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Simple Panning Technique for DSLR Cameras

Guest Author - Peggy Farren

What is the panning technique? Panning is when you follow a moving subject with your camera, and blur the background in a streaking pattern. It is simple but not easy! It will take some practice, but you will love it! It is so cool!

Panning is really difficult with a point and shoot camera so you will need a DSLR camera to master this technique.

In my opinion, it is easiest to practice on moving cars or bicycles since they are usually readily available.

1. Start by turning your dial on your camera to Shutter Priority. This is TV on the Canon, S on the Nikons. TV stands for Time Value. S stands for Shutter.
In Shutter Priority, you determine the shutter speed; your camera will determine the aperture to get a good exposure.

2. Set your ISO for the conditions; ISO100 for bright sunny day, ISO400 for overcast. Or use Auto ISO, which is available on some of the newer cameras.

3. Use a lens that is 50mm to 150mm focal length. Choose your best length and leave it. Do not zoom during panning.

4. Set your drive mode to Continuous on the Canon, Burst on the Nikon. On most Canons, you will see an icon either on the top of the camera or back. You usually will not have to go into the Menu.
Nikons, hit your INFO button to find your drive mode. The Continuous or Burst icon is a square with repeating squares on the side. If you cannot find it easily, look in your manual for directions.

5. Set your shutter speed to 1/30 to start. You may vary your shutter from 1/10 to 1/100, depending on the speed of the subject. This is where you will experiment.

6. Hold your camera correctly. Your right hand is on the grip; your left hand is face up, acting as a base for your camera to rest on. Your elbows are tight against your body and the camera is up at your eye. You are your own tripod!

7. When the subject comes close, keep your feet firmly on the ground and swivel your body in an even movement, all while pressing down the shutter button for a continuous series of pictures.

That is it! It is simple, but again, not easy. Do not get frustrated if it takes you many tries to get a really cool panning effect.

Here are some more tips:
Vary your shutter speed to get different effects.

You might want to put your lens on manual focus at the spot your subject will be. It may or may not be easier to get a clear subject and motion blurred background. The default is usually AF-S on the Nikon or One Shot on the Canon. In this focal mode, you may accidentally focus on the background.

Or you can learn to change your focal mode to AI Servo on the Canons and AF-C on the Nikon cameras. This focal mode will help your camera track and continuously focus on a moving subject.

Composition rules apply. Remember to leave room in front of a moving object for a pleasing image.

The ideal time of day is during the magic hours of either right before sunset or after sunrise when the lighting is soft. But do not let that stop you from practicing at whatever time is convenient for you!

You may want to have an extra-large capacity memory card as you will be taking a lot of pictures!

Do not forget to put your camera back into ONE SHOT Drive mode and auto focus or you might be surprised the next time you try to take a photograph!

Have fun experimenting!
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Content copyright © 2014 by Peggy Farren. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Peggy Farren. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Ewa Sapinska for details.

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