Digital cameras have a virtual motor drive that shoots either three frames per second or one and a half frames per second, allowing one to shoot sequences. If this is done off tripod, the only difference will be anything that moves - obviously.

The idea goes back to the pioneer work of Harold Edgerton who shot with early strobes in the late 1920s for motion analysis. However, the Stroboscope required a dark studio and very powerful, rapidly firing strobes. One must also acknowledge the work of Eadweard Muybridge who used multiple cameras back in the 1880s.

The technique illustrated below uses a single digital camera and layer masks in Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro. By layering one image above the other one step apart, one can erase a bit of the image to show the the person or car from the previous image. Those two images are merged and then next image is added, and again a little spot is erased to add yet another image. So in a single still image, you end up with an image that incorporates time as an element.

Once the mask is added to the layer, one can "paint" with transparency using black, and opacity using white. This allows one to overpaint and then back up until the blend line is exactly where one wants it. A very fun technique.

NOTE: With Photoshop CS3, things got a lot easier.There is a script that will load the images as layers and auto-align them. This speeds up the process greatly.

"The Autumn Soccer Classic Intersected By a Procession of Adults"

"Three Bikes And A Biker"

Three Bikes And A Biker

"Man With Cell Phone And Pool Cue Crossing The Street"

Man With Cell Phone And Pool Cue Crossing The Street

"Man And Boy Crossing The Intersection With Boy Wiping Out After Attempting A Super-Hero Leap"

Man And Boy Crossing The Intersection With Boy Wiping Out After Attempting A Superhero Leap

"Very Exciting Football Game Between the Grey Cap Clones and the Orange Cap Clones"

Grey Cap Clones vs Orange Cap Clones

"Person in red shirt wiping out in front of the whole world"

Wipeout white

"Person in white shirt wiping out in front of the whole world"

Wipeout White

"Alberta Ritual"

As the buds form on the trees, old men in Alberta perform a sad ritual, "The Last Wearing of the Parka". A long final walk is taken in the beloved garment that has provided coziness and warmth through the long dismal prairie winter. During the walk, good times are remembered, the day the waiter in the beer parlour dumped a whole tray of draught on it, the days of shoveling snow, the long hike to the curling rink. Upon arriving home it is hung up with the words, "Well Ma, don't think I'm gonna need this for a few months now..." After the tenth season, it is lovingly taken to the dry cleaners, but it is never quite the same again.

"A Young Man Walking Very Expressively"

"A Young Woman Making Wardrobe Adjustments While Underway"

"The Procession"

Unlike the previous images which were shot from my balcony, this one was shot while waiting for a bus in downtown Edmonton. It was also handheld for the whole duration, resting on my knee. Each image was a few pixels out from the preceding shot. By layering and setting the layer mode to "Difference" it was very simple to see and register the image where the next person would emerge, using the cursor keys to nudge the layer. It only has to be in register at that specific spot. Once in registration, return to "Normal" and reveal the image on the background layer. See also "Stately Man In Black" below.

Since these images were created, Photoshop has added new features that make alignment both more accurate and much easier.

"Stately Man In Black"

"Two Casually Dressed, but Distinguished Gentlemen, Discussing Important Stuff"

"A Lively Afternoon Below My Apartment"

I was trying the interval timer in my camera to make a stop-motion movie of the rather dramatic clouds, with the timer set to one minute intervals. It did a lovely job with the clouds, but also caught the activity on the street during this time. Here is is, condensed into one shot. The same technique was used below.

"Summer - My Corner"

"An Even Busier Afternoon on my Street"

"The Great Watergun War"

"The Magnificent Street-Plumbing Project"

"Very Intense Gathering Where Stuff Had To Be Decided"

"The Little Urban Park Across the Street Blossoms with Kids"

"Flight Path"

"Cycling Among Corvids"

"An Epic Competition Between the Black Team and the White Team for A Prize of French Fries"

"March to the Pub"

"A Twilight BBQ in the Little Urban Park Across the Street"

"Making Bubbles in the Springtime of 2010"

©2002-2010 Larry N. Bolch