You’ve also seen images where the car or motorcycle is bright and in focus, but the background is blurred and appears to be moving. You may have believed it was a Photoshop trick at first, or that it was something only a professional sports photographer might do. Let me tell you, it’s called panning photography, and it’s a simple technique to understand.

All you have to do now is keep practicing until you have mastered the art of panning photography. To assist you, I’ve put together a list of six simple tips that will help you take perfect panning pictures.

1.Make sure your camera is set to Shutter Priority mode:

Setting the camera mode to Shutter Priority is the first step in capturing a panning picture while holding your camera. Panning photography is all about choosing the right shutter speed – aperture and ISO don’t matter nearly as much.

This mode allows you to adjust the shutter speed while the camera handles the aperture and ISO settings, which will change depending on the lighting conditions.

2. Choose a slow shutter speed:

The shutter speed is the most significant exposure factor in panning photography, as we discussed earlier. So, in order to make the subject sharp and the landscape appear to be moving, you must leave the shutter open for a long enough period of time.

The optimal shutter speed for panning images is somewhere between 1/30th and 1/125th of a second (the faster the subject is moving the faster the shutter speed needs to be). This shutter speed range gives the camera enough time to register movement in the image while holding the subject in clear focus.

3.A tripod should be used:

If you take photos with a slower shutter speed when holding the camera in your hand, your photos will have a slight shake. Mount your camera on a tripod or monopod to reduce camera shake when panning and capture sharp panning shots.

It’s likely that while panning your camera to follow the moving subject, you’re also moving your body, which will cause your camera to shake slightly. Using a tripod or monopod can limit the camera’s upward and downward movement, allowing it to only pan from side to side.

4.Focus accurately:

Because the subject is moving quickly across your frame, it is critical to accurately lock the focus on the subject. There are two approaches you can take to make the subject appear sharply focused while the background appears to be moving.

  • Automatic focusing technique: If you’re new to panning photography or aren’t sure how far the subject is from the shutter, always use the automatic focusing technique. Switch on the continuous focus tracking mode to ensure that you accurately focus on the subject (AF-C on Nikon, and AI Servo for Canon). This makes it easier for your camera to maintain focus on the subject as it travels around the frame.
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  • Manual focus technique: The safest approach is to use a manual focus technique if you know the distance at which your subject can move by. Switch the focusing mode to manual after focusing on the point where your subject will be. As your lens will not be actively searching for the subject, you will be able to click at a much faster pace. Simply pan your camera along with the moving subject and take several shots, then pick the best one.

5.Take the proper position:

Keep some distance between your camera and the moving subject so that your camera has enough room to lock the focus on the subject quickly. If you get too close to the moving subject, your lens will fail to focus on the subject because the distance between you and the subject is less than the minimum focusing distance. When the subject is really big, it’s often more difficult to hold it in the picture (close up).

When there is a contrast and at least two or more colours in the background, panning images are eye-catching. Consider a backdrop that is devoid of contrast and only has one colour; it would have little effect on your panning shot.

6.Follow the subject’s lead:

Panning photography is described as taking a picture of a moving subject while panning your camera in tandem with the subject. One thing to keep in mind is that the speed at which you pan the camera should correspond to the speed with which the subject passes through your frame. Follow the subject at the same pace from left to right (or vice versa) and don’t stop until you reach the centre (follow-through like in golf).

According to my personal experience, the best time to click the shutter release button is when the subject is parallel to your camera. This will ensure that your subject is sharp and in focus, while also allowing you to catch blur motion in the background.

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