Slit scan = mind blown

Years ago, in the back pages of Esquire or Harper’s Bazaar something, I saw a photograph that really bent my soul. Some clever fellow had photographed a woman performing tai-chi in such a way that the camera seemed to map her motion rather than just capture her position in space. I never saw anything like it again for years, but the image haunted me. I can’t describe to you how this single colour image seemed to show the movements of a very graceful person without the usual smeary shaping that comes from prolonged exposure; it looked a bit like the demented imagery one produces by moving an original across the glass of a photocopier while the machine is working, but really, really pretty.

I intuited that it had something to do with shifting a long, thin aperature across the film plane while the shutter was open, but beyond that I hadn’t a clue. I didn’t even know what to call it, or I’d have looked it up. Well, today, in researching a phenomenon camera buffs call “rolling shutter syndrome” (about which more later) I stumbled across the thing again — and now I even know what to call it: Slit scan.

Here’s my first bashful whack at it:

A slit scan self-portrait. Note the Cyrano de Bergerac
A slit scan self-portrait. Note the Cyrano de Bergerac

Pretty cool, huh? More soon

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