Friday, December 14, 2007


One of our earlier posts talked about being a little more selective about which photos to keep through more and better self-editing. We've also have talked about spicing up the collection of images you show others by using silhouettes. Both were about keeping your audience interested. In that same vein let's talk about panning. Capturing someone or something in motion. On the surface panning looks easy. Just follow along with your subject and click away. True to some extent but, as with everything, it does require some amount of practice. Matching the pace of your subject isn't always easy. (Direction changes, speed changes, unsteady hands.) Also, adding flash to the equation helps add a little dynamism. Here are two panned images. One with flash and one without. This first photo I captured down on the C&O Canal towpath. I noticed a rider coming along and set my camera to a slow shutter speed. As he approached I fixed a focus point on him and followed along all the while making sure that focus point never left his body. I clicked off about three or four shots before he passed. The trees make for a good background and are well blurred to convey actual motion.

This second shot is with the flash. In this case I asked John to walk past me a couple times while I photographed him. After a couple beers he is a most willing subject! Anyway, the background is underexposed by about one full stop. This helps make the subject (John) really stand out when the flash hits him. The flash also stops the action, which keeps John sharp yet the background remains blurred. Cool effect, I think!

Next time you have your camera out remember motion. Follow along as someone walks by. See a really nifty looking car coming up the road? Pan it! Watching a child's baseball game? No better opportunity to practice than when they are running down to first base. Try it out...and above all have fun!



  1. The first one makes me motion sick if I look at it too long. ;-)

    Both are great shot of course.

    Now you have to join me once and try that technique out as the subject passes you by at 185mph.


  2. Someday...I swear! Anything close by? Richmond seems too much. Dover perhaps?

  3. They are both really the same distance. The best shooting day, Friday, can be a long day but it’s fun and maybe you'll see a crash or two. ;-P