Los Angeles Blue Line at Long Beach

Pan Photography: Why and How.

Exposed with a Canon EOS 3 on Fujichrome slide film.
June 2008. Exposed with a Canon EOS 3 on Fujichrome slide film.

I made this pan of a Blue Line light railcar on the streets of Long Beach, California while researching my book Railroads of California.

Panning is one of my preferred techniques for making a dynamic image while separating the subject from the background.

This can be especially useful on dull days where a lack of contrast makes for bland scenes, or in complex urban environments where the subject maybe lost in a tapestry of intersecting lines.

It’s also a great way to compensate for harsh lighting.

Some tricks for making successful pan photos: select a slow shutter speed (1/15 -1/60th of a second), aim for a broadside angle, and follow your subject while releasing the shutter as you move. Use smooth lateral motion. Do not stop panning once you release the shutter. Practice repeatedly.

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Tomorrow: An Iowa Interlude.

 

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