How to Fake the Panning Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Panning photography has a few uses, but it's most commonly seen in motorsport. It's a tricky technique to get the most out of and on occasion, it's not even possible. In those situations, perhaps you can fake it instead.

Every year — or rather, every year the pandemic isn't involved — there is a motorsport event in London that I attend as press. I am a petrolhead to the core and 6 or 7 years ago, I tried my luck at getting a press pass for the event so I could photograph the racers. Somehow, I was given accreditation and I found I could make a little money selling my shots to the drivers. It's not really about the money, however, it's about how much I enjoy the day.

This is in part because of the cars, but also because of how difficult it is to get great, printable images of the cars racing. Panning takes a lot of trial, error, and practice to be consistent, and even then you will never nail every shot. The event lasts several days and I like to try different parts of the track. There is one that has so many small turns that panning isn't worthwhile or possible in many cases. One option I have here is to fake the panning effect in Photoshop. I haven't done it yet, but I must admit, this tutorial shows believable results.

The only change I'd make to OpticalWander's image is the wheels, which are typically blurred too. If they aren't — and I have an example of this — the driver has probably locked their brakes and is about to have an expensive 10 seconds.

Rob Baggs's picture

Robert K Baggs is a professional portrait and commercial photographer, educator, and consultant from England. Robert has a First-Class degree in Philosophy and a Master's by Research. In 2015 Robert's work on plagiarism in photography was published as part of several universities' photography degree syllabuses.

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Nice but I'm more of a fan of PiXimperfect's version.

there's getting to be more tutorials on faking it than making it these days

This article is for those who; don't know how to do it in real life, those who know how but just can't get it right, are too lazy or all the above. Soon it's going to be....hell - just fake it (whatever it is) on the computer. Then they can call themselves 'real' photographers.

Cool tools and effects, however there is no motion on the wheels, so if the driver has locked up all 4 brakes in pit lane, you might need to add some smoke as he slides through...

If he really wanted it to look realistic, he needs to add some smoke to the tires since the wheels aren't spinning.

This is so bad. Wheels aren't spinning. What's the point?