Apr 3, 2011

The Fine Art of Camera Panning

I am always interested in capturing the day to day in an unusual different way. One technique that I frequently use is camera panning. Panning is a photographic effect where the camera is rotated or moved in a horizontal direction. The camera can be hand-held or mounted on a tripod when performing the actual panning. I usually prefer using my tripod. The panning technique is achieved by freezing the subject in the same position of the frame for the duration of the exposure. The exposure time should be long enough to allow the static background to blur from the camera movement as you follow the subject in the viewfinder. There may be lots of trial and errors in the beginning and it may take a while to develop your own technique but it certainly provides you with unique set of images and lots of fun.

In my first two photographs from the beautiful Boston Arnold Arboretum I placed the camera on my tripod pointing upwards towards the tree canapes. During the exposure I rotated the camera that resulted in these tree carousel like images. In both images the aperture was set to f/8 resulting in 1/30 sec and 1/4 sec exposure times for the fall and spring image respectively.

In this next summer image I tried to apply the camera panning technique to one of my flower photographs. Here I hand-hold the camera and set the aperture to f/8 providing me with a slow enough shutter speed of 1/10 second. I then focused on a bunch of Blacked-Eyed Susan flowers in the garden and moved the camera up and down to create an abstract floral photography blur.

For the sunset photograph I set up my tripod at Brace Cove in Gloucester after a late afternoon shoot of Rockport Harbor and motif #1 on Cape Ann. I exposed long enough at 1/10 second to allow for panning my camera across the Brace Cove, and capturing this abstract seascape photograph of this most beautiful sunset.

The last image was taken on beautiful Cape Cod. Here I moved the camera in the direction of the incoming rolling waves resulting in an abstract impressionistic early morning seascape photograph. The aperture was set to f/8 resulting in 1/2 second exposure time.


  1. I absolutely love the sunset one, Juergen. Wow is that gorgeous. I love these abstract images myself (funny, I just posted one this morning before I came over here...we must be on the same wavelength this week!:)) I've never tried your technique but I'll have to give it a shot. Mine was created by zooming an 18-200 lens. Once in awhile I have alot of fun with that. Great post! Thanks for sharing your technique with us!

  2. Thank you so much for responding to this blog entry about camera panning Roni ... glad you like it! I ma sure you will have a blast trying it out. I never really got into the zoom effect but should give it a try as well ... always looks like a lot of fun too!