Tips to Master Panning Photography Using Mobile Camera

mobile photography panning

Doing panning photography using a phone camera is one of the ways to do something different from what others are doing. You can click some amazing pictures by keeping your mobile phone still, but have you ever tried to click a photo by panning your phone?

Panning photography is capturing a subject in motion, by moving your camera/phone along with the movement of the subject. As a result, you get a photo in which the subject is well in focus and clear and the background and elements in the foreground appears to be in motion.

In this post I am going to share some tips you can use to click panning photos, which some of you must have been clicking using a DSLR camera.

mobile photography panning

Set your mobile camera on manual mode

The first thing you need to do with your mobile camera while setting up for panning photography is to set the camera mode to manual mode, in some phones it is called professional mode. As of now the mobile cameras are not advanced enough to allow us to change the aperture value, so all you can play with is the shutter speed, ISO and the focusing modes.

Set the focusing mode to continuous focusing and choose a shutter speed between 1/30 sec and 1/60 sec to enable the camera to capture the motion. If you are shooting during the day time, keep the ISO to the minimum possible value and you are all set to capture panning photos.

What if you do not have Manual Mode in your phone camera?

If your mobile phone camera app does not feature manual mode, you can still try and capture panning photos. Your camera might have the option to adjust the ISO value, you can reduce it by 1-stop (e.g. from ISO 400 to ISO 200) in order to slow down the shutter speed. Or you can try clicking during that time of the day when the light is not too harsh, so that your mobile camera uses a slow shutter speed which allows you to capture panning shots.

Choose a slow Shutter Speed

The most important element of panning photography is the shutter speed. To capture the sense of movement in a photo, you must allow the shutter to open for adequate time. Ideal shutter speed for panning photography is anything between 1/30 sec and 1/60 sec as it allows your mobile camera to register the movement of the subject as the camera moves along with the subject.

mobile photography panning

Setting the Focus correct is the key

If your mobile phone camera app features the manual/professional mode then most likely it will also allow you to change the focusing mode to continuous focusing. All you have to do is as soon as your subject enters the frame tap on it to lock the focus, then as you pan your phone along with the subject the focus will be locked. Now all you have to do is click the photo and your subject will be well in focus.

The above-mentioned method might take you time to master, as a beginner you can go with focus lock feature. If your camera app allows you to lock the focus at a point by long pressing on the screen, then you can use this feature. In this case, you will have to move your phone along with the subject and as the subject reached the spot where you had locked the focus, click the photo.

What if you do not have Focus control in your phone camera?

If your camera app does not allow you to manually adjust the focus or to lock the focus at a point, then you will have to rely on the automatic focus tracking ability of your phone camera.

Position yourself right

Make sure to allow some space between the camera and the subject in motion so that you get enough room to easily lock the focus on the moving subject. If you are too close to the subject, your frame will be filled with the subject itself, lacking the motion blur effect in the background.

Position yourself such that there is some contrast in the background where you will capture the subject. Using a flat or one-colored background will kill the motion blur effect giving a normal photo. Try and include two or more colors in the background to make the image appealing.

Move along with the subject

The basic idea of panning photography is to capture the photo while panning your mobile phone along the moving subject. The speed of the mobile phone panning should match the speed at which the subject is passing by.

Also, note that you should ideally click the photo when the subject is parallel to your phone camera, to get maximum sharpness and better blur moment in the background.

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About Author

Kunal Malhotra
Kunal Malhotra, a photography enthusiast whose passion for photography started 6 years back during his college days. Kunal is also a photography blogger, based out of Delhi. He loves sharing his knowledge about photography with fellow aspiring photographers by writing regular posts on his blog: The Photography Blogger. Some of his favourite genres of photography are Product, Street, Fitness and Architecture.