An animation of 4 aerial photographs of school kids standing in interesting shapes: bicycle, worm, cupcake and butterfly.
An animation of 4 aerial photographs of school kids standing in interesting shapes: bicycle, worm, cupcake and butterfly.

Bicycle-shaped Kids

I had no idea it was going to be this cool. From the ground, it looked like organized chaos.

Principal Gennerman

This is quite probably the best photograph that I ever took, which after taking pictures of world wonders, like the Sphinx and the Parthenon, means a lot.

Pictured here are the 507 illustrators of Falling Uphill at Poplar Creek Elementary School plus the staff. It took me an hour (plus planning) to illustrate the chalk outline of the bicycle (see below). I used a string and two bricks to help guide me. Luckily arranging the kids was no problem thanks to the principal and teachers. However, I still had to overcome some challenges like the partly cloudy sun and shadows. The kids constantly jumping up and down. Not falling off the roof while I took the picture, not too mention the change in perspective. Once on the roof, I realized I had to move the seat up 8 feet. I found that funny because when I was riding my real bike, I could tell if my seat was off by only 5 millimeters. And, surprisingly the image was too big for my camera, so not only did I have to tile the picture, but now I had to deal with the lens distortion and vignetting. Lastly, in the final composite, besides normal retouching, such as color correction and erasing the odd marks, I also deleted the cars in the parking lot. If only I could erase the cars in real life 🙂

I’m still surprised this turned out so well. Thanks again to the students, staff and parents of Poplar Creek Elementary for helping to arrange this, especially Associate Principal Larry Lueck for the brilliant idea for this photo, Principal Jane Gennerman for her support and arranging the kids from small to big (falling uphill) along with Kate Krzysik and for her idea of having the kids illustrate the book.

Bicycle shaped kids school photo chalk outline
Bicycle shaped kids school photo chalk outline
Looking down at kids being guided into position on top of the chalk outline of a bicycle. It looks helter-skelter.
The students at Poplar Creek Elementary begin to line up on the chalk outline of a bicycle. Photo by Scott. He’s standing on the roof of the gymnasium with the custodian. This was one of the highlights of Scott’s life.

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