Sunday, May 6, 2012

After Jacques Henri Lartigue Le Grand Prix A.C.F.

Jacques Henri Lartigue was an extraordinary photographer. He was a recreatonal photographer and did not have to earn his money with photography, being born in a wealthy family. At a tender age he produced good photographs, which he continued to do until he died. His photographs were often beautiful and spontaneous. Many pictures were taken handheld, although the cameras were large and heavy. 

One photograph of Lartigue is very well known. It depicts a racing car and people along side the road. This photograph is so appealing because of its distortions. The man at the side of the road is leaning to the left, while the hind wheel of the car is deformed to an oblique ellipse. The car is only half visible and together with the deformations it gives artistic power to the image: the speed of the car seems bigger because of the distorted wheel, as though it was a cartoon. The car is speeding out of the image. In the mean time, the left bystander falls sideways in a silent underwater world with which the race driver has no contact. Even the spokes of the wheel are bent in the driving direction, if you look carefully. The effect came about because Jacques Henri used a large camera which he panned to follow the car (but not quite fast enough) and he used a focal plane shutter of which the slit moved from top to bottom. In this way we see different moments in time projected on different parts of the film. In the image the slit of the focal plane shutter moved upward because of the bottom-up projection of the lens. Both the leaning of the bystander and the deformation of the wheel and spokes can be explained in this way, demonstrated by this animation (which I wrote in MatLab). The animation should speak for itself.
http://www.photoplaza.nl/lindolfi/LartigueAnimation1.gif 
- quoted from Lindolfi

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I was skating past a vintage 1940's car and tried capturing the car as I was skateboarding the opposite direction it was moving while trying to keep the car in fixed focus. Instead I completely missed and ended up with this. I was most joyous.

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