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Physics Photo Contest
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Sep 19, 2012
For my physics class, i was presented with an assignment to enter a national physics photo contest. If one places in the contest, they receive 10 extra points added to their final grade. Really wanted to find a rock climbing application for this project, and had a few ideas.

The good one I came up with was a photo of me taking a big lead fall and activating a screamer. If i could get a good shot of the screamer tearing , me falling, backdrop and all, I think it would be pretty badass.

I climb trad in the Gunks, and that'll be where I'll be taking the photo. Was thinking doing that with the screamer on the Modern Times roof (a huge tiered roof at the top of the cliff at a really killer section of the cliff band).

Wanted to know what you guys think. Any other ideas? think this is good?

this is a link to the contest page:

rules and stuff are listed, aswell as some winner from the past year.

Dale Storti
Joined May 28, 2012
65 points
Sep 19, 2012
Honestly I don't think this is a good idea for a couple of reasons

1) It's going to be extremely difficult to get the shot timed correctly.
2) Because of #1, you'll likely have to take a lot of lead falls, and I don't recommend even taking one lead fall intentionally.
3) A screamer tearing open isn't going to be all that photogenic and to anyone but an avid climber will have no meaning.

Based on the photos that have won in years past, I think you should go with something simpler. Climbing is still a good subject, but keep it simple. Maybe a backlit cloud of chalk, a shiny new cam being placed, a rock exploding after you've trundled it? (that's a joke...please don't trundle rocks) It seems like its more about the photography than the physics. Get all artsy fartsy with it. Good luck!
Joined Mar 21, 2011
25 points
Sep 19, 2012
High school physics is hard to photograph in a way that screams "physics!" in part because high school physics deals with mass and time, things you can't really capture on film. What might be fun is set up a rope swing and super-impose multiple moments during the swing (presumably separated by the same time interval) and show how velocity varies over time in such a swing, or (more esoterically) the relationship between potential and kinetic energy. Similarly, a pendulum fall (especially one that involves some distance of vertical free-fall before the rope starts to bring you back in line) would be pretty cool if you could get a high enough frame rate. You might experiment with old 16mm movie cameras, and do the stitching in the dark room, or digitally.

The screamer idea depends too much on the audience knowing what the hell a screamer does.
From Laramie, WY
Joined Mar 12, 2002
872 points
Sep 19, 2012
Good idea Dale, I have a few comments:

1 - you'd need a good visual angle of the screamer, which may be easier to rig up on the dangler? You could climb easily above the piece, back it up significantly, and huck off into space. Not to mention it is easy to shoot - just set up on GT with a good zoom and have at it. Definitely wait for afternoon light.

2 - as for shooting, the idea is to show the screamer ripping in action, which may be hard to catch. Even with a fast camera (10 frames per second) you could still miss the money shot - I'd bring something pretty fast, set a shutter speed of 1000 or so and let it rip on the cam's motor drive.

3 - I would have your belayer give you a harder catch, this way the screamer activates.

4 - another idea is to go with a slower shutter, say a 10th of a sec or so, and have your photog pan with the fall, could be a cool way to show motion.
From The Gunks
Joined Dec 22, 2008
350 points
Sep 19, 2012
I understand the danger of setting up a lead fall and all, but that's a risk I'm going to take. And I'm only going to give it maybe two tries, I don't want to end up having to buy 10 screamers...

and the idea is that once it is explained (each photo entered is coupled with an explanation of what the photo illustrates) it would make sense.

the photogenic part being the backdrop of the gunks in the fall, and the physics part being the screamer and whipper.

those other ideas are totally cool too though, I'd love to do something interesting with chalk in the air and light. hmmmmm......


The pendulum fall could be very interesting! I would love to maybe run an slr on video, and then go back afterwards and take out the frame I like, overlay them, etc....


The Dangler would definitely be a good option aswell! I was trying to think of the biggest roof I knew I could climb with good gear, and modern times just seemed to make sense, but the dangler maybe be cooler because of the easy access and the ledge right there. Maybe set up a camera on video focused on the screamer, then another one of the entire scene, and then have someone taking photos at the same time? and yea I was planning on just throwing myself on a gri gri or a cinch or something to give me a good tug; something where no rope will feed through.

And I don't know much about photography, so didn't quite understand what you meant for #4.

but thanks all of you guys! great help.
Dale Storti
Joined May 28, 2012
65 points
Sep 19, 2012
Awesome, give it a try! I don't think you gonna be able to capture the screamer activation in the same frame as the climber from the GTL. Maybe have someone up top? Get rent two or three fast cameras and go nuts! divnamite
From New York, NY
Joined Aug 1, 2007
90 points
Sep 19, 2012
Sounds cool. Please post the finished product here? Please? Jon Zucco
From Denver, CO
Joined Aug 15, 2008
40 points
Sep 19, 2012
That would be an extremely difficult shot to get, even for an experienced photographer. You mentioned you don't know much about photography - what about your buddy that will be taking the picture? If you don't have an experienced photographer with a great camera, I doubt you'll get the shot you're hoping for, esp. with only two tries. Go for something simpler.

Also, keep in mind these are two very popular routes - maybe go on a weekday and try not to monopolize them for too long.

You could do something much simpler and still get the fall gunks scenery - how about an interesting anchor set-up? Or a 3-1 haul system? Something you could set up and then take your time getting a good looking shot.
Em Cos
From Boulder, CO
Joined Apr 21, 2010
0 points
Sep 19, 2012
Ditch the Screamer. If you've got the 'nads for it, take a 20-30 ft fall and grab at least 5 frames/sec. Get that photo software that puts all the images into one so we see you at incremental spots in the fall. Work that up a la F=mA and you've got a winner.

Bonus points for capturing the decelleration as well and calculate that force as well.
Joined Jul 29, 2009
1,850 points
Sep 19, 2012
Try setting up a nice 4:1 rescue system of pulleys, ascenders, prussiks and rope. Lots of stuff to explain and demo for physics. ( I used to set one up each year in my classes when I taught school). Oh, of course having a really smokin' hot chick for your victim couldn't hurt. Woodchuck ATC
Joined Nov 29, 2007
505 points

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