Ten Tips

Ten Tips for Taking Better Panning and Motion Blurs

Bull Elk at Sunrise
American Bison
American Bison
Mule Deer Sparring
Pronghorn Running
Wolves & Grizzly
Through the Trees
Bull Moose

Ten Tips for taking better motion blurs with wildlife:

Taking motion and panning photos of wildlife can be an exciting way to get a different type of photograph, and continually push yourself to try different techniques. While there are no guarantees with motion photos, here are a few tips to get better shots of wildlife on the move.

1. Follow Through: Just as in sports, a good follow through is key. Continue to swing your camera, panning with your subject after you've stopped pressing the shutter.

2. Use a Tripod: Putting your lens on a tripod and panning with your subject may take a little practice, but it will help you reduce vertical movement in your shot helping your photo have continuity in movement from left to right or right to left.

3. Mix it Up: Experiment with different shutter speeds for different animals. You can use slower shutter speeds for larger animals that move slower, but you will need faster speeds for smaller animals that move more quickly.

4. Dial it In: Set your shutter speed to your desired setting to get crisp sharply focused photos, and set your aperture priority at a f stop that gives you a suitable slow shutter speed for motion shots. Now you can change back and forth between the two settings and try different techniques quickly and efficiently when it matters most.

5. The Early Bird Gets the Worm: Get there early. I was up early once in Yellowstone Photographing a black bear when a man approached and leaned in saying "It's a little dark isn't it?". The low light of predawn is the perfect time to work on different techniques such a motion and panning shots.

6. Manual Focus: Many times with slow shutter speeds and low light, your camera will have a hard time focusing properly. Get used to using your auto focus in lowlight situations, and you'll be taking better pictures quickly.

7. Find and Anchor: Give your viewers something to latch onto with your motion shots. When a portion of your photo is sharp and focused it allows your viewers eyes a place to rest in a frame full of motion.

8. Anticipate: Take a minute to look and see where your subject is moving, and place yourself in the best possible position to have your subject pass in front of you for the best possible photo.

9. Go Low: Lower your position so that you have a chance to shoot through objects such as grass, trees and shrubs to add splashes of color to your photos.

10. Lights: If it's extremely dark out and your trying to get some panning shots, try using a flash (rear curtain sync!) to add a pop to your photos. It's also great for adding just a bit of catch light to their eyes!

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—The JPG team

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