Photography for Beginners – Part 4 – Panning

Photography for Beginners -Art of Panning

In my last post about  photography tips , I posted about capturing still images of a subject in motion and we saw how to accomplish motion freeze of moving subjects. However, the background was not blurred and so it does not give the viewer an assumption that the subject was in motion at the time the picture was clicked.To get an effect of motion and give a realistic effect , background needs to be  blurred  . For example as seen in the picture above, the fast moving car is frozen in motion . The background blur with horizontal lines gives the impression  that the car was speeding. This technique is called Panning .It is nothing but horizontal movement of camera (panning of camera) along with the moving subject .When the camera is moved with perfect synchronized motion , the subject is actually in the same spot in the picture and appears crisp and leaves the  rest of the image blur.

  • To achieve Panning ,  I used the Tv mode or Shutter priority mode . This is good for beginners .You can also the manual mode for this technique.
  • Use a low shutter speed say 1/30 and ISO of 100 or 200 (increase the ISO for more light).For more details on shutter speed and ISO please refer to earlier posts on this.
  • Set the camera to Al – Servo mode .To set this option , using the quick finder navigate to ONE SHOT option as seen in the highlighted blue rectangle below and click on it which presents three options .Choose AI SERVO option  when given a choice as seen in the next screen.


  • Next set the Continuous shoot mode using the blue rectangle icon below


  • The capture of the vehicle should start as soon as you see the subject approaching
  • Focus in advance on  a point in the subject’s  path  where the subject will arrive .
  • Start clicking as it approaches that point and continue clicking continuously till the subject is out of view.The subject should be traveling parallel to you.
  • Here to click this  picture, I was on the walkway parallel to the road that the subject was moving  .As I saw the car approaching from the left, I focussed on a point where it will arrive, say  in a minute. As soon as it reached that point, I clicked my first shot and kept on clicking as I panned (swung/swerved) the camera lens from left to right in parallel  following the moving car  , trying to maintain the same speed as the car until the car was no longer seen.
  • To successfully pan you need to match the speed and direction of the subject perfectly and it does take a bit of practice to get that right unless you are plain lucky to get it in the first attempt. The picture above may still not be considered perfect as the back wheel is blur.Ideally the car has to be completely crisp and the background  blurry .
  • Having a steady hand is also important for panning or else a tripod with a swivel head can be used.
  • Smaller subjects like a moving cycle or bike also are good subjects for panning.
  • It is better if the the trajectory of the subjects is a straight path  to get a good panning picture.

Some great links I came across on Panning .They have some amazing example shots as well:

Mastering Panning – Photographing Moving Subjects

The Art Of Panning

Disclaimer: I am not a photography tutor or professional .This is only an effort to share the lessons and tips I learnt and refresh the concepts from the class I attended and my experiences using the digital camera.

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  • Reply
    April 19, 2017 at 11:05 am


  • Reply
    April 19, 2017 at 12:04 pm

    Thank you!

  • Reply
    April 19, 2017 at 12:15 pm

    Thanks for this wonderful post! It is very useful for me.

    • Reply
      April 19, 2017 at 1:11 pm

      I am glad it is helpful.Thank you!

  • Reply
    da AL
    April 19, 2017 at 8:12 pm

    good info!

  • Reply
    April 19, 2017 at 8:50 pm

    Thank you !

  • Reply
    April 20, 2017 at 11:25 am

    Superb and so helpful!

  • Reply
    April 20, 2017 at 11:33 pm

    informative and nice blog

    • Reply
      April 21, 2017 at 9:43 am

      Thank you so much Deepa!

  • Reply
    June 28, 2017 at 5:35 pm

    Thank You! This helps a lot.

    • Reply
      July 16, 2017 at 6:13 pm

      Thank you very much, apprecaite your feedback!

  • Reply
    May 3, 2018 at 1:33 am

    I can learn so much from you!

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