Digital cameras remove most of the thinking, allowing us take perfect photos automatically. Usually we demand that snapshots are sharp, which digital cameras do effortlessly. But freeze-framing a scene with movement and action can limit our experience of it. By embracing blur – letting go of absolute sharpness – you can create dramatic photographs that capture this sense of movement, leading viewers to the main subject.
Panning – moving with your subject – is an easy technique, requiring only a camera that will allow you to change the shutter speed and ISO film speed settings. By deliberately choosing a slow shutter speed, the background of your scene blurs, leaving your subject as the only thing in focus.
- Shutter-priority: 1/100sec (camera will automatically change the aperture to get the correct exposure)
- ISO: 100 or 200 – for daytime, increase as necessary for low light
- Focus: Continuous – if your camera has this feature (AF-C, AI Servo)
Once your target is in the viewfinder, move smoothly with it – selecting a focus point – and choose the right moment to capture it. Keep following your target as you press the shutter. Leave extra space around the subject so that you have room for error and can creatively crop it.
Walkerville Dare 2 Dream Soap Box Derby, 2013
The soap box derby is a bi-annual ‘non-motorised’ box car race to raise funds for the Dare 2 Dream Non-Profit Organisation (PDF). This was an ideal event to practice capturing the action using the panning technique:
The IEA Elite Open Day, 2016
The Immaculate Equestrian Academy Elite is an academic and equestrian academy situated in Walkerville, 20 minutes south of Joburg. For their open day show jumping event, I tried to capture the action using the panning technique: