Panning is a technique that can help you improve shots of fast moving objects vastly. When done right, panning will help to keep the subject of your shot in focus, but nicely blur the background to create a sense of movement. Here are five top tips for achieving great panning results with your Nikon kit:
1. Tuck your elbows in!
Your stance when you pan will have a big effect on the quality of your shot. Make sure your feet are shoulder width apart to provide you with a stable base, and make sure your tuck your elbows in and hold the camera with both hands. Pan with your torso rather than your arms to help to combat camera wobble.
2. Use a tripod
In some panning situations, it will help to use a tripod. In motorsport photography, for example, when cars will be passing through the same image plane, you can set a tripod up in the right spot and be able to pan through on the same plane with ease. Some photographers prefer to use a tripod for panning all the time as it can produce smoother results. However, your hand held skill will improve with practice, so keep at it!
3. Consider your shutter speed
The shutter speed needed will differ depending on how long you want to pan with the subject for and how fast it is moving. When you get to the venue of your choice, the best advice would be to perform several practise pans, to get an idea of the shutter speeds needed for your subject. Use a shutter speed that's too fast, and you won't be able to blur the background, use one that's too long, and camera shake could potentially ruin the image.
4. Start panning before you press the shutter and keep going
Have the subject in your sights before your press the shutter, and start panning along, so that when you do press the shutter, you're already following the subject and there's less chance of it speeding out of the frame, resulting in a wasted shot. Keep panning through until after the shot has been taken, as if you stop panning too early the subject will blur.
5. Try not to move the camera up or down
Moving the camera vertically while you pan will result in a shaky looking blurred background, so make sure that you pan smoothly for the best results. This is where a tripod can really help, if you find you're unable to pan smoothly hand-held.
Vibration Reduction technology used in Nikon's NIKKOR lenses makes panning smoothly a lot more achievable. VR can be set to 'Active', for more erratic fast moving subjects, like horses, or if you're travelling in a vehicle while shooting. Find out more about Nikon's range of lenses on the Nikon website.