Pan for Motion Blur during Dog Photography Sessions

By Kim Rodgers, Sarah Sypniewski

Panning is a technique that photographers use for some very unique-looking action shots, but panning dogs in motion takes a lot of practice. Even the most skilled photographers have to take lots of panned shots before getting a decent one. To create motion blur, track your subject while shooting at a slower-than-normal shutter speed for an effect in which the background is blurred but your subject remains fairly focused.

In order to achieve this look, do the following:

  1. Press the AF point selection button and choose the center point.

  2. Put your camera in AI servo mode.

  3. Set your camera to continuous shooting mode.

  4. Change your shutter speed to 1/60 second.

  5. Align your AF point on your dog, press your shutter release halfway, and have him run straight in front of you while continuously tracking him with your AF point.

  6. Press and hold down the shutter release while you continue to track your dog.

  7. Let go of the shutter release while you continue to track your dog.

  8. Check out your photos and repeat until you’ve nailed it!

Your success with this technique is largely determined by your ability to smoothly pan at the same speed at which your dog is moving. Pick a spot (like his eye or collar) as a marker to focus your AF point on. Also, keep in mind that your subject doesn’t always have to be totally crystal-clear; experiment with what looks good to you!

Here, the photographer spent well over an hour specifically shooting panned action photos. More than 200 frames later, she ended up with only a few keepers, but the dramatic sense of motion in the image was worth the effort.


55mm, 1/60 sec., f/2.8, 200