This week we experimented with panning. This means setting your camera to a slow shutter speed and following an object with your camera as it passes you. The result should be a sharp object and a blurry background, which gives the impression of movement.

We went out to a busy road to photograph passing cars and set our cameras to:

  • shutter speed: 1/15
  • Aperture: f22 – gives us a bigger focal point
  • ISO: 100

To pan:

Set your camera manual focus and focus on a spot on the road that the car is going to pass (using a high aperture number means that more of the photograph will be in focus so we didn’t have to be too precise as to where on the road we focused.)

  • Follow a car with your camera
  • Press the shutter when a car is directly in front of you
  • Keep following the car with your camera after it has passed you, until the photo is taken. If you don’t follow the car until the end of the exposure, your photo will be blurry.

These are examples of what happens if you stop panning too soon:


And some more successful attempts:

There are three variables to consider:

  1. Distance between you and the object
  2. Direction of the object
  3. Speed of the object

The closer you are to the object, the faster it appears to move. The faster the object, the faster the shutter speed you can use. If the object is moving slowly, your shutter speed should be slower.

If you’re not getting enough background blur, you’re using too fast a shutter speed.

You can also use continuous high speed shooting on faster objects.

Slowing down your shutter speed  means you can pan for longer and get more background blur.