What is Panning in Photography

Last Updated on March 17, 2021

what is panning photography

Panning in photography is when a photographer takes a picture of a moving subject, they do so by moving the camera in a manner that follows the moving subject. When panning in photography you must be sure that the speed at which you follow your subject is the same rate as the moving subject.

Following the subject as they move  across your field of vision maintain the subject in the middle of your view.

When panning be sure that you snap your picture as the subject is parallel with the camera and this will make sure that the subject remains in focus and avoid subject blur. The key to taking quality shots while panning is practice. This technique is learned quickly but it takes practice to get consistent and excellent results.

Tips to take spectacular panning photography shots

When taking panning photography shots I generally set my camera to shutter priority mode. The shutter speed at which you shoot will make a huge impact on the quality of your shots and the aperture and the ISO values are less important with this particular technique.

Shutter priority mode will give you the ability to make adjustments to your shutter speed and adjust according to your current lighting conditions. This will allow you to fine-tune and find the perfect setting for your particular environment.

Due to the fact that your subjects are moving when utilizing the panning photography technique, a slow shutter speed will help you maintain a clear subject without blur. This will give sharper edges to your subject and the background will be blurred which will intone the feel of motion. The shutter speed that I choose usually falls between 1/30 of a second to 1/125 of a second. When choosing your shutter speed the faster that the subject you are shooting is moving the corresponding shutter speed should be faster as well.

When doing panning photography, I am often doing street photography and I like to have a tripod handy. When doing panning a tripod will help minimize the up and down movements as you are panning helping you keep your subject right in the frame where you need it. Shaking while panning is common for beginners and this will lower the quality of your shots creating blurrier subjects. A tripod will help you maintain a steadier panning technique.

Another important aspect to keep in mind is how to maintain focus on your subject while panning. There are generally two ways that photographers focus their cameras. Automatic focus, or AF, is generally what a beginner will use when practicing their panning technique.

Automatic focus can do a pretty good job of maintaining your subjects in focus while panning and it does this automatically depending upon the quality of your camera.

A more experienced photographer will usually opt for manual focus instead. Using manual focus takes practice as you must know the distance that your subject will be when you are shooting, which requires plenty of practice. But even beginners should practice with manual focusing as this will increase the quality of your shots quicker.

When setting yourself up to take pictures of moving subjects it is important that you position yourself correctly. Knowing where your subject will pass you will allow you to put yourself in the position to get the best shot possible. This will allow you to take focus and background into consideration as well. if you do not position yourself properly you may find that you are not able to keep the subject in the frame adequately. This comes down to your eye as a photographer and the more you practice the better you will get.

For more photography guides and tips read these articles