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on Jan 2, 2019 in Aviation

New Year’s Resolution – Panning!

P-51D Mustang
captured by D4s / 80-400VR2

There are lots of great New Year’s resolutions but one I don’t hear making the list is, improving one’s panning skills. I hear about buying gear or learning a software, but improving the most important aspect of photography, ourselves seems to get little love. Panning can only get better with practice, lots of practice! Unlike most other things in photography, if you need great panning tomorrow and you don’t have it today, you are screwed! So how about a New Year’s resolution of vastly improving your panning skills, starting today?! Here’s how.

Piper PA-11
captured by D5 / 80-400VR2

It starts by making proper hand-holding second nature so you start by practicing this technique, every day! I literally have a camera in my hand every day set to Manual, 1/20 (I practice with the D5 / 180-400VR at 400mm) focusing on and shooting items in the office getting a sharp photo. It just takes five minutes but it makes a difference. Then as often as I can during the week, I practice my panning photographing our dog Sadie as she runs around the property (currently practicing with Z6 / 70-200f4). I know this sounds really silly and I’m sure it looks even sillier if you were to watch me, but practicing and perfecting that muscle memory permits me to use this incredibly important tool whenever I need it. Bird flight and aircraft in the air are my classic examples of needing panning. The Mustang shot above, I was using a fast shutter speed for me, 1/50 while shooting the launch. While the Mustang is sharp, the background is not as blurred as I wanted. Knowing my own goof-ups, in the rush to get the shot (I was in Shutter Priority), I probably changed the shutter speed when I was lowering my exp comp and didn’t notice I hit the Shutter Speed in the process. But this just illustrates the importance of practicing panning because while I was messing with those controls, I was able to get a sharp image. Below is my video on panning basics. Remember to practice, practice, practice making panning a successful New Year’s Resolution!

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