Time Travelling With Camera Electronic

on February 04, 2016

The same incautious staff member who speculated about Johnny Cash and the ducks also raised a thought about time travel. He was specifically thinking of time lapse movies, which are becoming increasingly popular these days, but there is no reason stop temporal speculation there - our shop can speed time up, slow time down, repeat it, or excise it. We can go forward, backward, and possibly up, down, and sideways.

In fact, if the general premise of Dr. Who's Tardis is that of an unimposing structure crammed with more space and more equipment inside, I think that could be said to exactly describe 230 Stirling Street.

I shall gloss over who the Weeping Angels, Daleks, and other entertaining staff members and concentrate on the time itself.

Speeding it up: This is the province of the time lapse. The camera sits there and shoots a series of pictures at designated intervals - generally over a pretty long period of time. If something that the cameras has been watching over this time has experienced a set of gradual changes, projecting the subsequent series of pictures back like a video will show that action unfolding in fast action. We've all seen the Disney pics of flowers unfolding or deserts blooming. The technique can be applied to looking at starry skies, scudding clouds, or rush hour crowds.

It works in nearly every case - the only known failure of this sort of filming was the series of pictures they took at 100-year intervals of Keith Richards. When they projected them later they could see mountain ranges heaving up and down in geological eras and continents alternately appearing and disappearing under sheets of ice but Mr. Richards' face never changed...

Slowing it down: Well, if you take a picture at 16 frames per second and project it at 16 frames per second it looks like normal speed. If you take it at 60 frames per second and project it at 16 frames per second everything looks like it has slowed down. This is used to study golf swings, nuclear explosions, and some scientific phenomena - indeed, a short sequence taken with a Hulcher camera on 16mm film in the 1950's shows Zsa Zsa Gabor while she was married. It is held in the Library of Congress under argon gas.

Modern video cameras and a lot of the zippier mirror-less models can do this to perfection. Action cams are the champs in this at present and as they are likely to be put in harm's way their footage is always entertaining.

Repeating Time. Take a picture that was shot on Kodachrome A movie film in 8mm in 1948. Project it in 2016. Same colours, same scene, same people. And 33 years after your father died he is alive again for 3 1/2 minutes. Beat that Hollywood.

Cutting out time. Get a picture of yourself that was taken 40 years ago. See what clothes you were wearing in the picture. Go to your clothes closet and take those clothes out and put 'em on - or go to the Good Sammy's and get another set. Take a selfie. Put them side by side and the bit in the middle between the two images is what 40 years looks like. Thin, isn't it?