Creative Lighting and Panning tips for Photography

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Panning is a great technique to use if you want to create special effects in traditional photography fashion. You can make interesting images in the camera, without digital manipulation or photoshop filters. Like previous articles on creative lighting, you will be using similar techniques and settings on your digital SLR. For starters, panning is created when you follow a moving subject with your camera, photographing with a slow shutter speed. Here's a few tips to get you started.

When shooting for my wedding photography company, I use the panning technique mainly during the reception. This special effect is great for dancing photos, especially line or circle dances popular in many European and Middle Eastern cultures. Let's apply this technique to a large group of people, holding hands and circling around the bride and groom in the center of the dance floor. You want to capture the crowd, as it circles the happy couple and give them motion.

Panning is great for traditional dances

Take up a position in the center so you can see the dancers facing inward. In order to give the image a feel of movement, you'll need to use a slow shutter speed. Since 1/60 is the lowest shutter speed for stop action, you can slow things down from there. Try setting your shutter to 1/10 of a second, using an adequate f/ stop and ISO to balance your exposure.

If your camera has a rear sync shutter setting, turn that on too. This will make all objects and light appear to move in its true direction. If you are inside and there is ambient light, you can add fill flash to light your subjects. Aim your camera at the dancers and follow them in the direction they are moving.

When you press the shutter, continue to pan the dancers and follow through until your exposure is complete. If you pan at the same speed the dancers are moving, the background will appear blurred while the dancers are in focus. If you are using a strobe, the light will give the dancers a good "stop action" effect too.

Lights, Camera, Capture: Creative Lighting Techniques for Digital Photographers
Lights, Camera, Capture: Creative Lighting Techniques for Digital Photographers

Working as a wedding photographer gives me many opportunities to be creative. You can get some really fun and interesting images once you master this technique.

About the Author

Steve Matteo Photography has been operating professionally for over 15 years. As a wedding photographer, Steve uses his photojournalist skills to put together a story of the clients wedding. Aside from bridal party and family photographs, none of the wedding photographs are posed. Steve uses available light as well as strobe to capture the candid moments.

Written by Guest

December 10th, 2010 at 2:44 pm

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