Stopping the moment of suspense
THE GLIBLY STATED TRUTH that peak action can be stopped at slow shutter speeds is graphically confirmed in the Kodachrome spectacular on the facing page—planned and executed by a young New York professional, Marvin E. Newman.
Shooting from the floor of Madison Square Garden on the opening night of the 1955 Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey Circus, the photographer isolated
his subject (headline trapeze artist, Mara) in the finder of his M-3 Leica to which an 85 mm Nikkor ƒ/1.5 lens had been specially fitted. The performer’s graceful swing was stopped by a shutterspeed setting of only i/50 second on Type A Kodachrome, with the lens stopped down to ƒ/2. Firing a filtered SR II (Strobo Research) electronic flash lamp as a fill-in source from the camera posi(Continued on page ig2) tion, 40 feet away, Newman created a delicate balance between the harsh overhead spotlighting and the general frontal illumination.
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An added bonus was the framing of the subject by the graceful arc of the guide ropes in the background—a compositional element which the photographer frankly admits he never saw in the camera viewfinder, for the brilliance of the fill-in source was needed to bring it up to a level where it would record. The electronic flash had nothing whatever to do with stopping the subject’s movement.
The exposure was based on Newman’s experience shooting the 1954 circus in the same arena. Attempting to measure the brilliance of the prevailing light would have been futile, between the difficulties arising from the distance of his principal subject and the milling and pushing of the scores of accredited professional photographers who had been given the freedom of the circus during the opening performance. The fill-in device, however, was a technique that he had worked out in the intervening year.
Sports and action shooting has become as much of a specialty as any facet of Newman’s short, active career as a working photographer. He recently completed a 5-month association with Macfadden’s Sports magazine, following a free-lance stint during which his work was published in leading national weeklies, Sunday-magazine supplements, and monthly
magazines for men. The black-and-white photograph reproduced on page 86 typifies his feeling of confidence in being able to capture action at the “perfect moment of suspense” without resorting to extremely fast shutter speeds. With hand-held Nikon equipped with a 135-mm Nikkor lens, he recorded the complex subject at f/3.5 and 1/100 second on Kodak Plux-X film, forcing the development in Promicrol. The performers are the Flying Palazzio’s at the same circus as the color photograph on page 87.—fcs