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Photographing moving objects: add motion to boost emotion...

 16th Jul 2009

Photographing moving objects - use panning to create blurringDo your photos all seem a bit static and bland? Capture the idea of ‘speed’ by adding blurring to fast-moving objects.

Using a fast shutter speed to ‘freeze’ an object at high speed might give you pin-sharp focus but without movement some photos can look cold and clinical.

Photographing moving objects: using 'panning' to create blurring

Try using a technique called ‘panning’ to enhance your photos with a ‘blur’ effect.

The aim is to keep your subject as sharp as you can while blurring the background.

Just slow down the shutter speed and track the object you want to shoot. It makes photographing moving objects easier and your pictures more exciting.

If you’ve never tried it before, it can be slightly harder than it looks -­ not least because today’s highly automated digital cameras will do everything they can to reduce blur!

You will need manual override facilities on your camera and training is essential if you are to get the best out of them.

But in the meantime, here are some handy tips if you want to try panning when photographing moving objects…

  • Tip 1. If you can’t get your shutter speed low enough without over-exposing the picture, try reducing your camera’s ISO setting to its lowest point.
  • Tip 2. If after lowering your camera's ISO you still can't get a slow enough shutter speed to blur motion, get yourself a couple of Neutral Density filters which act like sunglasses for your camera ­ they lower light levels and make everything darker. A polarising filter will have a similar effect.
  • Tip 3. Don’t be tempted to increase speed of a moving object by panning in the opposite direction -­ that will blur the subject beyond recognition. There are ways round this but they’re very advanced.

To learn more about composition and lighting, watch our Photography Videos and read more free tips like these.

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