A downside of freezing action is that it can look static and no longer conveys the action. Pictures of moving subjects often look more dynamic if the subject is sharp with a blurred background. The technique is called Panning and is achieved with two variables, slowing shutter speed and moving the camera with the subject, at the same speed as it’s moving.
You can use the technique of panning to add elements of motion to images with any camera and you don’t have to shoot high-speed subjects, either. Panning can be used to add a sense of movement to relatively slow subjects, as the motion blur can make them appear to be travelling much more rapidly than they were in reality.
- Face your chosen background and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart for stability. Only the upper part of your body should move during the pan, so twist at the waist to follow the action.
- Using Continuous shooting, press the shutter button well before the subject reaches your intended spot, and keep shooting until your subject has passed through it.
Using a smooth motion, track your subject, but don’t just do this when you are actually shooting. Follow your subject before, during and after, keeping your camera and yourself as stable as possible, minimising vertical and tilt motions. Make sure to switch off your image stabilizer unless you are shooting with a lens with the option of IS mode 2, In this mode, the IS system will correct for vertical shake but not the horizontal motion of the camera as you follow the action.
Panning the camera at the same speed as a moving subject and getting a subject sharp takes practice in relation to both shutter speed and panning motion.
The ideal speed depends on a number of factors: how fast your subject is moving, the distance between you and your subject, the lens you are using, and how much of a blur effect you want to achieve.
Camera panning is a great skill to have, and the secret to achieving an impressive pan is practice. Panning requires good camera control, so there is no substitute for experience.
From my own experience of rallying and motor cross, a good starting point in relation to shutter speed is 1/125 of a second. As you get more comfortable with your panning action and subjects, try slower shutter speeds to create more blur. Make sure to switch off your image stabilizer unless you are shooting with a lens with an option 2 mode, In this mode, the IS system will correct for vertical shake but not the horizontal motion of the camera as you follow the action.
Some subjects may require a faster shutter speed to prevent them becoming a complete blur. For example, a racing car will probably need a faster shutter speed than a cyclist.
When it comes to photographing cars, it can be like shooting into a mirror, everything is reflected off the car and if you won’t to see the drivers, that’s where a circular polarizing filter can be very handy.
A circular polarizer is arguably the most useful photography filter you can own and the most important must-have tool for instantly improving images while out in the field. Unlike other filters, a polarizer’s effects cannot be mimicked in Photoshop. Circular polarizers work by blocking certain light waves from hitting the camera lens. Rotating the polarizer allows certain light waves to pass through, while blocking other light waves. A polarizer can transform an image increase saturation, contrast, and depth and help remove reflections.