Artistic Panning Blur versus Static Detailed Photograph



Above is a composite of two photographs I took yesterday, here in New Jersey.  This shows two distinctly different ways to photograph the same subject matter at the same focal length.  Both were taken with a Tamron 90mm VC lens and a Canon EOS 7D.

The technique employed on the left is called by several different names: Intentional Camera Movement (ICM), Pleasing Motion Blur, Panning Blur, Painting with Your Camera… and so on.  What were the camera settings and how was this executed?  I generally always shoot in manual mode on my DSLR when trying Panning Blurs.  I try to create a very bright camera RAW file with maximum detail in the white channel, without blowing too many highlights.  I think I a goal aperture of F/11 is a good idea to capture a good amount of detail but minimize diffraction or the chance of sensor dust spots rearing their ugly head.  An ideal shutter speed of 1/20th of a second to about 1 full second usually works for me.  A slow shutter speed like this usually means an ISO setting of 100 and shooting in the shade or on an overcast day.  If the sun is too bright to get detail at those settings you may need a polarizing filter or neutral density filter to cut out a few stops of light.

Having an anti-shake mechanism on the lens or camera is helpful to steady the viewfinder and get smoother horizontal or vertical lines.  In this case, Tamron’s 4-stop Vibration Control was set in the ON position, and the results of the VC along with a fluid handheld panning motion lead to straight horizontal lines within in the photograph.  I did manually pre-focus my macro lens for this photo, although “One Shot” autofocus mode as Canon calls their stationary shooting mode would have worked as well. This particular subject matter worked well with a horizontal panning motion because of the preexisting horizontal lines in the subject (a simple common chunk of rock outdoors).

When and why might you want to try this technique?  There are many reasons to do this:

1) It’s fun and very akin to using a paintbrush

2) Expand your nature photography portfolio

3) This is a great way to create Fine Art of a subdued, impressionistic, and thought-provoking nature

4) Why not? 🙂

As with all non-conventional photography techniques I would advise you to add as many tricks to your arsenal as possible, but don’t allow your style to be pigeon-holed or cliched.  Versatility is king when you are swimming in a sea with many fish.

Wildlife Filming Equipment

Wildlife Filming Equipment

Tamron 150-600mm VC Telephoto Lens
Canon EOS 60D
Rode VideoMic GO microphone (just purchased from Unique Photo in Fairfield NJ)

Equipment used for shot:
Canon EOS 7D DSLR Camera.
Tamron 90mm VC Macro Lens.
Cowboy Studio Fluorescent Light + Window Light

NJAS – All Things Birds: Glacial Lake Passaic

I intercepted my friend Mike leading a local trip for New Jersey Audubon Society in search of newly arrived Spring birds and potential Winter lingerers in Morris and Essex Counties today.

Photography equipment used includes my Tamron 18-270mm VC Lens, Tamron 90mm VC Macro Lens, Tamron 150-600mm VC Telephoto Lens, Canon DSLR’s, Canon Speedlite 270exII flash, and my Manfrotto 055xProB Tripod with 498rc2 Ballhead.

Wildlife sighting highlights for the group today: American Kestrel, Rusty Blackbird, American Mink, and several Shrews.


Looking for Sparrows and Blackbirds in the tall vegetation


Scanning for songbirds

rusty macro

Random object along the trail

Dekay's Snake

A fairly large sized Northern Brown Snake found basking on the road.

Deer Skull

Old remnants of a Two-pointed White-tailed Buck

Snake Flicking Tongue

A typically long and slender Ribbon Snake found along the trail

Turtle detail.

Close-up detail view of an adult Snapping Turtle

Pod details along rode.

Many Sweetgum trees in the area.

Yellow wildflower macro

Yellow Buttercup wildflower seen near forest entrance.

Spring Blooms

Blooms seen on mature trees lining the meadow

Meadow Scenery

An old lifeless tree in front of a wall of Phragmites.

NJAS 2014 Field Trip

The birding group takes a break to discuss the habitat.

NJ nature scenery

The trees that dot the meadow are starting to show their Spring coloration.

NJ Spring foliage

Trees showing their fresh green on a warm Spring day.

Swamp detail

Typical plant life in a flooded section of the forest

Macro flash and video LED setup

Macro flash and video LED setup

Canon 7D + Tamron 180mm SP Macro lens. A straight flash bracket is attached to the camera body, my Canon Speedlite 270exII is mounted on top of a Giottos mini ballhead. The Speedlite head is covered by my homemade diffuser (actually a plastic coffee “tin”), and today I glued a cold shoe mount on top of the diffuser to mount a Manfrotto ML120 Pocket-12 LED Light for shooting macro videos at night.