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3 Must-Knows For Using Shutter Speed To Pan

Panning is as fast and as furious as you can get with this artistic medium. Here are the three biggest must-knows to get that perfect shot.

Panning Shutter Speed GIF Panning Shutter Speed GIF  | placeholder
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Panning is a specific kind of unique photography technique that allows a picture to show a feeling of movement or speed. Think high-speed car chases and bicycle races — or, in our case, doing awesome jumps with Caleb’s skateboard. Panning is as fast and as furious as you can get with this artistic medium. And although it requires a decent amount of practice, below are the three biggest must-knows to get that perfect shot.

Panning with Shutter Speed using Moment Lens. Panning with Shutter Speed using Moment Lens. | placeholder

1. Your Synced Movement Is IMPORTANT

Panning implies motion, and it’s as simple as it sounds — moving in synchronicity with your subject as it moves in a horizontal line parallel to you, the photographer. The goal of a panned image is to capture your subject with crisp clarity, while the background behind said subject is blurred to imply swift movement.

In order to achieve this seemingly impossible feat, the goal as the photographer is to move at the exact same speed as their moving subject in a horizontal. This is how you achieve that perfect balance between your crisp subject and blurry background.

Panning with Shutter Speed using Moment Lens. Panning with Shutter Speed using Moment Lens. | placeholder


2. Follow Through

Any tennis players out there? Golfers? I’m sure y’all are fully aware of how “following through” makes or breaks the sport; the same principle applies to panning in photography.

As previously mentioned, the photographer moves with their subject in a horizontal line. They are to move from one end of the line to the next in one, fluid motion. No stops or breaks in the middle to capture — just follow through and keep moving. Failing to follow through with your movement will result in a blurry mess and the subject will come out as clear as you might hope. If you need a visual reference, take a peek at the top GIF.

This is arguably one of the most important tips to take away, as your image will be completely compromised if the photographer fails to do so.

Panning with Shutter Speed using Moment Lens. Panning with Shutter Speed using Moment Lens. | placeholder
Panning with Shutter Speed using Moment Lens. Panning with Shutter Speed using Moment Lens. | placeholder
Panning with Shutter Speed using Moment Lens. Panning with Shutter Speed using Moment Lens. | placeholder


3. Shutter Speed Settings

Now that you understand what panning is and how to do it successfully, you need to know what shutter speed settings will be best.

Your shutter speed will greatly depend on the speed of your subject, but a good rule of thumb is 1/200th of slower. 1/200th is best for high-moving subjects (like a race car!) or perhaps 1/40th if your subject if a runner on a track. 

Using an ND filter will help exposure value tremendously if your pictures is still coming out more blurry.

Caleb doing a kick-flip demonstrated "panning" using shutter speed w/ Moment Lens. Caleb doing a kick-flip demonstrated "panning" using shutter speed w/ Moment Lens. | placeholder


Panning takes butt-loads amount trial runs, but getting the hang of it is all part of the fun. Remember to move as fast as your subject, follow through with any given movement, and have a shutter speed of 1/200th or slower to achieve the perfect fast-motion blur.

‘Till next time!

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