Motion Blur Photography : Panning Photography For Beginners

Panning Photography For Beginners :

Panning is very simple and very attractive photography technique which depicts “Subject is in Motion”, thats why it is often called as “Motion Blur Photography”. This technique is called Panning and here in this article I will be explaining Panning Photography For Beginners. You just need to set shutter speed, aperture, hold your camera and pan along with moving subject i.e, tracking motion with your camera. A sharp subject with blurred background. You might think this is damn easy, but it can be a little tricky at sometimes specially when you need to keep subject in focus while moving your camera.

Lets see first how its related to capturing motion in a still picture.

Motion Blur Photography :

Since you came to this point, I assume you already know the basics of photography and you must have figured out that we have to play with shutter speed here to capture the fast moving subject. Whether you are shooting running train or a F1 Race or a moving car, the basic camera setting and technique will not change.

Now when we think about shooting moving object, there are two scenarios :

1. If you want everything in focus including background and foreground as well or Motion Blur Photography

Here you want to freeze your subject eliminating any movement, so obviously you need to play with shutter speed here. But as we all know, changing one dimension might affect other two as well which is Aperture and ISO. So you have to keep shutter speed fast enough to capture the subject with no blur.

Motion Blur Photography
Exif: Nikon D3300, Aperture: ƒ/13.0 @ 35.6 mm, Shutter speed: 30 sec, ISO: 200

Suppose if you are shooting F1 race, then 1/600 or 1/800 can give you super sharp picture but accordingly you also have to adjust aperture and make it wide enough to get the maximum light but not very wide like f/1.8 or f/1.4, this will cause the bokeh/blur effect where only foreground would be sharp but not background. You can also increase the ISO if lighting is poor and you do not want to widen your aperture.

2. If you want subject to be super sharp and you also want to show movement in image or PANNING :

The type of photography where background is blurred as if subject is moving and subject itself is super sharp, is called PANNING.  For panning I would recommend to start with shutter speed of 1/60th. If background and foreground is very sharp (this is not we want) then you will have to decrease shutter speed gradually and keep checking at which shutter speed subject is tack sharp and background is blurred showing motion.

This was taken with 1/20 of shutter speed

Panning Photography For Beginners
Exif: Nikon D3300,Aperture: ƒ/32.0 Focal Length: 200 mm Shutter Speed: 1/20 ISO : 100

Pan with Car (1/30):

Panning Photography For Beginners
Exif: Nikon D3300 Focal length: 55mm, Aperture f/8, Shutter Speed: 1/30, ISO: 200

But remember, unlike traditional photography you don’t just hold your camera and shoot.

You also need to follow or move-in (Pan) your camera along with subject. Shoot in a continuous focus mode to get continuous focus on subject, metering mode should be spot metering and use burst mode where you will have multiple shot fired for a moment and you can keep the best one.


You can pan even a slowly moving object with the right speed of your camera movement.

Also do remember, while shooting panning there should be a contrast between the subject and the background otherwise the pan will not have much effect. The background should be contrastingly different than the foreground. Prefer colorful background with light color subject or vice versa. Also don’t be so close to subject, keep some distance so that you can cover the good part of background as well. And one last thing, it takes quite bit practice to get your first perfect panning, but the final outcome is worth a hundred try.

Hope this helps … 🙂

3 thoughts on “Motion Blur Photography : Panning Photography For Beginners

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.