No one guarantees to take perfect pans, but through patience and a grasp of panning basics, you can gradually grow to become an expert in panning. Panning is not necessarily about movement, it is the movement that makes this type of photography challenging. Following a moving subject to take clear photos that also highlight motion could prove impossible if you are not skilled enough. Conceptually, panning is easy because all you need is to set the speed of the shutter to blur or freeze motion then make sure you move with the camera as you capture. With the right techniques as highlighted below, you will have easy time taking photos of objects in motion.
Choose the shutter speed
Many workshop students ask their instructors to guide them on the right shutter speed to choose while taking panning shots. This question cannot be given a definite answer because each subject moves at a different speed. Therefore, the shutter speed one should choose is dependent on the speed of the subject and this is where the biggest challenge lies. In a case where the subject flashes through the frame, you can stand still and wait for an opportune moment to take the perfect shot. However, to enhance accuracy, before taking any shots makes sure to move with the subject and it will be easier to capture clear shots.
Using flash allows you to take clear photos. Ensure to set the speedlight for the rear curtain sync so the flash can fire towards the end of the exposure. Combining low shutter speeds and rear curtain sync offers a blur effect that results from the ambient light illuminated by the scene, which allows you to get flowing-light patterns while following the movement of the subject.
Make a focus choice
Experts will advise you to choose autofocus or a method you feel most comfortable with. Don’t use a technique you know you are not proficient in yet regardless of how well it is rated by top photographers. Comfort enhances your focus on the subject and you can come up with clear shots that reflect the motion portrayed by the subject. Using a focus choice you can choose the AF-ON feature to achieve more focus. But you have to be keen since once you release the button the camera jumps back to normal mode. If the subject is moving through an unpredictable path, it is advisable to use the AF-C feature, which offers continuous servo focus.
Tripod-mounted or hand-held?
If your subject is moving through a predictable plane, a tripod would be a good idea to allow you to achieve more focus. Rocco Basile advises that a solid stance and elbow arms can come in handy if fixed well to follow the movement of the subject. For those who think they can achieve more accuracy with a hand-held setup, you are advised to choose what you feel will work best for you. Remember panning is about what works for you and whether you are comfortable with the technique you choose.