13 Panning Photography Tips – Complete Guide

13 Panning Photography Tips – Complete Guide

Panning photography is a special technique that can be achieved by a slow shutter speed combined with camera motion resulting in an additional speed effect around a moving subject. The focus aims at the subject that is acting against a blurred background.

You can apply the photography panning effect only to a subject that is moving in a horizontal position like a running vehicle or moving person. This technique is also popular for taking shots of sporting events, running animals, or other areas where speed is in the main focus.

Panning Photography Tips for Amateurs

It may seem to you that the photography panning technique is hard to learn. But actually, you can master it after getting acquainted with some technical and visual tricks. Have a little bit of patience and you’ll easily take panning shots.

1. Key Camera Settings for Panning Photography

panning photography key camera settings

The first rule is to know the correct panning photography settings and be able to adjust them on your camera. Here are some common settings that famous photographers use.

2. Set a Slow Shutter Speed

slow shutter speed panning photography

Although there are common settings for such a shooting, you need to know about the individual configurations that allow you to achieve this effect. The most important of them is shutter speed.

To produce stunning panning shots, you should use the shutter speed that ranges from 1/30th to 1/125th of a second.

Setting an appropriate shutter speed depends on various factors like the speed of the moving subject, light conditions, the position of a photographer in relation to the subject that is being shot. One more crucial condition is that you have to start moving with the subject of your photoshoot before you press the shutter button, and then go on moving with the subject after its activation.

3. Adjust the Camera Focus

camera focus panning photography

To take great panning shots, you need to adjust the focus of your optical device. It will allow you to get a detailed and vivid picture. Nowadays many cameras are equipped with an automatic focus that facilitates your task while shooting. However, if the automatic feature doesn’t perform well, you need to activate the continuous autofocus.

If your camera for panning photography isn’t fitted with continuous autofocus, you should control the focus manually. This is a more difficult task and requires some skills and much practice. Though many photographers claim that manual control is better and effective in this regard.

4. Select Continuous Shooting Mode

continuous shooting mode panning photography

Present-day cameras for photography are equipped with such a helpful feature as continuous shooting mode that enables a photographer to work at 6fps. This setting will allow you to take stunning panning shots with a focus on a moving subject against a blurred background.

With the help of continuous shooting mode, even amateur photographers will be able to produce amazing panning photography results. Moreover, even professional photographers sometimes use this mode, as it really preforms well.

5. Disable Image Stabilization

fixthephoto image stabilization panning photography fixthephoto image stabilization panning photography

Some optical devices like Nikon photography cameras are equipped with an image stabilization mechanism that allows you to forget about shaking or vibration while realizing panning photography ideas. Switch this function on before shooting, and you’ll get stunning results.

Use image stabilization only when the lens of the camera supports an advanced image stabilization mode. Some devices have IS 2 mode that ignores motion in the direction of panning while prevention camera shaking.

6. Choose the Vibration Reduction Edge

vr edge panning photography

You can use Active and Normal VR edges during shooting. The Active mode is helpful when you need to capture a subject with many moving parts like a horse rider at the race, etc. Even if the subject moves chaotically, you’ll be able to get sharp images with the help of this feature. Opt for the Normal edge mode for taking panning shots of the subjects that move horizontally on a smooth surface. These can be cars, boats, bikes, etc.

7. Differentiate Between Panning Vs. Motion Blur

panning photography vs motion blur

Photography panning and motion blur are different techniques. The main subject of a panning shot should be sharp, have a minimal blurring, and seem to be frozen in a photo. You need to create an effect of a moving background instead. To achieve this effect, pan your optical device along with the moving subject of your photoshoot.

8. Keep the Correct Distance

keeping the correct distance panning photography

Distance is one of the most important factors for producing qualitative panning shots. It is better to choose a position that is far away from the subject. Such a long distance will ensure that the lenses have enough time to capture the subject.

Keep in mind that the further the subject is located, the more slow-moving it will appear. A close position to the subject will prevent you from capturing enough blurred background that is used for creating a necessary motion effect.

9. Move Along with Your Main Subject

moving with subject panning photography

Don’t wait until the subject will get into your shot, move along with it. By staying at the same place, you will not be able to achieve the stunning panning shot effect. Pay attention to the fact that your speed and the speed of a subject should be the same.

When the subject is in parallel with your lens, activate the shutter release button. Such a technique will help you focus on the main subject while creating a blurred background effect.

10. Choose Colorful Backgrounds

choosing colorful background panning photography

An appropriate background is a crucial factor for this genre. Some shooting situations require a plain background, but the majority of them will only win from the richness of colors, a variety of objects, and things that will appear against the backdrop. People or some clumsy objects that fall into the frame are not a problem, as they will be blurred. The main focus will remain on the moving subject.

The color scheme of the background should contain at least three colors. The more shades a backdrop has, the livelier and more interesting the image will be.

11. Choose Appropriate Camera

choosing best camera for panning photography

If you are interested in panning photography, you need to have a powerful, full-frame camera that is capable of taking HD images and shooting 6.0fps. These characteristics will let you capture sharp pictures even in a fast-moving environment. All these features are incorporated in Canon EOS 5D MarkIII.

When it comes to a lens, focus your attention on Canon EF 24-105mmf/4LISII. This camera is equipped with a high-performance constant-aperture f/4 zoom lens that ensures a wide field of view. Its image stabilization feature will be especially helpful for panning photography enthusiasts.

12. Apply Flash if Needed

using flash in panning photography

We advise you to use Canon Speedlite 430EX II. This model ensures accurate flash exposure under various conditions like lighting that bounced off the wall or ceiling.

To get sharper panning shots, use an additional flash. It will only work if you are close enough to the subject. Many photographers prefer a rear curtain sync flash that is used to intensify the motion blur and to capture the moving subject effectively.

Using flash technique presupposes that the flash will be activated just before the closure of the shutter. Coupled with low shutter speed, it will produce a blur effect with flowing-light patterns following the subject that is in motion.

13. Use Monopod or Tripod

using tripod panning photography

When you are moving along a dynamic subject and keep the camera suspended, the final image may be fuzzy because of shaking hands. So, it would be better if you set your camera on a monopod or tripod.

To avoid unpleasant outcome due to shaky hands, use a monopod or tripod while moving along with the subject. These accessories are necessary for professional photographers.

One of the best tripod brands on the market nowadays is Torjim 60”.

A tripod has the feet made of rubber that ensure stability even in rough terrain. Thanks to its 1/4"quick release plate, you can install and remove a camera from the tripod.

Freebies for Panning Photography

Use Free Dirty Overlays to enhance the look of your panning shots with retro or other spectacular effects that will make your images even more captivating.

These overlays were created by blending photos of dirty backgrounds and muddy textures resulting in a natural “dirty noise” look.

These effects are perfect for applying a vintage effect to panning photos, graphic designs or other types of visual media.

panning photography dirt overlays collection