The little red dirt bike
April 13, 2016 | Ed Foster Jr.
I’m working in my digital “darkroom” one afternoon last week when I hear the revved-up sound of a small cycle engine zipping down our street. Within seconds the sound returns, but from the opposite direction and then down again, and up again, again and again.
Someone was disturbing my solace. Oh, it was not the noise, it’s that someone was kindling my curiosity right out in front of our house. I could not resist so I went out front and waited beneath the shade of the new green foliage of our giant red maple. The wait was short.
Within seconds a youngster on a small red dirt bike shot down the street for at least the dozenth time. He made a U-turn about 100 yards to my left and repeated the back and forth maneuvers until I motioned for him to stop.
The young driver pulled over and I learned his name is Brandon, he is 12 years old and he is a new neighbor on our street. We made a little small talk. He was exercising his small red dirt bike and I mentioned that I would like to make some motion photos, if it was acceptable with his parents. Within minutes he returned and told me his father approved.
I asked if he would keep doing what he was doing – very carefully – and I would try to capture him in motion by panning my camera as he passed by. It is a technique I have used over the years quite successfully to isolate fast moving objects from their backgrounds. The real trick is to use a moderately slow shutter speed and pan the camera at about the same speed as the moving object.
We are very blessed that we are on a residential street with very little traffic and we are doubly fortunate that young Brandon is a very mature, cautious and safe operator.
As the 2003 Honda XR 50 beginner dirt bike passed from my left and then right, back and forth at least thirty times, I kept trying to track it. “Again, Brandon,” I kept telling him.
Over the years I never seemed to have a problem with panning to capture race boats, athletes, bicyclist and other fast-moving objects, but this blur-of-a-dirt-bike, well that’s another story. It’s like attempting to track a gnat.
“Again, Brandon, again!”