Absent Minded in the Crosswalk

By: Gustav Hoiland

Sep 21 2010

Category: lensbaby

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Shutter:1/0 sec
Camera:NIKON D80
Headlights Ablaze

I cannot sing high enough praises to pure and spontaneous experimental shooting. Throw even previsualization out the window. Barely a “hmm” escaped my brain, much less mouth, before rattling off two exposures while striding on a crosswalk past an irate driver, bicycle in one hand, camera in the other. It was a rapid “what if I shot my bike without looking, much less focusing (always a  two handed dance with the Lensbaby) right here right now.”

I got quite lucky here, but I’ll readily admit some of my favorite single images have come from that which is fortune. Perhaps not as bold as destiny or fate, but alas a healthy spoonful of good fortune (which can only be realized if there’s a camera in your hand with alarming frequency). #1 thing that made this image possible was the headlights of the car that I was passing by on foot. I didn’t even notice the golden illumination on the cycle until after the photos had been shot. Subsequent tries with the same settings were nothing but “the inky shadows” (ongoing Car-Talk reference).

No cropping here and only minor color alteration to boot. Granted I’ve trained my hand fairly extensively on shooting solo (sans eye) with my current camera, but as I mentioned earlier, this composition didn’t consciously construct itself in my head before pressing. The downtube comes so perfectly across the frame, from blur to sharp to blur, right into the left corner. The two tines of the fork come down beneath it in their darkness.

Do I want to dabble in the question of free will in regards to this creation? In some nifty tests a bunch of researchers electrode’d people’s brains and then asked them to wiggle their finger whenever they wanted to in the next minute or so. From this came rather clear evidence that the brain decided to wiggle before the subjects thought “ok I’m going to wiggle now,” which comes even before the signal is sent to the finger to wiggle. Meaning the brain gives the impression of free will to the person, but is really pulling the strings behind the curtain. Explained much more fully in an episode of Radio Lab, a most excellent science-y podcast/hour-long radio show.


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