving subject still and the still background in motion, as seen in photographer and LSP trainer Alex Mita‘s image (left). But how does that work?Panning a camera horizontally should be a similar movement to shaking your head meaning “no” (unless you are in Bulgaria). The photographer stands still on a position and moves only the camera (head), trying to keep it in the same axis (neck). Panning can be horizontal, vertical or even diagonal, depending on the subjects trajectory. It demands a lot of practice to get it right, and because of that, can be quite challenging at the beginning, but equally rewarding when it finally works.
As opposed to trying to freeze action, panning aims to blur motion. It requires slow shutter-speeds and a swift movement from the photographer following the moving subject. The exact shutter-speed will depend on the speed at which the subject is traveling. It varies from one subject to another, for example, a much slower shutter speed is set for photographing people than for photographing cars. The choice of shutter-speed will also depend on the focal length of the lens used and the distance from the subject and background.
TYPICAL SHUTTER SPEEDS REQUIRED FOR PANNING:
Person walking: 1/15, 1/20
Person running: 1/40, 1/50
Cyclists / Cars: 1/60 1/80
Galloping Horse: 1/100, 1/125
F1 cars: 1/500, 1/800
The results can be incredibly striking. Panning is a way of making ordinary pictures stand out, as Alex says: “To compete in this saturated market, photographers have to find different ways in stating the obvious. “It’s a guy on a carousel.” We know that. But just because it’s a still photo, it doesn’t mean we cannot show movement. Panning draws the viewer’s eye to the subject and allows him or her to follow its natural movement.”
If you have Auto Focus, set Continuous / Al Servo Focus mode. This will ensure that the camera keeps focusing the subject as it gets closer when you hold your shutter-release button half-way down. Another option is pre-set the focus manually based on the distance the subject will be when you photograph it.
Another good tip is to set Continuous Drive Mode, which should not be confused with Continuous / Al Servo Focus Mode, previously mentioned. Continuous Drive mode lets you take multiple photos rapidly one after the other. The camera will keep taking photos until the memory runs out of room or you let the shutter release button go. Start shooting when the subject is approaching and continue shooting as you follow it, trying to sincronise your rotation speed to the speed of the subject, and stop shooting when it is gone.
Adjust your shutter speed as you see the first pictures. If your images are too blurry, increase the shutter-speed. If it is not blurred enough or completely sharp, slow it down. Not too much, one stop at a time, until you find the best settings.
Upload your Panning images to the Flickr Gallery: ASSIGNMENT #7 for a chance to win a £150 Discount Voucher towards Courses and Workshops at LSP*.
Photo: Alex Mita / Text: Luciana Franzolin