Skip to comments.Just Fun, or Art? A Real Tossup [Camera Tossing!]
Posted on 04/10/2006 1:07:42 PM PDT by Incorrigible
Just Fun, or Art? A Real Tossup
BY FRAN HENRY
Picture this. You are at a lame party, but you can't leave because it's at your house.
We offer this solution to your problem: Grab your digital camera, set the shutter speed real slow -- at one second or in night mode -- and prepare to dazzle the crowd before it disperses out of boredom.
With a flourish, you will demonstrate the wondrous world of camera tossing, in which your digital camera takes interesting pictures more or less on its own.
Here's what you'll do at this hypothetical party that's going south:
After you depress the shutter button, you toss your camera 2 or 3 feet into the air and catch it before it lands. It is crucial that you catch the camera or somehow cushion its landing. You could have your chubbiest friends lie on the ground, hip to hip, and toss the camera above them. Or maybe not.
While the camera is on its own, it will take a picture. And this is what you'll show your guests, and maybe even let them try, too -- at least the ones who still are able to catch moving objects.
Who thought of this? Lots of people, probably, but a 28-year-old Texan named Ryan Gallagher, a theatrical lighting specialist, put his camera-toss pictures on Flickr.com, a photo-sharing Web site. As a community of fellow camera tossers formed, he created a Web log, cameratoss.blogspot.com, for the camera tossers' pictures.
Word got around quickly, and Gallagher was offered a gallery show in Hamburg, Germany. He figures he first tossed his camera Aug. 20, and his exhibit opened Jan. 4.
And Gallagher was there, his first trip to Europe, subsidized in part by the online Der Spiegel, a German newsmagazine.
"It was standing room only," Gallagher said in a cell-phone conversation.
He was sitting at a sidewalk coffee shop in Austin, Texas, his words blurred slightly by passing traffic. Six of his 23 prints sold for about 200 euros each, or about $240.
Naturally someone groused that Gallagher had shot his pictures with a cheap digital, but that was the worst of the criticism, he said. Indeed, it was a cheap digital, a Vivitar with a cracked LCD, but it already was cracked when a friend gave it to him.
His show apparently was well received, because the gallery extended it another three weeks. Gallagher said an exhibit in Berlin is also in the planning stages, a show he'll share with Ottmar Hoerl, a German artist who has made photographs with cameras hurled from a nine-story building.
While Gallagher is pleased that he sold some prints, money isn't his main interest.
"I gave away my technique right away. If I had been interested in making money, I would have kept my technique to myself," he said, then paused, "and it probably wouldn't have gone anywhere." He laughed.
"It would be nice if artists could make money doing art," he said.
But are his pictures art?
"Tossing can only be considered art, although there's a lot of application in graphic art," he said. "I've had a lot of inquiries to use my images in graphic design." (See his work at his Web site, kineticphotography.net.)
Cleveland photographer and photo historian Herb Ascherman is happy -- make that delighted -- that Gallagher doesn't call his work photography.
"Some gorgeous pictures, I admit," he said upon viewing Gallagher's work at his Web site. "But photography is a communicative art. It portrays a thought or emotion."
Besides, Ascherman said, "we were doing this stuff before these guys were born. We used to get stoned and put the camera on the dashboard and drive. Big deal."
Maybe camera tossing can be called a kind of performance art, Cleveland commercial photographer Barney Taxel said.
"I suppose it does reflect a little of the culture when one is willing to toss a camera into the air and risk its destruction," he said.
And that's another thing you can tell your guests while they're cushioning your camera's fall.
HOW IT'S DONE
Here are the basics of camera tossing. For more detailed instruction, go to cameratoss.blogspot.com, the Web site of Ryan Gallagher, an expert in the technique.
Get a cheap digital camera, and select an area with a light source.
Set the shutter speed for a second or two, or use night mode, if it's easier to set.
If you don't trust your ability to catch the camera as it falls, secure it to your wrist with a cord or pad the landing area.
Hit the shutter just as you toss the camera into the air -- a couple feet will do. Toss with a flick of your wrist. Here's where a lightweight camera works best.
Catch the camera, and look at your photo. Erase it if it's not interesting, and try again.
April 7, 2006
(Fran Henry is a reporter for The Plain Dealer of Cleveland. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Not for commercial use. For educational and discussion purposes only.
Tired of threads that
1) Make accusations against other FReepers and FR moderators
2) Cause people to wonder if humans have evolved or were influenced Divinely in anyway
3) Slander or pander to President Bush
Then this is the fun thread for you!
|The swirling patterns in this image were created by tossing a camera up underneath a trade show booth awning festooned with flashing red and yellow lights. (Photo by Thomas Ondrey)|
The lawyers made them say that.
LOL, and yes!
This is actually pretty cool.
Bunch of tossers. :-)
Whatever happened to stealthly taking other peoples cameras and taking the "moon shot" for the unsuspecting owner?
Seems the best fads always fade quickly.
Also, try pointing a camera at an overactive child sometime, on long exposure. I used to think this ruined my shots of my nephews, until I realized that the shots captured the motion and energy of children.
Art is in the eye, even a digital eye.
I am also not a fan of Jackson Pollack. But either he was an artist, or he was lucky. If he was lucky, then the man who puts a drop cloth under a flock of pigeons may be equally "lucky". If we consider Jackson Pollack an artist (and most people do) then we recognize that he brought "something special" with him when he approached his work.
"Camera Tossing" results are either good or bad a matter of luck. The results are not recognizably attributable to a particular "artist". There's nothing special here.
I'm tired of art that can be done by anyone.
Now that our intrepid reporter has discovered cameratoss perhaps she can go on to enlighten us on the history of LoMo photography.
If you leave the cap on you get results like this
At least they're not tossing salads.
Think I'll try to figure a method to achieve it - one that doesn't involve throwing $1500 into the air.
Yeah, but if you look at these photos long enough you'll be tossing your cookies.
If you want to toss about $120 about 1300' in the air, click here.
None of these accidental pics compare to the worst sunset.
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