Blurry pictures are a drag! However, they can be fantastic if you take control of the scene and create a work of art by planning your blur!

Creating a pan-blur photograph involves capturing a subject in motion while panning your camera to follow that motion, resulting in a blurred background and a sharp subject.
This technique is often used in sports and action photography to convey a sense of speed and movement. Here’s how to create pan-blur photographs:

Choose the Right Location and Subject:

Select a location where you can observe the subject’s movement. It could be a racetrack, a street with passing cars, a cyclist, or a runner.

Ensure your subject moves relatively quickly and consistently in a straight line parallel to your position.

Use the Right Equipment:

  • You’ll need a DSLR or mirrorless camera with manual exposure settings.
  • A lens with a zoom capability is preferable, allowing you to adjust your framing as the subject moves.
  • A tripod can be helpful but is not mandatory.
Galloping Horse and Cowboy Pan Blur 140

Set Your Camera Settings:

  • Set your camera to Shutter Priority mode (usually denoted as “S” or “TV” on the mode dial).
  • Choose a slow shutter speed (typically around 1/30 to 1/60 second) to capture motion blur. The exact shutter speed will depend on the speed of your subject and the effect you want to achieve.
  • Lower your ISO to its base value (usually 100 or 200) to maintain image quality.
  • Set your camera to continuous autofocus (AF-C) mode to track the moving subject.

Frame Your Shot:

  • Compose your shot, keeping the moving subject in the center of the frame.
  • Be prepared to follow the subject’s motion smoothly with your camera.
  • As the subject moves, start tracking it smoothly with your camera while simultaneously pressing the shutter button.
  • Continue to pan the camera at the same speed as the subject throughout the exposure.
  • Keep the subject as steady as possible in the frame while blurring the background.
Pan Blur of Riva a Shagya Arabian in Vermont.

Review and Adjust

Review the image on your camera’s LCD screen to assess the effect.
If the background is too sharp, try a slower shutter speed. If the subject is too blurry, use a slightly faster shutter speed.
You may need to experiment with different shutter speeds to achieve the desired effect.


In post-processing software like Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop, you can fine-tune your pan-blur photograph by adjusting exposure, contrast, and saturation to enhance the effect.

Remember, pan blur photography requires Practice to master. It may take several attempts to get the perfect shot. As a beginner, one out of 100 should be your first goal. Be patient and experiment with different settings until your best photograph becomes a work of art as a planned blur, not just a blurry picture!

Bonus lesson – The Zoom Blur

The zoom blur can be very dramatic as well! It’s super easy! Unlike a pan-blur, a zoom blur works best when the subject approaches you head-on.

The technique is simple: rotate the zoom while pressing the shutter release. It takes some agility, but once you get the hang of it, you will have more success!

You can zoom in or out and rotate the camera while shooting. If your dexterity approves, you can rotate the camera while shooting!

Cowboys Galoping Zoom Blur

To wrap up this photography lesson in Planned Blurs!

Remember the adage “Practice makes perfect? Well, this photo technique embodies that action. You need to take hundreds of images playing with settings and keep after it until you are satisfied with your Planned Blurs!
These images only sometimes resonate among photography fans. I look at them more as art than a photograph, so the amount of blur I like may only suit some. Be yourself and create images or art that make you smile!

Show me your art, and or leave a comment!

A "Pan Blur" image of a Red billed Tropicbird in flight Galapa