An object in motion

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For the second assignment in my Photo 6 Digital Camera Fundamentals class this past spring, the instructor asked us to practice controlling motion by using manual camera controls for shutter speed and aperture. We could photograph any one subject to produce a series of eight photographs that showed a range of motion with the camera sitting still and eight photographs that showed a range of motion with the camera moving. The purpose of the assignment was to apply basic manual settings to produce blur shots and panning shots.

I enlisted the help of my good friend Eric Parker for the project. Eric teaches writing and literature courses at the University of Alabama, but he’s in Fresno for several months working on his book project. I’ve known Eric since 2004 and he has almost always chosen to be a bicycle rider, partly for financial reasons but mostly for environmental reasons. So, I invited Eric over to my house and asked him to hop on my wife’s Raleigh Special cruiser and pedal back and forth on our street in front of Cary Park. We found a nice spot about halfway down the street with a sign at the edge of the park that reads: No Vehicles on the Lawn. I thought that would make a nice juxtaposition of man vs. nature to frame each photograph in the series.

To make the photos, I again used my hand-me-down Nikon D50 digital SLR camera and Nikkor AF-S 35mm f/1.8 prime lens. We got a few strange looks from neighbors passing by in their cars, but for the most part Eric just rode up and down the street about 30 times as I stood nearby manually making exposures at different settings, one by one. My favorite photograph in the motion series is the one made at 1/30 of a second; my favorite in the panning series is the one at 1/8 of a second.

The full set reminded me of Newton’s laws of motion: basically, an object in motion stays in motion unless the object is acted upon by some outside force. I think Newton’s laws are good reminders for creative types like Eric and me, trying to figure out how to make it as freelance writers/teachers/artists. If we keep moving, the only thing that can stop us is the lens in which we view ourselves.

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