Unless you’re shooting really really long exposures, a photograph captures just the tiniest slice of time. Timelapse can help to speed up time and show us great durations in just a few minutes.
For fine art photographer Stephen Wilkes, shooting hundreds of photographs over the course of up to 30 hours at a time perched in a cherry picker and compositing elements from different frames together in post over several months is how he created each of these day to night sequences that show a full day in a single image.
One might initially assume that he simply setup a camera, and left it shooting every few seconds for the whole day and night, but you’d be wrong. Stephen sat by the camera the whole time and each element was manually photographed as he saw things that caught his eye.
Picking and choosing from different times throughout the day results in some beautiful and interesting images.
The project began in 2009,and was recently extended to include America’s National Parks in celebration of their centennial anniversary. It’s an interesting look in “a day in the life” of a location.
Seeing how things change between day and night. The colours, the movements of the people and the vehicles, the clothes being worn, the late night office parties.
I saw a video of Stephen’s a couple of years ago, during one such shoot at Bethesda Fountain in Central Park, NY, but it doesn’t appear to be online any more (if anybody has seen this and knows of a link to where it’s still online, please put it in the comments).
In it, he spoke about preparing for the day ahead, the equipment he uses, his process throughout the day, shot from his special vantage point above the scene before him, as well as some of the post processing that goes into the images.
One thing he mentions in the TED talk, which he also mentioned in this video are the patterns you spot throughout the day. In the TED talk, it was about the number of people he saw shooting selfies at one particular location, and themed his whole image around that.
In the Bethesda Fountain shoot, one thing that stuck out to him were the number of newly married couples he saw being photographed on the ground. Only a handful of couples seem to have made it into the final image, but he recounted about 20 or so couples on the day.
It’s a fascinating way to record time, and something I really wish I had the patience to try myself. Maybe, one day.
Have you done a day to night image like these? Has it inspired you to go out and try one? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.