A Camera That Photographs Time Instead of Space

A Camera That Photographs Time Instead of Space

Artist Jay Mark Johnson has taken full advantage of slit scan photography, turning out some striking works of art that emphasizes time over space. These shots aren't Photoshopped, movements are captured moment to moment while static subjects stretch out into lines where the width of an object corresponds not to distance or size, but the rate of movement.

Artist Jay Mark Johnson produces photographic images that challenge the norms of perception. Throughout his career, in work spanning the disciplines of drawing and painting, filmmaking, performance, architecture, and photography, he has made visible the intersection of human nature and society.

via [Slate]

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Tobias Solem's picture

Well, I have to say that I prefer realism to this.

Justin Alt's picture

I wish I were smart enough to comprehend what is happening here.  I read the description three times and still don't get it.

I'm guessing he used the same device/principles as a photo-finish camera. look up how that works and you might understand this

it's a simple enough concept, but, not very easy to explain.. i'll give it my best shot:
imagine a square sensor [i assume you're familiar with digital camera sensors; if not, google it] - lets say, 10 x 10 pixels, to keep it simple.
now, normally, when a picture is taken, the whole sensor [all 100 pixels] is exposed to light and each pixel block will record the color and intensity as corresponding digital data.
In this technique, however, the sensor is NOT exposed as a whole. Instead, a single row/column of 10 pixels is exposed first, then the next row/column, and so on in a 'slit-progressive' manner..
so, it's like taking 10 photographs of 10x1 pixels and sticking them together.

hope this helps.. :)

Tam Nguyen's picture

Am I the only who read the description like 5 times and still didn't understand it?

To me it looks like a BROKEN CAMERA.. LOL

you can do almost this same effect. with your iphone...if you have the NEW panoramic feature in your iphone. but using it at such a slow rate your subject can keep up (if moving) or using it out your car window while driving.

Think of a package at UPS going down a line, and it passes under a camera. The camera scans in the label in a slit line, but since the package goes under the camera, the whole label gets scanned in over time. Each line section added together forms the final whole image. The conveyor belt below it does not get scanned in since it is not moving. 

Adam Magyar is also another line scan artist

I think it's a great abstract use of digital photography. Some really focused work here. Sometimes realism or regional photography is difficult to display as art, but I feel like the abstract nature of these leaves a lot of simplicity and imagination to each piece.

A how to tutorial would be a nice addition to this post. 

would really love to see a tutorial on how to capture this on camera...there are many tutorials out there that show how to do this in photoshop but couldn't find anything that showed how to capture this on a modern day dslr..

RUSS's picture

certainly is different from what we normally see. :-)

Jens Marklund's picture

Love it.

Easiest way to understand how the image is formed is to think of it as stripping out a single line of pixels at the same location of each frame in a video. In fact, that is how I create streak images with any camera capable of video - just involves a bit of programming.

Slit Scan for beginners.

I wanted to explain this with a video and youtube is your friend.
Turns out theres a free iphone app for this:

developers page: http://funnerlabs.com/apps/slitscan

not used them before.
Hope this was useful !


I wonder if it might be possible to use Photoshop CS6 to simulate a fixed slit camera given video as input?

Don't really know what I'm looking at, but I love it all the same.