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Post by TWiP Contributor: Jim Austin

A bullet speeds out of a gun. Everyone knows how this sounds. No one knew how it looked until a few master photographers made it into an iconic subject in photography.

Bullets frozen in flight have been captured by masters like Harold Edgerton, the father of electronic flash, and by my graduate school mentor Andrew Davidhazy at R.I.T. who caught a bullet piercing a Queen of Diamonds playing card. To create these award-winning high speed images of bullets lemons and cards, and wasps hovering in mid-flight, Davidhazy spent years perfecting his photo-instrumentation lab at RIT.

Speed is a time-honored theme in the history of photography.

We live now in an age of speed. Commercial and ad photography means getting images to your buyers around the world in an instant. Even in our age of speed, creative ideas still evolve slowly.

As our visual ideas evolve, mentally, they have no fixed speed to completion. Some take months or years to ripen. For instance, I’d been photographing stained glass for years before I made “Bullet of Faith” inspired by a trip to a cathedral. Photographing a vertical image of a stained glass window, I downloaded the image and put it aside in Lightroom.

Weeks later, seeing it again when I was just chilling out, I had thoughts about rotating the image 90 degrees, and adding motion. The title came only after I watched a report about the Middle East crisis on a news blog. I used tools I was comfortable with: rotation, motion blurring, Gaussian blur, filters, and warping. A copy layer in Photoshop was filtered with the Flaming Pear Flood Filter Plug-in. Translucent motion blur on a layer created a visual sense of speed across the frame. Slowly, a picture of a stained-glass window changed from lead and glass back into a spiritual idea. The entire mental process was closer to the Chaos theory of evolution, with progress in fits and starts, than any smooth and evenly sequenced train of thought.

Bottom Line? With a nod to David duChemin, who teaches ways to work fast so you can work slowly, we can also work slowly, and think in bursts, to work creatively.

Credits

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TWiP Contributor: Jim Austin

Website: www.jimages.com

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