I have a photography project based around 'time'. I'm struggling to find ideas on how to capture this with the specific detail that has to be involved. My image has to have memorabilia within the image to show time as in the past, but I also have to work with shutter speeds and different lighting. Any ideas on how to capture this image to make it interesting would be greatly appreciated.

  • For the item, a toy or such a thing that is no longer in production but was popular back in the days. Something that is easily recognisable as a relic from old. Or a lone adult looking at a framed portrait photograph, is usually understood as a sign of someone missing, most likely dead, being missed still. – Esa Paulasto Oct 13 '13 at 17:01
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    Maybe an old clock with motion blur on the hands. This could take a long time, though. – Evan Pak Oct 13 '13 at 22:39

This sounds like a homework project, where a tutor would set a broad theme and want to see your ideas and how they develop. So I'm going to avoid giving you direct ideas because it's meant to be your work not ours! Generally if you want to explore a concept and are stuck then breaking down your creative process a bit will help. Here are a few ideas I might use...

  • Brainstorm out what the concept of time means to you, literally write 'TIME' in the middle of a bit of paper; explore the objects and concepts as they come to you, think about what you can do with time.

  • Find art of any form (music, film, photo's, paintings etc.) that represent or includes time and just literally steal their concept and add something of your own expression to the idea.

  • Grab a pencil and draw a picture of what you think your photograph may look like.

  • Go to a flea market (or ebay) and pick up a job lot of old watches (shouldn't cost much) let their colours and shapes guide you visually and forget the concept entirely.

Those would get you started, once you start having ideas then you can bin the ones that don't meet the criteria for the project...

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This is a pain to set up, but it does produce a nice time-shifted effect... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slit-scan_photography


I think you could do this "vertically" and if you could find a nice old statue or something, go out before sunset and capture lines going up - with the ground in daylight, and the top of the picture would be the dark of night with stars. Or the other way...

Personally I like stuff like this - these two clearly modern people playing this extremely old game...

Balloon pop game

That doesn't show the passage of time, but I don't know if that's really the assignment or not - the description is a little vague. Time is important in almost everything, so a request to 'show time' is a little tricky. I think the strip method is more interesting than straight up photos though, and would show the passage of time if done right. Regular time exposures don't seem to be what the instructor wants.

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  • I see the passage of time in your photo. The gently smiling man sitting there is the everlasting figure of shopkeeper who has seen thousands of customers come to play this game. And the boy is the present time, totally in this moment, like 'I'm here right now'. – Esa Paulasto Oct 14 '13 at 19:52
  • Lol, thanks. That gently smiling man creeped me out major big time, but that's kind of why I took his picture :) – Jasmine Oct 14 '13 at 20:45

Take an old wind-up toy that is obviously from the past. Wind it up and let it move through your camera's field of view. Use fairly subdued ambient lighting or a narrow aperture to make it appear to be fairly dim. Set your flash level to be significantly more powerful than the ambient. Mount the camera on a tripod and use a remote release. Set a fairly slow shutter speed and use second curtain sync so that the blur of the moving toy created by the ambient light becomes a trail for the brighter image of the toy frozen by the flash. Experiment with the toy's motion moving perpendicular to the camera or towards or away from the camera at about a 30-45° angle. You can even shoot it with the camera elevated at an angle above the level of the surface the toy is moving across. Be sure to focus on the point the toy will be when the flash pops just before the end of the exposure.

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