A Simple Slice of Time

By PF Staff in Influential Photo Gear on Jan 15, 2013

"For me the noise of time is not sad: I love bells, clocks, watches - and I recall that at first photographic implements were related to techniques of cabinetmaking and the machinery of precision: cameras, in short, were clocks for seeing, (...)" - Barthes, R. Camera Lucida, 15

I made a list prioritizing the top five things that have had the greatest positive impact on my photography. They are:

  • Buying a good DSLR
  • Learning what an f/stop is
  • Making my tripod an indispensable bodily prosthetic
  • Aperture 3 for post processing

And, at the top of the list ahead of all other positive impacts...

  • Time

Now, I know many of you may be shaking your heads saying wait, this is askew of the competition's question. But I would argue that time is the instrument of photography in that it is the foundation of meaning; the photograph is born of a simple slice of time, after which the image is narrated by the viewer, time and time again. Besides, I wanted the challenge of blogging about something beyond the ever changing technologies of the trade. I wanted to challenge myself to really think about the fundamental essence of positive impact upon the art of photography.

A Slice of Time
 technology, longevity, narrative
Portrait of Billy the Kid taken somewhere between 1879 - 1880 sold for 2.3 million dollars November 2012 Tintypes were an early form of photography that used metal plates. They are reverse images, and the Billy the Kid tintype led to the mistaken belief that the Kid was a lefty. The myth inspired the 1958 movie The Left Handed Gun, starring Paul Newman as Billy.

I live a simple life in a 'wannabe' nature photographer’s paradise; chopping wood, carrying water, gathering food, prepping for the isolation of winter in Ontario's wild north. Time is literally of the essence and this has been instrumental to the progress I have made as a photographer. Nary a day goes by that I don’t take my camera out for a walk.  I shoot in rain, snow, wind, mid-day summer sun, at dawn, dusk and night. I use a range of lenses and practice every kind of technique and setting I read about or dream up. I shoot whether I am depressed or motivated, tired or inspired. And if I compare my photos of today with the photos I took even just one year ago, I am blown away by how much better a photographer I have become.

It is hard to show examples on this scale, but here are photos of similar subjects taken approximately a year apart.

July 2011
September 2012
June 2011
April 2012
June 2011
July 2012


Time has had positive impact on my photography. It is an instrument for improvement, a thing every photographer can take advantage of, even those busy with school, careers or family.

Seize the moment between the tick and the tock: While at a standstill in traffic; during the elevator ride; from a window seat 30,000 feet in the air; or on the rooftop of your office building during lunch. Create abstract art within the fabric of your cubical, office, or taxi. Pull over to photograph an old barn at dawn, a canola field in bloom, or a condominium construction zone in the heart of the city. Practice low light photography moments after the children have fallen asleep, or fast shutter speeds during their soccer games. Snap a few birds at the feeder as you sip your morning coffee.

Instead of a magazine take the camera into the bathroom with you and find something to shoot while sitting there!

In the words of Laozi,

"Time is a created thing. To say 'I don't have time,' is like saying, 'I don't want to.' - (Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching)"

- tessfully




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