One of my favorite methods of shooting street photos is the street panning shot. On the street find a colorful background and set your shutter speed slow: maybe 1⁄30 or 1⁄60 of a second. Manually focus the camera on the street or somethign fara way, then wait for someone interesting to ride by. As they pass follow them along with the camera as you release the shutter in one smooth motion.
You’ll end up with a colorful blurred background but the passerby is still sharp and visible. This is a great way to shoot in low light. To stop the motion of a biker you would generally need a shutter speed of about 1/250th of a second, but by panning you make the shot at 1/30th of a second. This lets you shoot in 8 times less light, maybe in dusk or at night.
Here’s a few pictures using this method from last night in Shanghai.
Gear: The shots above were made with a Leica M-E and 50mm Summicron f2 Lens, but you can do the same thing with any camera that lets you control the shutter speed. The shot below from Ao Nang, Thailand was made with a Canon S110. This may even work on a phone if you can convince it to shoot a slow enough exposure — make sure to turn the flash off.