freezing motion at slow shutter speeds


Baby Brownie in NYC
LIFE Sep 17, 1951

Toronto. In the days of film, photographers used a trick to freeze a subject into sharp focus Рscanning.  An article in a very old issue of LIFE magazine (Sept 17, 1951, p 121) shows the effect at a ball game using the primitive shutter in a box camera (about 1/30th second top speed).

The article shows how a NYC photographer, Hy Peskin, ditches his professional gear for a cheap $3 Baby Brownie (This is an older model, Hy used one like I had as a kid). Hy took two shots, first panning the runner as he hit first base – runner sharp everything else blurry. Then second, holding the tiny camera still – base runner blurry, all else more or less sharp.

Another trick, often used (by me and many others) is to snap the shot just as the subject reached peak motion – e.g. a child on a swing. The subject slows, stops, then accelerates back. With a bit of skill, the photo is snapped just as the subject stops and reverses direction.

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