“Skate Blur” by Kevin Thornhill

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skate blur

"Skate Blur" by Kevin Thornhill

Urban environments are an awesome source of inspiration.  There are so many textures and colors – even the graffiti is beautiful in the right context.  But perhaps the most exciting aspect of the the urban environment is the human element.  This week, Kevin Thornhill brings us this wonderful photograph, titled Skate Blur, which shows us the true influence of the human element.

First and foremost, I must point out that this was shot at a shutter speed of 1/25 – pretty slow.  Kevin likely used a tripod, but there are just some people that are somehow magically able to shoot tack sharp images using nothing more than their stable hands.  Whatever the case, Kevin got a tack sharp photograph of the wall at a shutter speed long enough to catch the skate board rider in motion.  Because of the colors in the background, I don’t really consider the skater to be the primary subject in-and-of itself.  But he is, to me, an essential piece of the composition.

Skate Blur is one of those photos that could have many interpretations.  I will not pretend to know Kevin’s intent when he shot this photo.  But in photography, the photographer’s intent isn’t always important.  What’s really important is that it affects you in some way.  So with that in mind, I will offer my own interpretation.

To me, Skate Blur is a commentary on the affect that humans have on an environment.  The cityscape was certainly built by humans, but these old buildings were built with respect.  In an earlier era, the buildings were seen as buildings.  Buildings like these were mostly utilitarian – not an artistic statement that you might expect of the Empire State Building or the Chrysler Building or the Louvre.  But in that earlier era, these buildings were nothing more than that.  To later generations, these buildings have become a canvas.  But the juxtaposition of the photographer, Kevin, capturing the unique quality of the wall and its graffiti while the skater doesn’t give it a second glance.  The graffiti is the new environment, and it is apparently not the eyesore that we once thought it was.

My view is probably vastly different than Kevin’s intent.

Anyhow, I’m really inspired by this image for two important reasons:  Color and Blur.  Bright color in an urban environment is so rare that the graffiti proffers such a refreshing appeal in a photograph.  But the skateboarder in motion makes the shot.  The blur gives the photograph depth and a time signature.  These two elements create such a dramatic composition.

I would of course like to thank Kevin for sharing his work with the Shutter Photo @ Flickr Group.  In his short time with us, he has already posted some inspiring photographs.  I would also like to point out that Kevin has a pretty impressive portfolio on his own personal website.  Be sure to spend some time in his Black & White gallery – you’re guaranteed to be inspired.

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About Author

D. Travis North is a professional Landscape Architect, a Freelance Photographer and founder of Shutter Photo. Ever since he picked up his first SLR, his father's Nikon N2000, he's been hooked on photography. Travis likes to photograph urban environments, architectural details and has a new-found interest in close-up photography. His work can be found at D. Travis North Photography. Follow Travis on twitter: @dtnorth.

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