August 13th 2012 by Andrew S Gibson
All you need to try out panning is a hand-held camera and something interesting to take photos of. I took these photos standing on a pier and following the motion of waves as they rolled in below me at dusk.
My panning technique was very simple – I set the exposure and focus manually then followed the wave by turning my torso from left to right, pushing the shutter button down half-way through the pan. I aimed to keep the panning speed constant all the way. The shutter speeds used varied between 1/3 second and two seconds.
One of the benefits of waiting until after the sun has disappeared is that light levels are low, enabling the use of slow shutter speeds. Contrast is also low, so you can expose to the right without clipping highlights.
The light is soft and beautiful at this time. In this case, the sun disappeared behind a nearby hill, but if you are in a location where the sun sets over the sea, there are all sorts of creative possibilities for capturing the last light of the sun sparkling on the sea.
The LCD screen is useful for seeing how well your technique is working – use the instant feedback to see the results of changing the shutter speed or other settings. As I was working in black and white, I set the Picture Style to monochrome, the filter to Red and the contrast to +3. This gave me a decent looking image on the camera’s LCD screen so I could judge how well the technique was working. I shot in Raw (I always do) for best image quality.
With semi-abstract images like this there a lot of leeway in post-processing. You have a lot of freedom to play.
These photos were taken on my new EF 40mm f2.8 STM pancake lens. There is nothing in particular about this lens that made these photos work, apart from the focal length which seemed to be ideal for these photos on my full-frame EOS 5D Mark II.