How to take panning shots?
Sports Photography Bird Photography Basic Photography
Amit K Srivastava
October 14, 2016

Every time I click a picture

I wake up in a different culture

What amazes me more is not the beauty…

But the positive aura of the holy deity

-The Photo-Hippie


Photography is exploring the world outside and within you. Nature and wildlife photography give you time to contemplate and explore amidst the very goodness of nature, giving you more satisfaction and peace than anything else.

Talking of it, it reminds me of my panning sessions which help me garb the nature’s blanket fully. In simple terms, I capture everything I want. So what is panning and how to take panning shots? Read on to get your answers.

What is panning?

Panning is a technique in photography where you pan your camera in the direction of the moving subject and the click the picture. The difference is that you get a blurred background that gives the feeling of speed and movement. The subject is sharp and background is blurred. Example include, fast moving subjects like cyclist, motorist, racing cars, and birds flying like below



(With panning the airplane appears to be moving due to the blurred background)


(With panning the airplane appears to be stopped)

How to take panning shots?

There are no rules with panning but here’s the basic list of steps to follow to get successful panning shots.

  1. Stay stable

Maintain a standing stance such that you stay stable which is important for slow shutter speed to click a suitable blurred background.

  1. Position your camera

Hold your camera tight keeping it close in front of your face. Adjust the viewfinder for the best view.

  1. Chase the moving subject and click

Once you aim the moving subject with the AF point, gently twirl your body to move your camera at suitable speed such that AF point remains on the moving subject. Click the shutter button at your best instinct when you feel the time is right.

Tip- Twirl from your waist rather than your neck for better stability. Also do not press the shutter button too hard as it can shake you and click a blurred subject.


Many people ask me why would someone use flash during panning? Well, flash does to freeze your subject as the camera fires. The shutter speed ensures a blurred background while the flash ensures a sharp subject, both of which are important ingredients of a successful panning shot.

If you think that your subject is too close for a flash fire to give the desired impact, you can opt for another technique known as slow sync flash. This technique involves slow shutter speed and flash.

It is also important that you practice and perfect your panning speed. It’s because if you twirl too slow or too fast compared to your subject, the entire photo can end up being blurred or distorted or entirely frozen making the panning process unfruitful. Test the various intense levels of flash while practicing panning shots to understand how a particular level helps you capture a desired shot.

Sports Photography Bird Photography Basic Photography
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Amit K Srivastava
A Photography Enthusiast motivated to empower individuals in photography
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