I suspect a lot of photographers can relate to the scenario of arriving on location with your camera but without much certainty about what to do with it. This happens to me a lot. It’s not like we always have the luxury of having every frame mapped out before we even arrive. Sometimes, there is a foggy vagueness that you need to contend with before things begin falling into place. When this happens, it helps to have something to pull out of your bag o’ tricks—some go-to thing that you can do to at least engage the creative portion of your brain. For me, it is panning.
I chose this series of photos taken at Main Beach in Byron Bay, Australia. The sun was setting and I had already gotten some photos that I was happy with. Despite that, there were plenty of beachgoers who were having a blast. Some were running at the waves, trying to jump them, while others made their way in with surfboards in hand. In other words, there were still things to photograph. I wasn’t quite sure how to best convey the fun that everyone was having until I remembered that I could simply pan my camera.
Panning your camera is an art. It requires understanding the nature of your subject’s movement in relation to its surroundings. It also requires having a keen understanding of finding an optimal shutter speed so as to introduce movement while still keeping the parts of the subject in focus. There are a variety of ways to leverage panning, taking into account shorter or longer shutter speeds and the distance in which you physically pan with the subject. It’s all about experimentation and the excitement of seeing whether your effort yields a reward. That’s what I look forward to most and it makes me appreciate those times when I’m just not quite sure what to do with the scene in front of me.
Do you have any panning shots that you’re really proud of? If so, share ’em in the comments section—we all want to see them!