Creative Lighting Tips

Panning is a great technique to use if you want to create special effects in traditional wedding photography fashion. You can make interesting images in the camera, without digital manipulation or photoshop filters. Like previous articles I’ve written on creative lighting, you will be using similar techniques and settings on your digital SLR. Panning is created when you follow a moving subject with your camera, photographing with a slow shutter speed. Here’s a few tips to get you started.

Panning is great for traditional dances

Panning is great for traditional dances

Working as a wedding photographer Chiacgo brides count on for creative photos is very rewarding. I try to create interesting images with my camera, not photoshop. I use the panning technique mainly during the reception. This special effect is great for dancing photos, especially Greek dances, line or circle dances popular in many European and Middle Eastern cultures. Let’s apply this technique to a large group of people, holding hands and circling around the bride and groom in the center of the dance floor. You want to capture the crowd, as it circles the happy couple and give them motion.

Circle dances are popular in many cultures

Circle dances are popular in many cultures

Take up a position in the center so you can see the dancers facing inward. In order to give the image a feel of movement, you’ll need to use a slow shutter speed. Since 1/60 is the lowest shutter speed for stop action, you can slow things down from there. Try setting your shutter to 1/10 of a second, using an adequate f/ stop and ISO to balance your exposure. If your camera has a rear sync shutter setting, turn that on too. This will make all objects and light appear to move in its true direction. If you are inside and there is ambient light, you can add fill flash to light your subjects.

Catching the bride in action.

Catching the bride in action.

Aim your camera at the dancers and follow them in the direction they are moving. When you press the shutter, continue to pan the dancers and follow through until your exposure is complete. If you pan at the same speed the dancers are moving, the background will appear blurred while the dancers are in focus. If you are using a strobe, the light will give the dancers a good “stop action” effect too.

Panning is a great technique for wedding reception photos

Panning is a great technique for wedding reception photos

(Please credit Steve Matteo Photography when copying blog articles)

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