Panning: It’s All A Blur…Almost

Wildebeest running in the Mara Triangle, Kenya

From the first moment I learned about slow shutter speed panning last year,  I can’t seem to get enough. It’s like a little dose of Christmas on your LCD. You don’t really know if you’ve got a winner until you look at your photos. When I nail it I’m giddy. And there’s different types of “nailing” it, and I really like that too. Sometimes I love the way an image has a cave painting quality, other times it’s all about the clarity defined within the blur.

What’s panning you ask?

It’s when you focus on a subject that’s moving from left to right (or vice versa) in front of you, and you follow its movement at a slow shutter speed. If you’re successful, the subject, or at least the head if you’re shooting wildlife, comes out sharper than the rest of the image. It takes a lot of practice but it’s loads of fun—at least I think so—and it gives a picture a wonderful sense of movement.

Wildebeest runs across the Masai Mara

During my last trip, a very large herd of wildebeest gave us ample opportunity to pan. They would pick up speed as they moved in front of our vehicle and for over 30 minutes they moved as if we paid them to do it.

I just love it when that happens….

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