Introduction to Panning
I was recently asked to do some photography for a new blog that’s starting and my first assignment is to take some photos of them Go-Karting for one of their first blog posts. This is actually a little bit more difficult then it sounds as the venue was indoors and the client made it very clear that he wanted to give the impression of speed in the photos. This post will show you the steps I took to get to my final photo.
How To Pan
The final photo was successful due to the panning effect I used, and this is all about tracking your moving subject with your camera at the same speed as the subject is moving, then taking a photo so that the subject remains relatively sharp and the background blurs. To create this effect, you need to set your shutter slow enough so that it captures the movement and will continue to focus between shots as you shoot in burst fire mode. The focus mode I used in my Canon camera is called AI Servo, and I believe the Nikon version is called AF-C, which stands for Auto Focus Continuous.
How I Got My Photo
Whenever I walk into a new venue, I like to take a few photos to see the sort of lighting I’m dealing with and how it looks through my camera. As i’d just walked in I had no idea where i’d take the photos and decided that this angle was as good as any to start off with, but as you’ll soon see, I didn’t stay here for too long. The initial setting I used were ISO 1600 for the low light, f/5 so the DoF wasn’t too shallow and 1/30 to prevent too much motion blur. Shooting in shutter speed priorty mode allowed me to turn up the exposure compensation 2/3 as well to compensate for the dark conditions. Shutter speed priority is the mode I used for all my photos in this post as it allowed me to prioritise over the amount of motion blur I wanted in a photo, which then allowed me to fine tune the panning effect created in the final photo. In my second photo, I doubled the shutter speed to 1/60, and that, combined with the fact that the racer had come round the corner very slow, resulted in the kart being almost frozen in the scene. It’s still a strong photo and I like the reflections and vertical lines, but it wasn’t what the client was looking for. The shutter speed was too fast for shooting in that direction.
Changing where I was pointing allowed me to capture more of the movement in my camera as the motion now went from side to side, rather then into the frame. The main problem I have with this photo was that the aperture was set to f/2.8 (part of the problem with shooting in a priority mode) and that was making my photo a little bit too soft for my liking. Another problem I have with it is that the second driver was too far behind him in the photo meaning that he was mostly just a blur, I decided that I needed to change my position. Having moved round the track a little bit, I noticed that the lighting was much better due to big windows behind me and that I could probably lower my ISO to 1000, which I did. I also lowered my shutter speed to 1/20 of a second to really capture the movement. I love this photo below but I was trying to include more then 1 racer and there was just a little too much movement in the kart for my liking. Having seen no noticeable difference in the quality of photo (largely due to the amount of blur), I decided to up my ISO speed back to 1600 to allow me to play around with my aperture a little bit more. For my final photo below, the camera was set to ISO 1600, f/4.5 at 1/20 of a second and I’ve done absolutely no post processing. Both subjects are relatively sharp and i’ve kept the left third of the frame clear to provide a sense of direction and speed. Overall, I was very happy with the photo and so was my client; here it is!