Panning – bringing dynamics into the photo

Yesterday I was at the Hestehoven (coltsfoot) show jumping event nearby. Having taken thousands of show jumping photos over the year, I felt it was time to learn something new.

A young rider turning into the next fence
A young rider turning into the next fence
Jumping over the fence
Jumping over the fence

Although I have always been satisfied with these kind of photos, and especially their clarity, I wanted to start taking other photos that conveyed the speed and intensity og show jumping. I had wanted to try panning for a while, and finally got the opportunity.

Panning, if done wrong, just gives a blurry picture. And I had a lot of those…

Blurry photo - just looks like a phot with too long shutter time.
Blurry photo – just looks like a photo with too long shutter time.

But if done right, some parts of the photo is clear (typically the main subject) and the rest is blurry. With cars or boats, getting the movement right is not that challenging… The challenge comes with getting the head of the rider or horse sharp while they are moving erratically across the field…

After a lot of practice, I started to get the hang of it:

Panning properly. The rider is sharp, but the rest of the photo is blurry to convey movement
Panning done properly. The rider is sharp, but the rest of the photo is blurry to convey movement

Of course, I had to train on panning over an obstacle as well. That proved even more difficult:

Another photo of a rider that is just blurry....
Another photo of a rider that is just blurry….

After some practice, I started to get the hang of it.

Panning done properly. The head of the rider is sharp, but the rest is blurry
Panning done properly. The head of the rider is sharp, but the rest is blurry

It was a fun day at the event, but I notice that my “hit ratio” (the rate of acceptable photos against total photos) dropped from 1 in 5 to 1 in 100. So I guess I need to train more…

The rest of the photos from Hestehoven are found on my Flickr page

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