First of all, if you watched the lead video above, you have learned that Matthew Jones is possibly a crazy person. Car photography is absolutely a challenge, but rollerblading down the road at full speed to capture driving action is just bonkers. When I heard Matthew talk about doing this and when I saw the high quality of his images, I knew I had to feature him on Fstoppers. Obviously this technique is not for everyone, but Matthew has absolutely captured my attention with his story. Read below to read why he has chosen to do this and see samples of his great photography,
There are numerous ways to emphasis movement in a vehicle... For example, you can shoot from one vehicle to another. Also, you can use a rig, which is essentially a long arm attached to the subject vehicle with a camera at the end of it facing back at the vehicle. You can stay stationary and pan your camera as a vehicle drives by. There is even very expensive virtual software that makes a parked car look like it's flying (you need to be darn good at post production to make this look convincing). Although, this is the first time I have seen rollerblades used to create beautiful dynamic motion shots of cars and motorcycles and I think I really like it.
According to what Matthew Jones exclusively shared with Fstoppers:
The whole idea of the human rig shot really sparked a few months back while living in Southern California when I was randomly reunited with one of my childhood best friends. Rather than hitting the nightlife on the weekends, we decided to go out and do what we knew best, skate. But rather than blading down rails or grinding ledges as we’ve always done, we decided to keep it simple and change things up a bit. So we would strap up, cruise the city and search for the biggest hills we could find in effort to go as fast as possible as we dodged traffic and linked sections of mountain roads together. The more we met up, the bigger we went. Pushing our limits to see how fast, and how far we could travel. Eventually, we started bringing our cameras out to film and shoot our evening activities and I believe that's where it finally hit me. That this idea of a disconnected, “human rig” would not only be entirely possible, but extremely fun.
Since starting this process, one of the main questions I've been asked (aside from the, "what if you fall?!") would have to be, "What’s the difference between being on blades, and simply shooting out of a chase car?" To be completely honest, I really didn't know at first. I just wanted to experiment with combining my two greatest passions, yet the further I dug into the technique, the clearer the answer became...
With shooting action on blades I feel that it provides a directly irreplaceable connection with the subject. There is no shouting at your chase car's pilot to speed up, or slow down. And there are no window pillars or door frames confining you to a designated shooting space. Forget replicating the sense of motion in Photoshop or tirelessly editing out a bulky rig - the freedom is completely yours, and the decision to jump from left to right, high to low, or even speed up at a moments notice is entirely up to you. And best of all, it’s all natural.
In addition, where the technique really comes into play is while shooting in the city, or a crowded, generally unachievable area. Skitching along side the subject as you explore the city allows you to capitalize on every opportunity that the environment presents, as well as reach shots that would generally be near impossible with a chase/follow car. It also eliminates that, "Hey! That looks cool right there! Circle the block a few times and I'll stand on this corner as you drive by…." Every shot is 100%, entirely in its own moment. It’s almost as if you're capturing chaos in its purest form.
To briefly touch on the technical side of things, its pretty much exactly what you see. Aggressive rollerblades with a larger frame, allowing the housing of 80mm wheels for a faster, smoother cruise. A shutter speed varying around 1/10th-1/15th, and a Kenyon gyrostabilizer to increase the slow shutter's hit/miss ratio as far as keeping things tack sharp. Skitching along with a rope isn't really necessary in anyway, and also kind of defeats the purpose of the technique as it requires an extra bit of editing time in post...
I think I was just having fun, wanted to experiment a bit more and go a bit faster.
With all said and done, shooting photos while blindly cruising down a hill or an inner city intersection may not always be the most practical technique for every situation, or needless to say, the "safest", but with the process still in its experimental stages, I feel the possibilities are nearly endless. From chasing athletes and various forms of actions sports through center city roads, to following motorcycles and cars ripping through open canyons, the effects are open for the taking. Especially considering what's possible while operating a Movi or Ronin. And at the end of the day, I’m just out here having an absolute blast. Isn’t that what photography is all about?
I should add that I do not suggest trying anything like this unless you are a trained professional. Matthew has been blading on a regular basis for over a decade and this was something that came fairly naturally to him. Oh, and speaking as a former member of fire and rescue, I also hihgly suggest you wear the proper safety and protective gear, especially when riding on public roads. That being said, I think Matthew is on to something pretty fantastic here.
Make sure to check out Matthew's site: MatthewJonesPhoto.com
Have questions for Matthew? Ask below and he will answer to his best ability.