The peak of the ac­tion – quite lit­er­ally

Things thrown in the air fol­low an arc, and the top of the arc is both the slow­est mo­ment and – quite of­ten – the clas­sic mo­ment

NPhoto - - Nikopedia -

In last month’s ar­ti­cle on cap­tur­ing the mo­ment we saw a clas­sic mo­ment in pho­tog­ra­phy: a horse with all four of its hooves off the ground. I say clas­sic be­cause it was in 1878 in Cal­i­for­nia that pho­tog­ra­pher Ead­weard Muy­bridge, com­mis­sioned by a wealthy pa­tron, used an early form of high-speed pho­tog­ra­phy to show what the eye had never pre­vi­ously been able to see: this pre­cise, mid-air mo­ment. This frozen in mid-air qual­ity made it spe­cial, and things thrown in the air have the same qual­ity. Put al­most any pho­tog­ra­pher in front of a scene where some­thing is be­ing thrown a short dis­tance (so that it stays in the frame), and they’ll try to catch the same mid-air mo­ment, usu­ally the peak of the par­a­bola. There is some logic in do­ing this, be­cause not only does the thing sus­pended in mid-air catch the viewer’s at­ten­tion, it also con­nects the thrower with the des­ti­na­tion.

The im­age shown here was taken for a story on a school in Thai­land that trains macaques to pick ripe co­conuts. This par­tic­u­lar macaque also helped out on the ground. As the shot shows, the key to mid-air mo­ments is a com­bi­na­tion of good tim­ing and a clear view­point, with what­ever is fly­ing through the air clearly vis­i­ble against the back­drop.

Here, the slow­est mo­ment in the arc of the co­conut be­ing tossed is when it’s at its high­est point, and what helps make the shot is that the two co­conuts are aligned

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