Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Radial panning zoom blur (Basic)

The shot above is an example of what I call radial panning zoom blur. Zoom blur is when you use a slow shutter speed while zooming in to get lines radiating from the subject. Radial zoom blur is when you rotate the camera while zooming, resulting in radial lines (also discussed below). Radial panning zoom blur is like radial zoom blur but in the process you also pan the camera.

It's not as difficult as it sounds. Here's how I do it:
1. I put the lens at its widest angle.
2. I frame the start of the zoom blur.
3. I choose a slow shutter speed (in the shot above 1/15).
4. To do a radial zoom movement, I hold the lens' zoom with my left hand, then while keeping my left hand steady, I rotate the camera as I press the shutter. The rotation of course results in the lens being zoomed. With a radial panning zoom, I do the same thing except the left hand pans the camera as I rotate the camera and press the shutter with my right hand.

Easy! ;)


  1. I saw a photographer using this technique to photograph some dancers at a club while I was in Shanghai... What I didn't (and still don't) really understand is why. I've tried it a few times myself, but I always end up scrapping the picture... Is there a certain psychological impact? When should this technique be used? Thanks

  2. Hi Ed! I think this technique, like other techniques involving light trails, are useful for conveying a sense of energy and movement. For that reason I think it's great to use at a dance club like what you saw.

    In addition, if the light trails form a pattern around the subject, it can be an interesting background for the subject.


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