Photography Video Tutorial: Light Speed Escalator

Earlier this year, in February, I took a fun photo at a Refocus Phoenix outing. Within the next 48 hours, that photo attracted more views (140,000+), received more comments (161) and favorites (608), and was talked about on the internet more than all of the rest of my photos combined.

Josh Gomez on the “Light Speed Escalator” — February 2007

With all the excitement around the photo, I wanted to share with everyone how simple and easy the effect is. I also wanted to show some non-believers that the effect was actually achieved without computer enhancements.

Tonight, I finally took the time to drive back to the Brickyard in Tempe and shoot a video tutorial. I took my cheap JVC camcorder ($300-$400), cheap Canon Digital Rebel XT with kit 18-55mm 3.5 lens (currently under $500), and two reeeally cheap tripods and made this cheap video!

The Result: Brian Shaler — November 2007

Let me know what you think in the comments here (general feedback), on Viddler (feedback on the video), or Flickr (feedback on the photo).

61 Replies to “Photography Video Tutorial: Light Speed Escalator”

  1. Very nicely done! I was interested to see how the video would end… luckily no loss of your vid camera. :)

    I am looking forward to more videos of your photography techniques!

  2. Awesome technique. I’ll have to try it out sometime for sure. Still new to the game of photography, let alone digital photography.

    I’ll keep looking at your Twits

  3. That looks fantastic. I have a Cannon 350D (which is what the rebel is called in the UK) and now feel challenged to do some more adventurous things with it!

  4. Very nice, great job both doing the photo and explaining clearly how you did it. We very much appreciate the fact that you took the time to explain. Information democracy in action ;)

  5. Interesting! I’ve dabbled in long exposures myself, and am always looking for a new trick to take for a spin!

    Now at full resolution do you still appear still and sharp? Because in my experience it is very difficult to keep a person still for any sort of long exposure.
    Does the slight bumping of the escalator do anything to the photo either?

  6. Everything theoretical about this is cool. 20 second exposure to blur factual. The inherent vibration of the escalator and human inability to remain PERFECTLY still for 20 seconds makes me question how the heck your face is so sharp and in image.
    That said…everyone should try it and see if they can get a cool shot like this. HOLD STILL. GET AN ESCALATOR that does not vibrate. I should not overlook an image stabilization feature that might be a component of a REALLY good digital still camera.
    Kudos! Worth a try.

  7. I have to say that I am puzzled as well as to how the face could be so tack sharp while moving on an escalator. The video did appear to show that the subject sat perfectly still, but I have to believe that even the slightest vibration through the escalator would cause a little bit of blur. Possibly the face was photoshopped in.

    Not sure about other cameras, but Canon recommends NOT using the IS function while on a tripod but I think this is mainly to conserve battery.

  8. I love it! I don’t think I could sit still enough for 20 seconds, though. And a $600 dollar camera isn’t cheap by my standards, but I know you’re comparing it to other DSLRs.

  9. i also wonder how your face could be so bloody sharp on a 20 second exposure. My first thought was a long exposure with a second curtain sync flash (where the flas comes at the very end of the exposure in order to freeze the image, so to speak). Enlighten us as to how you sit so still, please

  10. Very cool. I did something like this a while back at the Portland airport on one of the “moving sidewalks” by just putting the camera on the handrail.

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  12. Yeah, I’m assuming the image stabilization in the lens helps keep the face steady.

    Thanks for the tutorial. I already knew how it works, but it was worth it seeing you jump up and grab the tripods as the escalator reached the bottom!

  13. Great technique.
    The same little trick can be used in a driving car or on a rotating carusele in Paris.

  14. Awesome picture
    and great job with the tutorial video
    I will definately be trying this in the local mall :-)

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