Panning a moving subject properly….well it usually creates stunning results.
A blurred background with a mostly crisp, slightly blurred around the edges, subject…..by definition a pan, is a matter of practice.
Certain basic rules apply though..
SLOWER SHUTTER SPEEDS
The most important rule. Shutter speeds by definition need to be slowed down to allow tracking a subject over a period of time. This creates the beautifully blurred backgrounds.
Shutter speeds depend on the speed on the moving subject. Fast moving objects may need around 1/60th of a second. Most often 1/15th to 1/30th provide good results. But this varies too much. As said before, the speed of the moving subject decides this. Usually some experimenting is required.
FOCUS AND TRACKING
Modern cameras allow tracking a moving subject while in focus. Half press of the shutter usually locks the focus. At times manual focus set to a specific distance might be needed.
Smooth movement of the camera to follow the moving subject comes with practice. A horizontal smooth travel or following of the subject with the camera is the basic underlying technique. Tripods and monopods come with pan heads but most often panning is done with the camera handheld.
SPACE AROUND THE SUBJECT
Too tight frames tend to negate the effect of motion blur. Usually some real estate on both sides of the subject result in a more dramatic panning effect.
Photo: Colours in the background helps in subject isolation
PANNING SLOW MOVING OBJECTS CAN BE TRICKY
One might end up moving faster than the subject. In my experience panning slow moving subjects require more skill. The shutter speeds might turn out to be faster than required….the camera movement can turn out to be out of sync with that of the subject…….but opinion differs.
This can lead to problems in slowing the shutter speed. Stopping down at base ISO can help.
TEST SHOTS, EXPERIMENT, SEVERAL SPEEDS
Try out several shutter speeds at different focal lengths to get at the optimum and most dramatic pan. Fiddle around a bit with the aperture.