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20 August 2013


Shutter priority, f22, 1/20s, ISO 100 (Olympus Pen E-PL1 + 14-45mm @ 14mm)

Aside from zoom burst (or zoom blur), there is another technique you can use to imply motion in your images. It is called panning.

Zoom burst creates motion by turning your zoom lens while your camera is stationary. On the other hand, the panning technique requires the photographer to move the camera parallel to, and at the same speed as the action or subject focus. Oftentimes, slow shutter speeds are used in this technique.

Panning enables the photographer to keep the main subject, e.g. moving car or cyclist, clearly in focus while the background is a blurred motion.

Here are some steps I adapted from the magazine Photography for Beginners:

  1. Use Shutter Priority mode to control shutter speed.
  2. Choose shutter speed, e.g. start with 1/50sec and experiment further.
  3. Use continuous auto-focus mode to keep the subject in focus.
  4. Use continuous burst mode to increase chances of an excellent shot.
  5. Stabilise your camera for best possible results, e.g. use monopod or tripod, steady hands.
  6. Shoot the action keeping an eye on the subject as they enter your frame.

The few photos I've taken through panning are far from excellent, thus far. This technique is very tricky to master. The top photo I took of my son during my first attempt late last year is the best I could come up out of eight shots. Even so, this is not a proper panning shot just yet. After the shots, I realised I did not really followed the steps above.

The photo below is of my same son that I took during their school Sports Day last July. I think this is better but still a long way to go.

Shutter priority, f10, 1/160s, ISO 200 (Olympus Pen E-PL2 + 40-150mm @ 40mm)

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