Friday Lens Affair #67

Panning shot, Masai Mara, Kenya

Today, I’m featuring an unusual picture and story. This amazing panning shot has been taken by Susan Portnoy from The Insatiable Traveler. Susan blogs for Huffington Post and take great pictures of wildlife. Her photographies from numerous safaris stolen my heart. Just follow her on Twitter and Facebook!

Picture Story: Panning shot, Masai Mara, Kenya

It was twilight on the Masai Mara in Kenya. Our small gang, a group of photography enthusiasts and professionals, were eagerly watching three cheetah brothers stretch and roll as the light left the sky. Elephants and wildebeest were in small herds behind them, but the predators didn’t seem to notice.

Suddenly, one male got up and began to saunter towards a fallen tree in the distance, and it hit me, I should try a panning shot. Panning shot involves slowing the shutter speed way down, focusing on the subject, and then following its movements while shooting.

It’s kind of a crapshot. Most of the time photos will end up looking like a blurry mess, but when it works, parts of the subject are held in focus while other parts are blurred, emphasizing the feeling of movement.

I was at war with myself. I loved the look of panning, but I had little experience doing it. I was worried about wasting precious time with the cheetahs on an experiment, but then I thought, (mentally slapping myself across the face), “Just do it!” and began snapping away.

In seconds I took over 10 photos in rapid succession. The cheetah sat down to clean itself and I immediately flipped over my camera to look at the shots on the LCD. At first it was, as I mentioned before, multiple frames of blur.

My heart sank. But half way through the images, this one appeared. My heart soared. “Yay!!” I thought. “Woot!” I said out loud, a little too loud, causing my comrades in the jeep to turn around perplexed.

36 thoughts on “Friday Lens Affair #67

  1. Haha great shot (and maybe at the expense of your fellow safari goers) but I’m glad it came out! I’ve got a simple point and shoot camera so don’t think I have the option to try taking a panning photo. I’ve seen this style though and love it. I find it give the subject in the photograph so much more character. :-)

  2. Tamika

    I love that Cheetah picture!

  3. ladyfi

    That is a magnificent shot.

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  5. Theresa

    Stunning Shot!

  6. Nice shot. I’m glad she went for it because panning really is the best way to capture the emotion of movement.

  7. Angela Travels

    I hope to go on a safari and love to see the pictures people are able to take. Great image and animal!

  8. SJ

    Worth the risk! Fabulous shot, so fab that you can totally see the movement!

  9. Nice capture! I love panning shots. When they work you get a photo that not only captures the beauty but also the spirit of the scene. Well done.

  10. Frandal

    It’s an amazing shot. I feel that the story behind a good shot like this is as interesting as the picture itself, nice post!

  11. Samantha

    Wow what a great shot! Sometimes that’s how we get the best photos, taking a risk and not knowing for sure if it’ll turn out right but this one is fantastic.

  12. The Guy

    I think it was definitely worth all those wasted panning shots to get this one. It worked perfectly with the head and torso in great focus and the background blurring. Wonderful effect.

    It was a world apart to old photography when we had film cameras and it was pot luck and expensive to get the picture we wanted.

    • Ha ha ha, I remember all times when I was so much younger and going on the holidays with 32 shots film in my camera! But you know I always say that you were more careful of what you were taking pictures… and those days I come back from the trip with thousand photos! It is crazy!
      Marysia recently posted…Friday Lens Affair #67My Profile

  13. Truly a wonderful shot. It looks like your gamble paid off.

  14. What a cool shot!! Absolutely stunning!! You captured the true beauty and characteristics of the animal, especially its speed!!

  15. Globalmouse

    Cheetahs are such beautiful animals – I love how this captures the running and determination of this beautiful animal. Wish I could take a photo like this. Gorgeous.

  16. Really amazing shot! Didn’t even know about this technique before. It seriously gives an impression of the movement. Well done!

  17. Charli

    This is such a beautiful photograph, I love how fluid it is. Thank for highlighting it on your blog Marysia!

  18. I love cheetahs!!! They’re so graceful (and equally dangerous), sounds like a true femme fatale, right? :D

  19. The risk paid off! That’s a great shot.

  20. Megan

    WOW absolutely amazing shot! We were lucky enough to also see a Cheetah while in Kenya but she was being lazy under a tree for the whole time we were there so didn’t see her run. How phenomenol :)

  21. Love those big cats and that’s a very good shot! Well done on the technique! Sometimes it’s worth taking risks! Clearly that was one of those time!

  22. As a fledgling photographer, we haven’t attempted many action shots. But we’re inspired to do so now. Thanks so much for the share.

  23. Shaun

    Was and still is my fav big cat and African animal. Did my sixth grade project on them. Watched a documentary featuring a female cheetah and when they showed her running at full speed but slowed the camera down so you could watch it in slow-mo. Utterly mesmerizing.

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