33 : Panning

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When Life's a Blur

We have already practiced freezing motion using a fast shutter speed. Now it's time to try your hand at panning, a technique which uses an intentionally slower shutter speed to give a feeling of action and movement.

This week we will explore panning, a “hit and miss” technique, which shows blur created from motion. You will need several tries to find a shot that you love. Be patient... each attempt yields new surprises!

IN-DEPTH WITH HELEN BARTLETT

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CAMERA / LENS: Canon 1DX | 35mm f/1.4
EXPOSURE: 1/30 sec | f/13 | ISO 100

This photograph was taken at a children’s playground during a family photo shoot. I live in the city and so a lot of my pictures are taken at local parks; there are so many great opportunities but it can be a challenge to create something different each time. I’m always on the lookout for something new.

When Issy was whizzing around and around on the roundabout I decided to try a slow shutter speed to capture the sense of movement. I turned the ISO to 100 and shutter speed right down to 1/30th, while setting the aperture to f13 to capture as much detail as possible. I then panned the camera in a circular motion as Issy spun round – moving the camera in sync with the movement while the shutter was open to capture detail in some areas of the image while getting the blur of speed in others. I took a number of images and this one worked out perfectly.

I try to experiment a bit on every photo shoot I do – not everything works out every time, but the successes are often some of my favorite photographs and the failures allow me to learn for the next time. Panning takes practice, but it’s a great technique for capturing movement in children’s photography. So much of life is led at high speed for the little ones; it’s lovely to create images that show this.

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The best part about learning this kind of challenging technique is that there's almost always room to improve... so grab those cameras, set your children in motion, and start snapping!


Tips

  1. Choose an activity that has motion you can track from right to left (or left to right) such as a child moving past you on a scooter. Make sure the action is not moving directly toward you or away from you.
     
  2. Set your camera to a slow shutter speed. Start around 1/30th. Raise your aperture if necessary.
     
  3. Using a tripod, or stabilizing yourself against something solid, take several shots as the action moves past you, moving your camera with the subject. Continue moving with the subject, even after you stop shooting, to finish out the motion.
     
  4. Get the feel of moving the camera and shooting at the same time. You will have more success if your focus is set to "continuous".
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Share your images!

As always, we look forward to seeing your images in the Facebook group! If you have never posted a picture, it's fine to start any time. The Facebook group is a positive, no-judgement zone. We also hope that reach out for advice or help if you need it!