Panning is a motion photography technique that allows for the moving subject to be in focus while the background is blurred. The technique is slightly difficult to master and successfully pull-off, but after some practice it will become second nature. Like blur motion photography, panning uses a long shutter speed that can change depending on the amount of blur you wish to show.
To perform panning motion photography, the photographer needs to follow the moving subject at an even pace while the shutter is open and the film is exposed. If done properly, the subject will be in focus while the background is blurred. Following the subject too fast or too slow may result in the subject having minor blur as it moves by.
Use a Tripod for Panning
For a more fluid motion when moving the camera, a tripod is recommended. A sturdy tripod will keep the camera steady and allow for a smooth pan from left to right, or tilt up or down. Panning can be done with the camera held in hand, but should only be done if you have a steady hand. If you are panning from left to right, any minor camera shaking will result in additional, unwanted blur.
When learning this basic photography technique, you should start with objects moving left to right (or vice versa) as it will be simpler to follow them with the camera. Additionally, the subject should be parallel to your camera at all times. If the subject is moving away or toward you, it will not only be difficult to follow them with the camera, but you may also run into focusing issues. So keeping the subject at a parallel will make it easier for you to accomplish panning.
Additional Motion Photography
Panning motion photography is not the only way to capture motion in film photography. You can also try blur motion or frozen motion. Blur motion uses a long shutter speed, like panning, but you do not follow the subject. The result will be a blurry subject and a well-focused background. Frozen motion uses a fast shutter speed to capture a single moment, while the subject is in motion.