Sports Photography Tips - Panning With Your Camera.

Sports photography example of panning the camera. The technique requires you to follow a moving subject with your camera as you watch it through the viewfinder. Whilst panning the camera you press the shutter release and continue to pan the camera with the subject. The key to successful panning is timing and a steady hand.

I have a few practice pans before I take a photograph for real. (This goes back to when I was shooting film and every press of the shutter meant a used frame. Oh how much I love digital). The practice pan allows you to pick out the spot at which you are happiest with the expected composition and therefore when you need to press the shutter.

I will pick up my subject through the view finder as far away as possible. This gives me time to position them correctly in the frame and get used to the speed they are travelling. I then track them as they move towards me. I will have my shutter finger poised over the release and as the subject passes by at the point I have decided I will take the shot I press the shutter release. Make your shutter release action as gentle as possible to reduce the up and down movement of the camera. I then keep panning as the subject moves past me, keeping the pan as smooth as possible. This then means the blur will be in a straight line and not like a mountain range profile.

Key to a good panning technique is your stance. I keep my feet a shoulder-width apart and parallel to the direction of my subject. I will then move my body from left to right (if that's the direction of my pan), only from the hips up. I expect to press the shutter when my body is completely in line, neither twisted left or right.

What I look for from my panned images is a fluid background and a sharpish subject. I don't like a subject to be too blurred but a little blurring adds to the dynamic. Most of the time blur is a bad thing. It ruins what should be a sharp image. However there are times when it will make your image stand out and is a great tool to have in your creative belt.

The image I have included here is a GP rider moving very quickly so the shutter speed is around 1/15th to 1/30th of a second. The lens was a 300mm. As you can see the background blurs nicely which brings your eye right on to the main subject in this case the GP rider.

As I said previously, this is a difficult technique to master and you will take some shots that aren't up to much so you have to persevere. However when you do get it right the results are very pleasing. As with most things, practice will make perfect.

Quick Tip Practice a lot and understand the various blur effects you get with different shutter speeds.

If you enjoyed this article why not take a look at another article, Consider Your Background - Click Here.

Remember to always think safety first when you're out shooting sports. Never put yourself or others in danger and always observe all safety notices and instructions.


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