Panning With A Great Blue Heron

I am cleaning out Hard Drives making room for new images and I came across some images from years ago when I was practicing a “panning effect” with a cooperative Great Blue Heron. These were taken early in the evening before sundown. The featured image and the one below were taken @ 1/50th sec. to get an interesting Blur Effect on mostly the water & some on the wings to show some movement on the subject bird, but more streaking on the water or background. Here I was using f/13 @ ISO 400. You basically follow along with the Heron and try to be as steady as possible to get a streaking effect in the water as you shoot at a slower shutter speed. This effect gives the image more of a “moving” look to the bird in the image and makes the background more interesting looking. You have to practice and see what shutter speed / f/stop works best for your use. It also depends on how fast the subject is moving. You basically set an f/stop that gives you a longer shutter speed, and still keep the subject bird somewhat sharp. You can look at your preview and adjust from there to vary the effect to your liking. It is also a matter of personal taste as to how much or how little the blurring effect you like. But on quiet days looking for subjects to photograph it can be fun to experiment!

GBH_Panning_1_60th sec_f13_800mm_Y9F2613

GBH_Panning_400mm f8_1_160th_Y9F3912

25 minutes earlier than above images with a little faster shutter speed did not give as much streaking movement in the water.


Swan Flyby



10 Comments on “Panning With A Great Blue Heron

    • Thanks Eliza! It is fun to try different shooting effects / styles. Sometimes it works, sometimes it does not. But when it does it gives you another way to photograph your subjects!

  1. You succeeded. The fourth picture is good because you managed to capture two swans. I don’t know if I’d ever have dared to pan with as slow a shutter speed as 1/50 of a second, but now I’ll keep it in mind.

    • Thanks Steve! You kind of pan as fast as the subjects are flying. I found around 1/50th Second for large birds is usually pretty good. If you go with a faster shutter speed the background is not as smooth and slower the bird looks too blurry. Also it was with a stabilized lens. Do not know if that makes a difference. Thanks again!

    • They are fun to do! Sometimes I think it works better early in the morning with softer light! You already sort of do panning – your moving water shots. The subject is moving giving you that effect!

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