Photography exercise: panning shots in Mongkok

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Panning shots

Some times, to progress in photography, it is good to oblige yourself to do an exercise in style. Today, my photography exercise was taking panning shots in a street of Mongkok.

Panning shots involve staying put in one position and (ideally) shooting subjects which are passing parallel to your position. Using a low shutter speed (1/30th to 1/25th), you manage to get a motion blur which, when well done, detaches the subject from the background.

The difficulty

Where it gets difficult is that to get a perfect picture, you should have the maximum details on the subject. For that to happen, the speed at which you are moving the camera should be synchronized to your subject. Difficult to do that when the shutter closes, right? That’s why, you must look beyond the viewfinder, above your camera, to make sure you are synchronizing the camera to your subject.

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Using the rain and lights

A special case of panning shots can be done at night, but preferably with bikes. This shot was taken in Thailand.

Two girls on a motosai in Bangkok, Thailand.

As this was shot at night, after the rain, it provided interesting reflections on the floor increasing the panning effect. While in Bangkok, there are a lot of bikers, hence allowing to use panning shots, Hong Kong has a bit less of these, but still, some occasion may arise as seen below.

Bikes generally have a fixed speed, so theoretically easier to shoot, but not always easy to align your speed on the bike!

The conclusion is to go out and take one morning obliging yourself only to shoot panning shots. Experience is vital, as even after a while, you may still have a lot of missed shots.

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