Getting Crazy with the “Whip Pan” | Transcription

This is one of our Lin and Jirsa kind of signature effects that we do on shoots and it’s really a cool and fun effect and, by the way, I’m sure there’s a ton of other photographers that have done this too, we don’t claim to have created this technique although I like the name that we came up with for it -whip pan- because it kind of reminds me of what we’re doing with the shot; we’re kind of whipping and panning the camera.

This is one of the coolest parts about really understanding lighting. Understanding lighting means that you can create images now, in any scene, you can create whatever look, whatever you want to make you can do because now you understand and you’ve mastered lighting; that’s the whole point of Lighting 101, 201, 301 and 401 is to get you to that point where literally you could be shooting in the middle of the parking lot and still create amazing images.

That is no different than the whip pan; this is one of those just amazing images anywhere type techniques at least anywhere at night. You can do this during the day too but it’s going to require much larger strobes which we’ll get to later on but you might remember this technique if you watched Lighting 101. We use this technique a lot when we’re on the dance floor; now on the dance floor we use it a little bit differently where we’re actually using on-camera flash and we use that on-camera flash to directly flash our subject to freeze them while we slow down the shutter speed and create motion in the background right and for those types of shots generally we’re using rear curtain sync.

This go around, it gets a little bit different, we’re going to use first curtain sync and I’m going to talk about why but essentially the whole concept here is to take a scene that has something bright, some sort of lights in the background and to add motion to that while freezing the subject. Now there’s of course some tips and this technique in general is kind of overall just a giant balancing act and that’s why we save this for the last tutorial because it is the most complex technique so far in this tutorial series.

All right so let me show you; we have the Sigma 35mm Art which I actually put on my camera for this tutorial. We run the shutter speed at 1/50th of a second at F2, ISO 100, and 3600 Kelvin and this is just handheld so we’re just slowing down the shutter but I’m keeping it handheld just so you guys can see roughly what they background looks like and what our exposure looks like.

This is that same shot now but this time I’m adding a whip pan motion so what do I do? Again this goes back to ideally with types of shots like this where we’re doing panning motions, we want to hold the camera in a good way so that we kind of create the type of motion that we want to so the best way to hold the camera is with the elbow tucked in the chest like we did in Photography 101, hand goes underneath the lens and then basically you’re going to control the motion like  you can do any kind of a pan that you want. You can whip it left to right, you can go top bottom, you can add some kind of waves and motion into it, you can do a twist, whatever you like, whatever motion you think is cool but this one was created just by simply whipping from right to left or left to right so it’s a horizontal whip that goes across.

If you have a lens that has stabilization, you can get a slightly more, kind of stable line so just a straight line if you turn on stabilization. If you want a perfectly straight line and you don’t have stabilization then throw it on to like a panning tripod basically so just use the pan head and juts pan on the tripod left and right as you take the shots; that’s what I did here. What have we done this? Okay so what does this look like now? Now we’re taking this light and we’ve dragged it across, we give this really cool motion and effect. Now what we have to do is add light to it to freeze; we have to pose and freeze our subject in the frame.

This is where we get over to that balancing act and let’s start going through the pros and tips because you’ll kind of understand what I mean as we go through it. Composition attributes well … what are we thinking about here, the main component, the main compositional attribute for a whip pan is what? Slow shutter speed , do you like how I waited for you to say that? I kind of waited just so you guys can kind of think about it for a second, hopefully I gave you enough time and you said slow shutter speed; that is the first compositional component.

So we know that we’re going to slow the shutter speed down and generally a shutter speed from around 1/10th of a second to one second is good for a whip pan and what really matters here is how far you want those trails to go and the overall brightness and exposure of the scene. The darker the scene, the slower you might need to go with your shutter speed and you might need to raise up the ISO a little as well but the brighter the scene, the quicker you can go on your shutter speed. Again for me the ideal motion is created right around one-fifth to one-quarter of a second okay, so that kind of … I mean one-fifth to a half second is pretty ideal. Generally when it gets to one second unless you’re on a tripod or doing something, it gets a little bit too long but that’s just my own preference but anywhere between one-tenth and one second is great for the length of the whip pan.

Let’s talk about sync speed for just a second; we know of course that our sync speed is totally fine because we’re less than 1/200th of a second, we’re far less than 1/200th of a second so we’re not going to have an issue on that side but do we want first curtain sync or rear curtain sync and your first inkling especially if you watched Lighting 101 you might think this is a moment when I need to flip rear curtain sync on. Remember that the only off-camera flashes that are going to offer rear curtain sync are the ones that offer full feature capabilities; so we have full TTL capability, they will have rear curtain sync like the Phottix system or say for example on the larger side you have like the Profoto B2 and B1 system with the AR TTL Remote but regardless do we want a first curtain sync or a rare curtain sync.

Well, let me just turn on my camera, I’m going to slow this down to one second, we’re going to use a one second shutter duration just for the sake of this demonstration here. If I have first curtain sync turned one, the flash is going to fire now and then its not going to do anything at the end of the frame right? And I add my motion. If I have my rear curtain sync turned on, the flash is going to wait so I’m going to fire and the flash fires just before this closes so compositionally what does that mean for us?

If we have rear curtain sync turns on and we want to freeze the subject with the flash then I need to move my camera into the correct place, with the correct composition with the couple and everything at the end of the motion right? So I’ll need the fire, there’s the couple and I leave it right there for the end of it but if I use first curtain sync I can place my composition where I want with the couple in the frame that I want and then once it fires I just add the motion to the shot afterwards.

For this particular type of effect, for a whip pan; it’s easier to use first curtain sync. Why, because we can compositionally frame everything the way that we want it and then we simply add the motion afterwards, we add the motion to whatever we need, or do our twist but we can compose the subject and everything in the frame where we want it, fire [inaudible 00:06:59] frozen and then add the motion afterwards. Just remember that whatever motion you want is going to be basically inverted, it’s going to be backwards, okay; you’ll know this by just practicing this a couple of times but if we use rear curtain sync it becomes very, very difficult to time that motion with the shutter speed correctly where you land just in the right spot with the right composition for the couple at the very end of the frame okay, that becomes almost impossible so for this particular shot we use first curtain sync which is a feature that actually every manual flash is going to by default fire first curtain sync so you don’t need to have full feature flash for this effect, you only need a full feature flash when you want to do rear curtain sync.

Okay so, here comes the balancing act; ambient exposure is at F2.8 for your aperture and then ISO 100 for this particular scene right so this is the F2.8, ISO 100, this is F2.8, ISO 100, F2.8, ISO 100, this is an f/2 and ISO 400 actually for this particular shot so this must have been a much darker background.

This is where the balancing act comes into play because what we essentially need to do, we need our background to be just either the same brightness or a little bit darker than our subject. The goal is that our subject … if the background is so bright, it’ll basically end up pulling attention away from your subject so we want the background either the same brightness or a little bit darker than the subject just to kind of bring attention into them. So we need to expose first and generally what I’ll do is I’ll expose first to get the background the right level of brightness and to get the shutter speed to the right level of exposure and the right speed for my motion and the effect I’m going to create, then I go to my flash and we get to balancing that flash with the ambient light.

The problem is that if your flash power is too high, remember what we talked about earlier; we need a flash duration … not earlier, remember what we talked about in lighting 101 with flash duration. When your flash is at full power, the flash duration is relatively slow so the flash does not freeze the subjects like you might want.

If we’re whipping the camera back and forth and we want to have a sharp overall result and effect, we need a fast flash duration. Why, because the longer that that flash lasts one the person’s face, the more it’s going to show up on the effect as we pull across the image so we can’t really be firing those flashes at 1/1 power because the flash duration at 1/1 power might be like 1/250th of a second. We need to get it down to one to one-thousandth of a second and below that and so that means we need to generally be around one quarter of a second flash power and lower to get the best results from this effect. Otherwise you’re going to notice that your subject has streaking and that’s due the flash duration being too long so that’s where this balancing act comes into play because we know that we can’t power up the flash over one quarter power.

We know that we don’t want the background to be too bright because it’s going to overpower the subjects so we want to make sure that we kind of balance that background, use the ISO to kind of balance everything and then make sure that your ISO is at least high enough that you can also shoot at 1/4th flash power or lower, okay.

Let’s talk about real quick the light direction and quality because you’ll notice that there’s kind of different set ups with each of this shots. Typically for light direction equality we’re doing bare bulb flashing and we’re placing it directly behind the subject and basically if you want to create this effect where it’s kind of like they’re glowing and you see just the outline of their faces and so forth, the flash is directly behind their bodies and what I like to do is aim at –if the guy’s wearing a white shirt- you aim it into that white shirt and it blooms so just behind the girl’s shoulder and it’s aiming into the white shirt and it’s blooming up and it’s lighting both their faces and you get the reflection off of each other’s faces which is basically their skin lighting each other up, okay. If you want a rim light, then you place it for example further behind the subject bare bulb going directly into them okay, so that’s about like 10, 15 feet behind the subject going directly at them to create that outline of their shape. If you want them somewhere in between, you can always place it somewhere in between; this is I believe like 5 feet behind the subject over here on this side.

You can also use modifiers on the flash, one of my favorite modifiers for this type of effect is placing it close to the subject and using the Fong Dong, using the Gary Fong light sphere or a light sphere of your choice on the flash pointing it straight up and letting that dome bloom the effect out and you get this beautiful kind of highlight behind them so that’s the light direction that placed behind them. Generally we’re doing this bare bulb but you can also do it with a little bit of light modification, use a MagMod, a Fong Dong, whatever you want, whatever you’ve got that’s totally fine. You’re test shot is basically going to reveal whether your ambient light balance to your flash exposure is correct and whether your shutter speed is decent for the type of motion that you’re trying to create; this is what we mean by this is kind of the ultimate balancing act. This is why this entire course focuses on just one off- camera flash because there’s so much there to kind of muster before we move into multi-light setups.

With the light color and the white balance; well for these types of shots, one of my favorite things to do is generally we are gelling because we have backgrounds that are running around 3000 to 3600 Kelvin at night time because you’re using those night time lights so I don’t necessarily want the flash to be blue although if that’s one of the effects that you want to create you can do that; create that blue into kind of yellow contrast. What I like to do here is gel and sometimes I’ll double gel, sometimes I’ll use two CTO Gels stacked over the front of the flash because it makes the light basically more warm or more yellow than the ambient light so what we end up with is just this super warmth over them and then kind of a slightly less warmth around everything so for me it draws attention in kind of a cool way where we use color to draw attention into the subject.

Okay so generally we’ll use double CTOs for some of these, I think almost all these are double; this is the single CTO, these are both double CTO Gels and then we’re 1/8th to 1/4 power at 1/16 to 1/8, why because the flash is right up against his chest where it’s pulled further away there. Over here we’re at F2 and ISO 400, we’re using a one second shutter and we have a tripod so we’re basically using the tripod and whipping it across with a slower motion just to get –not necessarily slower motion- but we’re whipping it across because there’s less lights in the scene and so we need more motion to be able to capture that and we need a longer shutter speed to be able to catch that.

So here we’re firing at around 1/16th to 1/8th power because we’re at ISO 400 so remember how it’s going to affect that okay. Once you get everything set up, once you got it all right, what we’re going for with these shots, anytime you’re back lighting, anytime you’re rim lighting, anytime you’re creating these silhouetting type effects; again we’re not lighting the face properly where you want them to look into the camera so when we pose and we shoot these types of shots, we’re posing them facing each other, we’re dipping their heads and foreheads against each other, closing their eyes, we’re having them look at each other, generally looking at each other, if you can see eyes it might look a little bit weird so just keep that in mind.

We’re having them go for kisses, we’re keeping their profiles open so we can see their outlines and their shapes and so forth and making this about them. If their eyes are open and they’re looking in the camera, it’s the easiest way to ruin this shot completely because you’re not properly lighting the face and the first area of distraction is going to be the fact that there is not correct lighting on the face. So your pose in these types of shots is really everything because we want to make sure that we’re using a pose that’s appropriate for the lighting effect that we’re using.

Okay so we pose, we frame, we shoot, whenever you’re doing this kind of stuff use different motion so this is a tripod whip pan so we have it on our MeFOTO GlobeTrotter and I’m just loosening the top head and just turning it so I’m just spinning it back and forth and taking a few different shots. This is hand held and all we’re doing is twisting; we’re twisting and moving the camera and again we have a Phottix Mitros setup with the 2x CTO and this is again another tripod so again we’re on a MeFoto we’re pulling it across the scene.

Anytime you want these straight line streaks like this, you need to be on a tripod otherwise unless you have image stabilization, there will be a little bit of waviness, a little bit of jaggedness to the lines. All right so last thing just when it comes to that light, just analyse it a little bit closely, zoom in and take a look at it with shots like these for example you might get it almost spot on with this shot, I might go into Photoshop later on and just adjust the highlight on her chin. You might want to make sure that those highlights, those shadows are falling in the right places or that if they are just a little bit off, that they’re fixable in Photoshop. Sometimes to get it perfect, it might take too long, this is a five minutes fix to just kind of clone some of that off in Photoshop but getting it right in the scene might take twenty minutes so that’s where you need to decide on the balancing act there between getting it right in camera versus what’s a quick and easy fix in post.

By the way look at the shadows, look at the highlights with each one of these shots that you take and just analyse closely and last tip is try different motions. I love doing tons of different motions, different effects; you can zoom, you can twist, you can whip, you can do whatever you like with these types of effects, this is one of the funnest types of techniques to just getting wild, getting crazy and getting amazing images out of it and of course imagine just showing these images to your client, they’re going to be like what the heck, how did you just … this was literally in front of a parking lot, this was just in front of this area with nothing there and this was in front of the actual building here with all sort of people inside of it and they were like, “we want to get the Segerstrom … just to kind of know that we were there” and I’m like well there’s all sorts of people inside of it, let’s do this and for them they know that they’re still in front of the Segerstrom and these lights are still that building behind them and so it still has that meaning there but they had this really cool shot of it and it’s something that really made them happy so go out and get crazy with the whip pan.