Jacques Henri Lartigue – Car Trip

Posted: November 29, 2011 in Uncategorized

At the age of six, Jacque Henri Lartigue took this photograph with an ICA camera on a 4 x 5 inch glass plate. Even though he only intended to follow the car in its course with a panning technique, it gave the photograph an uncommon look; the wheel of the car is deformed into an oblique ellipse and the spectators are leaning abnormally to the left.

Particular to this photograph, the result could not be obtained with a modern camera. Firstly the panning was not exactly right as the photographer was not moving quite fast enough to get a perfectly frozen moving car. More importantly though, the focal plane shutter with its slit moving from top to bottom, made the different images in time to be projected on different part of the film, giving it its distorted appearance.

Even if it was not the effect wanted by Lartigue and that he thought it as an unsuccessful picture, it went famous because of its interesting effect. In fact, the oblique ellipse of the wheel gives the car the look of a particularly fast car and amplify its movement. The cartoon effect resulting from it gives an even more sense of movement. The same thing applies to the leaning on the left persons in the back; it gives the impression that the car is so fast that we cannot even register the exact emplacement of those spectators. It makes a disconnection between those in the course – meaning the car – and those watching. The fact that the spectators are a bit blurred – due to the panning technique – and that they are leaning in the opposite direction makes it clear that they are not in the course. Finally, the mistake of Lartigue makes the photograph even more stronger and meaningful.

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