TIPS! Panning

What is panning?

Photographically, “panning” refers to the action of moving your camera whilst taking a photo.

Typically, the camera is “swiped” horizontally or vertically.

The action of moving the camera creates a creative blur in the photo, sweeping lines of colour or pattern.

Generally speaking, a slower shutter speed is used to capture the length of the movement. Personally, I find a shutter speed between 1/20th and 1/2 works well.

I prefer to mount the camera to a tripod, to ensure that the panning motion is done in a straight line.


Why would I use panning?

I find panning a soft (dreamy!) way of presenting colour and texture.

Here are some of my examples:




224 | 365

Panning can be used in a variety of ways, not just for creating patterns.

For example: panning can be applied to only backgrounds, when photographing cars or other moving objects, like birds or even people. By focusing on your moving subject and “following” the subject with your camera, your background will become “panned”. This type of panning is probably better to handhold so you can effectively track your subject.

Here are some examples of panning, from (by clicking on the images, you can see more of the artists work):


[ CORVETTE C6 2008 3/2 ] PANNING ( Explore )

At The Speed Of Light

panned wave1.3s

Clam Festival Bike Race 20100718

Panning tips
  • Use a tripod, or make sure you are in a comfortable, steady position
  • Shutter speed will depend on your subject and how quickly it is moving. Similarly, the resulting effects from each shutter speed will depend on how quickly you are moving the camera.
  • Think ahead. If you are shooting something that is moving, you will need to remember where they are heading and how long your shutter speed will take you…. It’s no good using a longer shutter speed on a horse if the horse has run off in to the distance in the time you have taken your shot! Keep the subject in the frame at all times.
  • Trial and error! Practice – this is a subjective technique and it will take trial and error to get the patterns you are looking for.
So, what do you think about panning?

Whether you are a photographer or not, what do you think about the panning technique?

Do you think it creates a masterpiece, or does it just look messy!?


Let me know!

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