Layers of Light and Time Captured on Single Frames Using a 4×5 Camera

London-based photographer Tony Ellwood has a project called In No Time that deals with our perception and awareness of our passage of time. All the photographs are of the same pier on a beach that Ellwood visited over a period of six months. His technique, which took him 18 months to develop and perfect, involves visiting the location multiple times for each photo — sometimes up to three times a day for multiple days. Using a 4×5 large format camera, Ellwood creates each exposure across multiple sessions, as if he were doing multiple exposure photography, but of a single subject and scene. Each exposure time ranges from a few seconds to multiple hours.

What results from the technique are colorful, surreal photographs that look like paintings. They have smoothed appearances due to the different times, lights, and tides that are captured in a single frame.

Ellwood writes,

Each picture is therefore an amalgam of realities, each layer blending with the other to form the final image. The location used within the work, is a place he visits to think, for inspiration or to escape the world for a while. In No Time is a reference to the phrase “In no time at all”.

Here are a couple more photos from the series:

A thumbnail view of the project shows how diverse the look and feel of the images are, even though they were shot from the exact same location:

Here’s a short two-minute-long video in which Ellwood discusses his work:

Head on over to Ellwood’s website to see more of these images.

In No Time by Tony Ellwood (via ISO 1200)

Image credits: Photographs by Tony Ellwood

  • Samcornwell

    Tony should know that the majority of space photographs, both amateur and professional use this technique of layering hundreds of frames to one image.

    His photographs really are lovely, anyway.

  • NDT

    Truly beautiful work by Tony. Noticing this subtle nuance of light, space and colour is quintessential to appreciating photography as art.

  • mike

    The thumbs look like a bunch of instagram pics, lovely pics, just missing the boarders, just saying… I think the full effect would only be seen in a gallary with massive images of the size given to Monet’s waterlily paintings.

  • loser

    Wow, I could have done that in photochop in about 5 minutes. What a waste of time…

  • sum_it

    it wouldn’t have the same value or meaning.

  • Neoracer Xox

    uhm yea..not really, kinda boring. OH THE HUMANITY *CRYS*

  • Neoracer Xox

    I agree, if he wants to waste hundreds of hours doing this for ‘real’ so be it..for the rest of us with lives I’d rather photoshop it.

  • trialex

    I’m more interested in the technical details of how he got such good alignment, assuming he had to move his camera for each “visit”.

  • Joakim

    I wonder what film he uses to deal with resiprocity error

  • dll

    Yeah, right. Art is a giant waste of time ;-)

  • Elliot

    Your name says it all.

  • Nick

    Artistic photography, I like. It’s nice to see someone doing landscapes without immediately shooting it on the widest focal length and looking for foreground interest.

  • will

    Although it’s not clear from the article, in the video he says he is exposing a single frame multiple times, rather than layering multiple frames. What’s interesting though is that he comes back to expose the photos at different times of the day, rather than using a fixed interval, that’s what creates such a nice effect.

  • Samcornwell

    That’s how I understood it to be. Layering on to film requires a very different process to digital but the same result is achieved.

  • Samcornwell

    I can’t imagine he moved his camera during each complete photograph. Each visit meant starting with a fresh sheet of 5×4″.

  • ceebee

    Highly fabricated photographs, though. Photography is lost in the making. I’m sick to see these types of digital alterations. Really.

  • ct

    Digital? You don’t know what a 4×5 camera is, do you?

  • junyo

    Is it “art” just because it was labor intensive? If so, then the story makes it a piece of creative writing/performance art, with the photograph as a byproduct. If an indistinguishable output could’ve been produced via a faster method, then the output might be art, but the chosen method was in fact a waste of time.

  • Nikon>Canon


  • derekdj

    Some more technical details would be great, I think the description might be a bit misleading. It probably took him over 6 months to complete the project, but from the video it seems like he’s shooting a single piece of film for that day, dividing the exposure across the course of a single day as Samcornwell mentioned, a technic that has been done before. I’m pretty sure if consulted a good mathematician with the light readings from the various times of day he could’ve gotten the proper exposure settings in less than 18 months.

    Beautiful images none the less.

  • trialex

    From the post: “His technique, which took him 18 months to develop and perfect, involves
    visiting the location multiple times for each photo — sometimes up to
    three times a day for multiple days.” So it says multiple days for some images. Even for single day exposures, assuming he doesn’t stand there for 12 hours, either he has some way of securing his camera in place where it won’t get stolen/damaged (maybe there is a building on the pier?) or he can come back and fix the camera in the same place.

  • davesmith

    This nig done well.

    really proud of this dude.

  • tom

    Beautiful…yes…surreal…for sure…I am not certain of needing many multiple exposures…some very inchanting images however…

  • Jason

    I suppose he’d rather waste his time on his photography instead of finely crafting comments to posts.

  • StronglyNeutral

    This work is beautiful. I actually really love the grid layout on this page (or matrix) of multiple images side by side. Don’t know if he displays them this way or if that was the choice of the author of the article. Either way, good work!