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Catching the Intangibility of Time

by Editor Lourens Durand
Edited and published by Yvette Depaepe, the 4th of March 2022


Time does not stand still. We cannot photograph time itself, only moments of it.
It is not an object, but a concept – we cannot touch it or see it, except for its effects.


'Through Time.' by Silvia Simonato


Einstein maintained that time is relative to the observer’s frame of reference. For example, clocks on orbiting satellites tick infinitesimally more slowly than stationary ones, with the effect being more pronounced as the moving clocks approach the speed of light.
What happens then? Do the fast-moving clocks turn into light themselves, or does time start going backwards? Impossible, they say. But who knows?

Be that as it may, as photographers we understand that time implies movement and that movement implies the passage of time. So, we can reflect this passage of time as implied movement, using slow shutter speeds, intentional camera movement, multiple exposures or a combination of fast and slow shutter speeds. The illusion of movement and passage of time can also be achieved by the judicious use of the tools of composition: using diagonals, directional lines, gestures, moods, repetition or by careful positioning and size of elements to encourage the viewer’s eyes to move through the picture.


Clever choice of props can also help to recreate the effects of time.

Common devices and symbols are:

* Skulls representing death and the ultimate passage of time
* Wilting flowers
* Clocks, watches, sundials and hourglasses
* Sunsets depict the passing of the day, and sunrises herald new days
* Candles with smoke
* Vintage ornaments, musical instruments and costumes
* Wrinkled skin
* The Devil and Father Time
* Sepia effects


As in all other kinds of photography it is important that the photographer sees and recognises the moment that the picture is right – THE moment – and takes the shot at that time. People may say that you got a lucky shot, but there is no luck involved. It is a matter of perseverance and knowing when to shoot and when to stop. It’s all a matter of timing.

Here is a collection of fine images composed by photographers illustrating the theme of time. Enjoy!

Lourens Durand


'Midnight Story' by Alfredo Yañez



'too late' by Hilde Ghesquiere



'Time Walk' by Andre du Plessis FRPS



'Noir' by Cyrill Theodoroff



'Men' by Petri Damstén



'The weight of time' by Julie de Waroquier



'Lancaster Bomber' by John Madden AFIAP AIPF



'time travel' by Sebastian Luczywo



'ok, lets go' by Carmine Chiriacò



'Tempus fugit' by Stephen Clough



'Meditation. Out of time and fuss' by Victoria Ivanova



'Like the Wind ….' by Angela Muliani Hartojo



'Speed' by Antonyus Bunjamin (Abe)



'Little-Jumbo' by Harri Aho



'Ballerina Story' by Martha Suherman



'Above the water' by Rob Li



'Saint Jerome' by mario lotzin / uwe friessner



'The Lesson' by Peter Kemp



n/t by David Minster



'The Spy Who Loved Him' by Richard Bland



'The Lamp Keeper' by Daniel Springgay



'Casablanca bound' by robin-bird



'The Goodbye Kiss' by Daniel Springgay



'Neediness' by Saeed Dhahi



'Facing Fear' by Ben Spurgeon



'Vintage Rebel' by JP Palmunen



'Looking in the candle light' by Colin Dixon



'Long LOVE' by sarawut intarob



'Grandfather's Lap' by Avishek Das


Wordless Silence ... A wonderful and enchanting visual sharp contrast with the rugged and inhuman devastation ... Top edition...
Incredible work
Great job, very good selection
Beautiful article and pictures . WOW
Thanks Saskia
Wonderful, amazing images, bravo!
Thank you.
Great selection of images to illustrate this interesting subject. Regarding the symbols and devices for suggesting the passage of time or the suspended moment in time, mirrors and reflective surfaces have always seemed appropiate visual elements.
Thank you, Ludmilla
Highly enjoyable philosophical article on time as Albert Einstein said, "Time is an illusion". Wonderful, exciting diverse selection of images. Thanks so much Lourens and Yvette for producing such an excellent work.
Thanks you, Arnon !
Thanks Amon.
Excellent photos and article!
Many thanks, Ralf !
Thank you, Ralf.
Laurens I enjoyed reading you excellent article. You have selected interesting topic, the time. I still remember my student time when we discussed this subject quite often. In your list of devices or symbols I would add the "general flora", this is from my experience to see a garden of my father after 20 years (period I was in forced emigration), this was for me THE TIME. The photo selection is just fabulous. Congratulations to all authors. And many thanks for this lovely article Laurens and also thank you very much editing and publishing it dear Yvette.
Thank you, Miro ;-)
Thank you, Miro. Much appreciated!
Susi PRO
Preciosa selección de imágenes sobre el gran concepto que es “el tiempo” . Laurens e Yvette, muchas gracias por tan excelente artículo!!
Thanks a lot, Susi !
Grazias Susi
so beautiful and meaningful ! thank you Laurens and Yvette for this wonderful collection!
Our pleasure, Gaby ;-)
Thank you, Gabrielle!
Wonderful set of images thank you to Lourens and Yvette
Thank you, dear Colin!
Thank you Colin
Wonderful Collection of beautiful images lost in time and now found - thank you lourens and Yvette for your fine work..
Thanks for your appreciation, dear Daniel!
Thank you Daniel!