(June 18-22, 2009)

The World Wide Panorama

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Theme Essay: Time

The essay conveys the team’s idea of the event. It is usually published together with the Theme announcement and offers a starting point for the contributing photographers.

About the theme - Time

by Keith Martin

The theme for the June WWP event is Time.

We can't see, touch or taste it, but Time affects us all.

We have many phrases to describe the passage of time and its effects, including "the ravages of time", "time flies" (whether straight like an arrow or curved like a banana), "time waits for no man", and "time takes its toll". Many of these phrases are used as warnings to watch out and keep track of time, as "running out of time" is a common experience for us all.

We speak of time running at different speeds, subjectively at least; when we're enjoying something it flies past, but when we're doing something deathly dull it crawls. Einstein found that time really does run at different speeds in an objective sense too, as set out in his theory of relativity - although this doesn't explain why waiting for a kettle to boil always seems to double the time it takes.

Whether we regard something as maturing or degenerating, we are describing the effects of the passage of time. Time is evident in new growth woods and ancient forests, in natural erosion and weathered storm pilings, and in the dynamism of small children as well as the quiet of the elderly. It is shown in the accumulation of dust in quiet corners and in the rush-hour crowds of commuters seen every weekday in cities around the world.

We live our lives by timetables (or schedules, however you choose to pronounce the word). We use alarms to wake us up (although in my case I never actually hear the alarm), we know when we have to leave the house in order to get somewhere by a certain time, and we try to get to bed by a certain time as well. We speak of good or bad timing, free time, time alone, 'me' time, time for change - yet, despite how vital time is to us all in every part of our lives, we cannot actually affect time in any way; it marches on.

Showing time in some way, capturing its effects or essence in pictures, can be a challenge, but it offers tremendous creative and aesthetic possibilities. Time-lapse photography, very slow shutter speeds and other ways of using time to affect the picture-taking process itself are as valid as concentrating on recording aspects of time within the subject.

How will you convey time in a panorama?


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