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Haka Pei Rescue Ballet • A 14 Image Sequence

Aug 9, 2021

This series is a work in progress for the book. I’m considering a four page spread with three shots shown rather large and the rest small. This has taken the better part of a week to put together. In 2008 I was shooting Haka Pei runs and wound up capturing an accident – one where, thankfully, no one was actually hurt. The main sequence of 11 shots takes in only 12 seconds, with the first a couple of seconds earlier and the two after-shots occurring thirty seconds later and then one minute after that.

While the final two images were closer to me, the rest took place much farther up the hill and, even with my 400mm lens, were very small in the frame. I had to interpolate the crap out of them, cropping down to a very small part of the original exposure. Combine that with the fact that things were moving very fast, and that I was panning to keep with the action, I’m really only winding up with something of an interesting sequence. There was a lot of holding of breath, with relief and cheers at the end. I added a little vignetting to the final images to accentuate the fact that the whole thing is a long zoom lens focusing in on centered action.

Haka Pei is a dangeroud sport – speeds reaching 50mph. Participants have been seriously injured – an ambulance waits at the bottom of the hill. The sled is heavy, very heavy, made from two banana tree trunks tied together with hand and foot-holds hammered into them. There is one disturbing, difficult to watch video on YouTube where things did not end this well.

The opening image is actually the next to last in the sequence – a sort of rescue ballet that resulted from everyone rushing to the side of the acccident victim, getting him back on his sled and rushing him the rest of the way down the very steep hill (less than 30 seconds after the sequence). Below the rest are arranged in order. Beginning with the second image and finishing with #12 exposures were about one second apart.

The view at the top of the hill, followed a few seconds later by six set one secod apart – he was moving fast:

The moment things went really wrong:

Four exposures of the scary part:

To applause and cheers he weakly waves that he’s ok:

In the last shot, about a minute after the “rescue” image, they are gathered around at the bottom of the hill, obviously very relieved:

These have been added to the Folio, HERE on page 12, in the most efficient way I can think of – a hexaptych (the first six in the sequence), followed by a single image, a tetraptych (four images) and the final two as single images. They are a little larger, on darker background and are downloadable.