Most of the time the goal of a photographer is to make crisp sharply focused images. Every now and then a creative streak will intervene and I’ll deliberately blur an image to emphasize the motion. This technique is called a pan-blur. It is one of those things that is simple to execute, but quite difficult to make it work out.

The idea is to slow your shutter speed down quite a bit (1/60th or so) and then to pan with a moving subject. The trick is that you have to move the camera at the exact pace as the subject. That’s the easy part. You also have to get part of the subject in focus, preferably the head and at least the eye. Here’s the scenario, you have to be able to hold the camera steady, lock the autofocus where you want and pan with something that is moving fast. Not so simple!

When it works 1 out of every 50 times you try the resulting images can be very dramatic. Here are a few examples from my recent western horse roundup photography workshop. There is a fair amount of subjectivity in this photographic art form and some of these are more successful than others. The technique works on anything that is moving quickly, cars, boats, birds, athletes etc. So give it a try and let me know how it works out for you.

The western workshop and the cowboys and cowgirls that we photographed were in California. The map below will show you the location. It is on private property.

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