Motion Blur, Panning and Zooming Tricks in Photography

The 3 techniques described in this article are part of the techniques used to isolate the subject from the background – an essential rule in photography.

You may already know that a longer exposure time will create motion blur if the subject moves. See the example below. The other way around: steady subject but movement of the camera, will result in the same effect, except that this time the entire image will be blurred not just the subject.
Since an entire blurred image is not a good one, the latest cameras developed a function called anti-shake or image stabilization to avoid obtaining such images if you don’t have steady hands. If you don’t have this function or shooting mode, increase the ISO setting and put the camera on a tripod or some steady ground.
motion blur
Now Panning refers to shooting a moving subject by moving the camera in the same direction as well. This is not exactly easy but you might get it right from the first try. In this case, it is not the subject that looks blurred, but the background. You need to have your camera focused on the subject and try having the same speed as the subject.
Zooming during a picture is easier than panning in my opinion. That because the subject is not moving: you are the one creating an effect just by rotating the rings. Whether you zoom in or out, the final effect is the same. This effect can also be obtained in post-proccesing the picture with a filter effect in a software like Adobe Photoshop Lightroom – about this later.
(zooming trick image by

Note: the panning picture above was made with Canon Powershot A520, Program Shooting Mode, so if you are wondering that only a SLR camera can do these tricks, stay calm: any compact camera can do the panning trick. What matters is to teach yourself how to listen to your senses and practice your reaction timing.

[tags]panning, zooming, photo tips, photo tricks, motion blur[/tags]

By Laura

I started photography as a hobby in 2005, during college. My passion slowly became a more important part of my life since 2008. Because of using a combination of my photographic knowledge, with those of internet marketing, I like to call myself a "photomarketer".

1 comment

  1. It seems like everyone’s writing about motion blur lately! I hope it doesn’t become the new HDR…

    How do you feel about each of these effects? Normal motion blur and panning, when done right, can look fantastic!

    I’ve never really seen a good motion zoom photo though. There’s just something about that effect that grates against my sense of aesthetics. Similar to adding lens flares to photos, this is something I just don’t do because I think it’s tacky.

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