Many people who happen to currently experience the symptoms of Parkinson’s think of tremors as a problem and a nuisance. Recovery from Parkinson’s disease means that you have successfully eradicated the tremor or, at a minimum, numbed your neurological system so that the tremor does not exist.
There is an alternative mindset that some people have adopted to their great advantage. Professional photographer Alan Babbitt finds his tremor is a huge advantage. Instead of trying to still his hand when he takes pictures, Allan allow his camera to jiggle in whatever position his hands move. He has produced a remarkable series of pictures that he aptly describes as “”tremor enhanced” work that are incredible in every respect. I was so taken by his images that I contracted with Alan to use one of his images as the featured cover of my book Road to Recovery from Parkinsons Disease.
A second person with Parkinson’s who has used his tremor to great advantage is Whit Deschner. Whit is the founder of the Salt Lick contest in Baker City, Oregon which raises money for Parkinsons research every year. Whit was my featured guest on my radio show this week. How does author and humorist Whit Deschner uses his tremor to great advantage?
I have no doubt there are many answers to this question, given Whit’s off the chart creativity and innovativeness. Like Alan Babbitt, Whit has found his tremor to be of immense advantage in his own photography. Whit has always loved to take pictures, especially pictures of children as they are jumping. After experiencing the symptoms of Parkinson’s beginning 10 years ago, Whit found that when he began taking a picture of a child jumping his finger continued to snap the shot. Instead of one shot, he would invariably wind up with a long series of single shots taken with his still camera.
What do you do with a long series of single shots of the same scene? Choose the “best”? Or, use them all in a sequence of slide show like images. When you string together all of the pictures in sequence, it looks much like a movie of the scene such as a child jumping. ‘Talk about being creative!
There is a Youtube link below to a 9 minute video that tells the history of horses on Whit’s ranch. It is well worth taking 9 minutes of time in your busy day to watch this video. When you watch, pay particular attention to the many segments where you see evidence of Whit using all of the images from a still camera. Instead of seeing a still picture, you see a horse gracefully moving through a pasture or smiling back at you with a sweet grin on his face.
There is no mention of how Whit Deschner has used to advantage his tremor in this video, but I wanted you to know because I just learned how he did it today.
Some people think of tremors of a liability. Other people – like Whit and Alan – think of tremors as an asset which has led to remarkable discoveries and innovations. It is a choice for everyone.
Anyone else out there with a story they would like to share?
Robert Rodgers, Ph.D.
Road to Recovery from Parkinsons Disease