How to Isolate a Moving Subject: Panning for Beginners

Panning with a moving subject is a great way to show motion whilst also separating your subject from the background. Learn how to achieve this effect in this 11-minute beginner’s guide from photographer Josh Katz.

In order to freeze your subject while blurring the background, you will need to use a shutter speed slow enough to allow for blur, but fast enough to freeze your subject. Katz recommends starting with 1/10 for shots of skating, 1/30 for bikes, and 1/50 for cars. Of course, it depends how fast your subject is moving, so you’ll need to experiment here.

You’ll have to swivel (or “pan”) your camera horizontally to follow the subject as it moves parallel to you. This is going to take some practice, so follow along with Katz. It’s all in the hips:

The video at the top goes in to the full steps in more detail, so be sure to check it out. It’s broken down in to the following subjects:

1:06 – Equipment You Need
2:06 – Picking Subject + Location
2:44 – Step 1: Preliminary Camera Settings
3:21 – Step 2: Shutter Speed vs Motion Blur
4:16 – Step 3: Base Shutter Speeds
4:53 – Step 4: Focusing
5:06 – Step 5: Positioning
5:35 – Step 6: Shooting Technique
6:19 – Step 7: Experimenting
7:18 – Step 8: Editing in Lightroom
9:20 – Step 9: Sharing Your Work

Check out Katz’s his YouTube channel and at his website for more guides like this one, as well as tutorials, reviews, skate videos, and more.