FG-1D Corsair captured by D4 / 200-400f4
Panning in its most basic form, is moving the film plane in sync with a moving subject to capture it sharp in the photograph. This synchronization nullifies the movement of the subject as far as the camera is concerned so we have effectively, frozen a moving subject. This is a very old technique and for it to be effective, as far as rendering a sharp, frozen moving subject, it must be practiced on a continual basis. I’m talking about a minimum of once a week in order to make it a tool in your arsenal that will serve you whenever you need it. This is basic, human, muscle memory training which is what panning boils down to in its most simplest terms.
F-22 Raptor captured by D5 / 180-400VR
But just capturing a sharp image cannot be an in point to our photograph, its just the start. We must push our craft past just sharp so then panning becomes a means to art. These photographs of a FG-1D Corsair and F-22 Raptor are an example of what I’m talking about. Shot on a gorgeous days when the background is as much of the photograph as the plane itself. Where panning is including them to finish the story, becoming art. The fall color and great clouds all being brought to life with gorgeous light. Shooting handheld with a D4 / 200-400 and D5 / 180-400VR is a big part of the art. I put myself in position so when the aircraft made its pass, the gesture of the aircraft was set against the background I wanted, the background making the aircraft pop out with the light bringing it all to life. Yes, panning is why the Corsair & Raptor are sharp but moving past the technique and to the art, panning is what brought all those elements to life in the photo. Push your technique so it is the building block to your art and then your photography will take life. Panning is more than a technique, panning is art.