Street Photography: Slow Catches Fast

p1110018.JPGNew York is fast.  And for that reason, I can almost always pick out who the tourists are.  They tend to amble along impeding the natives who are speedwalking to make their appointments or to catch a train, bus, or taxicab.  Perhaps this businessman had the right idea in avoiding the sidewalk altogether and taking to the street on a rented Citibike.

I wanted to convey that sense of hurried motion.  To do that, of course, I needed a subject that was actually traveling pretty quickly.  I was looking intently and I saw this bicyclist way down 32nd Street and heading my way.  He was coming up fast so I knew  that I, too, had to act fast.  I immediately made an adjustment to the shutter speed on my camera.  Interestingly, this adjustment meant slowing the opening and closing of the lens in order to catch him moving fast.  

The impulse might be to hold the camera steady and snap the shutter as he passes by.  Doing that will show the background in focus (since it is stationary) and the bicyclist will appear blurred (since he is moving past).  And that would produce a perfectly fine photograph.

I decided, however, to create the opposite effect:   have the bicyclist as much in focus as possible as if I was moving along with him and was seeing the background move past in a blur.  To accomplish that result, I trained my camera on the bicyclist and panned my camera along with him, trying to keep him within the frame of my viewfinder.

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Published by Xiomáro

Nationally exhibited artist, photographer, speaker, teacher, and curator. Author of "Weir Farm National Historic Site" (Arcadia Publishing).

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