Unlike freeze-frame photography that captures a tiny cross-section of a moment, time-lapse, long exposure and motion blur photography shows a series of moments. They can be a few consecutive microseconds, moments spanning several years, or anywhere in between. Rather than an ultra-fast shutter speed, time-lapse and motion blur photography use a very slow shutter speed or multiple images to convey time and/or movement.
Motion blur photography often features one part of the picture in perfect focus while the moving parts are blurry. Mariano Kamp’s pictures of athletes on bikes in the Ironman Triathalon are great examples of how motion can be shown without obscuring the subject entirely.
Moving lights are a favorite subject of motion blur photographers. Brent and MariLynn’s pictures of carnival rides effectively capture the chaos and fun of the rapidly moving machines with their brightly colored lights.
Long exposures can make for extremely interesting photographs of scenes that we don’t often get to see. Kris Klop’s photos of planes taking off show beautiful light trails that seem to make a road in the sky.
The motion blur photography of Johan L demonstrates how a longer exposure can successfully show movement, even in a still photograph. According to the photographer, his goal was to capture the motion of dance in photographs – something that he obviously did very well.
Carl Rosendahl’s long exposure photographs show a slightly more magical side of ordinary objects. The motion trails from the moving dice and streams of light from a car-mounted camera bring a sense of motion to the still photos without introducing any visual clutter.
Light painting, or light graffiti, has been growing in popularity since that one fateful picture of Pablo Picasso started making the rounds among photographers. Today, the availability of good instructions and great equipment has made it possible for amateur photographers to get incredible results with this method. Painting with light in a photograph requires a long exposure time and quick movements of the light source to create ghostly shapes in the finished photo. Jacob Carter’s light painting photos show how much expression can be achieved with a light source and some willing friends.
Robokon GT has some particularly playful examples of long exposure light graffiti. His neighborhood-wide Pac-Man game and crazy colored monsters seem almost like cartoons come to life.
The light writing of Eran Hakim takes on some subjects you don’t often see in light photography: the secret world of your inanimate objects. His indoor light graffiti makes good use of his living space and the objects in it, interacting with the surroundings and nearby props.
When most of us think of time-lapse photography, we think of many consecutive images played together as a long string. That type of time-lapse photography allows us to see a long stretch of time in a compressed format. This time-lapse video from DigitalMaxz goes from LA to New York in just four minutes.
Rotting food is definitely one of the more popular subjects of time-lapse photography. The progression of an object from ripe and full of life to shriveled, moldy and dead is surprisingly fascinating to watch when the process is sped up. Time-lapse images are often made using video cameras to catch a second – or a fraction of a second – of the picture. Then a certain amount of time is allowed to elapse before the next image is recorded…effectively speeding up time.
The growth of living things is usually too slow for us to notice, but when time-lapse photography is used to show a gradual change at a speed that our brains can register, it’s a magical sight. These time-lapses of growing mushrooms give us a look at a part of the world that we usually don’t have time to notice.
And some things are just more entertaining in time-lapse. This video of a house being demolished after Hurricane Katrina, and a modular house being built in its place, makes the whole process look almost fun.