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LACMA’s giant rock’s 105-mile journey

Watching a rock move is an interesting pastime. Especially a 340-ton rock.

This boulder is part of an art project called “Levitated Mass” by artist Michael Heizer that will be on display at Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) sometime in the spring or summer.

At first, it sounded easy to shoot since it traveled at 5 to 8 mph along a designated road for 105 miles over the course of 11 nights. But the challenges quickly popped up on the first night. Just outside the quarry, where the rock was to begin its journey, I severely cut my finger. I was fortunate enough to be patched up by the fire department, which was there to see the rock off, but my right hand was out of commission for the night. This made things more complicated because I was carrying two tripods and two cameras, a Sony Z7U and a Canon EOS 7D.

Once the rock started moving, it became apparent that showing size-relation was going to be difficult. I’d find a good spot to set up with plenty of time to compose the shot and adjust all the camera settings. But once the rock and transporter arrived and rolled through the frame, I discovered that they were completely cut off at the top or the bottom and definitely the sides. It’s hard to judge composition without the subject, even harder with a subject of uncommon size as this. This occurred a few more times, unfortunately.

Another challenge was finding locations that would provide an interesting backdrop. Since the subject was the same throughout and all movement of the rock occurred at night, location and camera angle were the only tools I had to bring some variation to the scenes. This became redundant almost immediately.

Seeing the rock turn corners made for some exciting shots. When it got close to some of the buildings, it was as though the iceberg were looking for the Titanic. But the 260-foot rig and the boulder never struck a thing.

As I watched this rock move, I was never bored by it or its slow progress. I became more and more amazed by the ingenuity it took to move it. It was a bit inspiring. So by the end, I had a whole new appreciation for this megalith and its journey.

READ: Giant rock ends its journey to LACMA

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