Shooting Tips for Amateur Photographers: Panning

Blurred bumper cars whiz by caught by a photographer's panning technique.


To pan the camera means to move it along with the subject, using a slow enough shutter speed so that the image will blur, some parts more than others. It’s best to lock focus and start moving with the subject before depressing the shutter, continuing to move the camera for a bit after the shutter closes. This guarantees you won’t stop moving before the shutter finishes its job.

Those of you whose cameras have the ability to track focus should use that function, locking focus before starting the exposure.

Tv (“Time value” aka “Shutter Priority”) is the best of the automatic modes to use for this application as it will expose every frame at the same shutter speed. Check your camera’s screen to see if the effect is something you like. If you need more blur, set a longer shutter speed. Less blur requires a faster shutter speed, which will retard some of the action.