Jim McNabney

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Luck of the Irish — Well, American Photogs

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

These pre-digital pictures were rare because they were manually synchronized. At the time we figured the odds of this occuring were a billion-to-one.

"Space Age Football"   © 1970 Paul F. Moloney

"Space Age Football" © 1970 Paul F. Moloney

 ”Space Age Football” was made in 1970 with fellow Greeley, Colo., Tribune photographer Wiley Smith across the field from me with a medium format camera equipped with an electronic flash. I photographed existing light with a 35 mm camera.

Smith triggered his camera a millesecond ahead of me and created a virtually unexposed area between the action and Smith on my film. The circle of confusion, upper right, was exposed to my film.

A circle of confusion is a circular spot on a film, resulting from the degree to which a pencil of light reflected from the field of view is focused in front of or behind the film, or from aberration of the lens, or from both.

In 1964 Jim McNabney photographed with a camera equipped with electronic flash, and I shot existing light with my 35 mm. This time the synchronization was perfect creating three circles of confusion coming off the ball at a Colorado State High School basketball tournament game at Denver.

It’s been 39 years since the unique football picture, and I’ve not reached a billion pictures. The likelihood of these unique photographs unknowingly occurring again is nil with digital photography becoming the tool of the 21st century. But a pair of photographers may get a surprise like McNabney, Smith and Moloney?

"Space Age Basketball"   © 1964 By Paul F. Moloney

"Space Age Basketball" © 1964 By Paul F. Moloney