I enjoy experimenting with light and movement with photography. I studied animation which is a quintessentially time based medium but I found the process way too slow. It could take many weeks to make a few seconds of animation and quite frankly I never had the patience. What if I could make time all happen in one picture? It saves having to watch the whole thing from beginning to end. It’s easy with photography – Just hold the shutter open for a while and all the light that goes in records everything that happens. Except it’s a blur and no-one can’t see the details, unless it’s traffic at night with the streaky head and tail lights.
I discovered slit scan photography which is a process by which the film is gently wound as the shutter opens to expose a linear aperture spread across the film. This creates an abstract projection of time, or with a moving camera, a stretched out pictorial representation of a journey.
Photographs of the the finish line of horse races have been photographed this way to prove the winner – this is one of the reasons it was developed. I don’t have a slit scan camera but I do have video and Adobe AfterEffects. This is a great for taking a single slice out of each frame of the movie and stacking them together. So it’s like stacking each frame of the video like a great big cake and slicing through it to reveal all the delicious timiness of it all, which turns fair ground rides into something out of an alien sweet shop and people and traffic into woven ribbons and knotted laces. Interesting things are revealed such as everything pointing in the same direction regardless of which spatial direction they are going in; and casual movements become disembodied gravity defying hovermorphs.
There are other ways of making slit scans – a laser can slice through time really easily in full time resolution. There are natural slit scan cameras in the form of doorway and cracks in fences. If you are wanting to see through a crack in a fence – the best way to build a picture of what is behind the fence is to swing your head from side to side and the image will form as if by magic. This is a fun way of taking photographs if you don’t mind people asking you what you are doing.
In fact I’ve noticed with long exposure photography with a moving camera things like trees trunks and beams make natural slits which create interesting slit scan like effects – so the process has gone full circle…
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