Journey through Temporal Explorations with Armand Dijcks


Here at Triggertrap we do love a bit of timelapse! It's a nifty little technique you can use to add movement to a set of still images, making time appear to speed up and show dramatic events like sunrises or plants growing in just a few seconds. We are always on the lookout for people pushing the boundaries of timelapse, and when we saw Temporal Explorations by Armand Dijcks for the first time, we had never seen anything like it. We just had to get in touch with him to find out how he created the video...

Tell us a little bit about yourself!

My name is Armand Dijcks, and I'm a photographer and cinematographer living in the beautiful city of Rotterdam, The Netherlands, together with my wife, Brit, and our cat Izzy. Photography and cinematography are not really two distinct things in my work. You could argue that a photograph captures only a single instant, whereas a film captures time as well. But what about a long exposure photo, or a timelapse where a number of stills are combined into a film? In my work I usually blend and morph photography and film in all sorts of unlikely ways.

How did you get into timelapse?

As a kid I was always experimenting with my dad's analog camera and his super 8mm film camera to create abstract images, stop motion films, and the like. It was a slow, cumbersome process, and I wouldn't see the results until after the film was developed. Because of that, I lost interest in the medium for a long time. When digital technology finally emerged, I could get immediate feedback, which is very important to me because I tend to slowly make my way to the final result through many iterations. And, of course, the internet now makes it possible to share your work with the whole world, which makes it a lot more rewarding.

How did you develop your signature style?

It's funny you ask this, because for a while I thought my work was all over the place and I didn't have a signature style. But then others started telling me they could immediately tell my work from other people's work. I guess it's just a certain edgy, minimalist aesthetic that I gravitate towards. It's definitely not something that I developed on purpose.

What inspired you to make Temporal Explorations?

Temporal Explorations is a sort of showreel of different techniques I came up with that play with the perception of time. I had already created a number of very short videos using these techniques, often consisting of just a single shot, but I thought they might work combined into a longer piece, given the underlying theme of exploring time.

Where did you shoot?

The various segments were shot on location in Rotterdam, New York, Chicago, and South Africa. There was only one studio shot (well, actually it was shot in my bathroom). I shot them over a few years for the purpose of experimenting.

Would you be able to talk us through some of the techniques you used?

One of the techniques I started experimenting with a couple of years ago is long exposure timelapse. I saw what some photographers were doing with long exposure photography and wanted to translate that relaxed, quiet look and feel to timelapse photography, which often has a very hectic feel to it.

If you were to take a series of long exposures and turn them into a timelapse though, time would be sped up enormously in the resulting video, because you can only take a still every few minutes. That, in turn, would not give it that meditative feel I was after, apart from the fact that it would take a very long time to shoot such a timelapse. So I found out that there was a way to take a regular timelapse and blend each frame with dozens, or sometimes hundreds, of frames before and after it, creating the same effect as if you had taken overlapping long exposure shots every few seconds.

Another technique is what I call "morphlapse". I took seven stills of The Wrigley building in Chicago, each from a slightly different angle, and used the Optical Flow algorithm in Final Cut Pro to create an 11-second hyperlapse from just those seven initial frames. The result is a very serene and somewhat surreal looking hyperlapse. You can read more about how it was done here.

The last shot in Temporal Explorations is a combination of these techniques. I took a series of semi-long exposures (about a second each) of water flowing over a group of rocks. I then "morphed" these shots into a longer video and then did the frame blending to create the long exposure look. The result looks very surreal. The water seems to flow in slow motion but has this streaky, long exposure look to it. It's almost like a still image. The viewer probably doesn't quite know what's going on, which is exactly my intention.

What apps do you use in post-production?

I usually start by processing my raw images in Aperture. Then I assemble the individual images into a timelapse using an app called Sequence. It's a simple and easy-to-use app that has exactly the features that I want; nothing more, nothing less. From there I take things into Final Cut Pro to do time remapping, colour grading, or create effects like the long exposure look that you see in some of my timelapses.

Do you prefer to work in black and white?

As strange as it may sound when you see my work, but I don't really have a preference for black and white or colour. But somewhere in the process I usually end up converting things to black and white. Maybe it's because I don't want them to look too realistic and I lean towards a more abstract, minimalistic look. Someone once pointed out to me that I was the only person he knew who was doing these stylized black & white time lapses, so in the end it helped in order to stand out from the crowd, but that was more an unintentional side effect. Since then I've seen more black & white time lapses.

What are you trying to show through Temporal Explorations?

The main point of Temporal Explorations is to show that there's an incredible world of creative possibilities, if you let go of your conventions of how things are "supposed" to be done. I arrived at all of these unconventional techniques through a lot of trial and error, and during my workshops I often encourage people to try crazy ideas every now and then. If you try something new there's always the risk that it doesn't turn out the way you wanted. But it's very rewarding when it does. And more often than not, you end up with something even cooler than your original idea.

What other projects are you working on at the moment?

Apart from my more fine art oriented work, I frequently collaborate with other photographers. I'm quite excited about a project I'm doing in collaboration with landscape photographer Athena Carey that was filmed in 2014 on location in South Africa. [You can take a look here.]

I also teach workshops internationally with a small group of fine art photographers under the name Vision Explorers. And then there's my commercial work, where I help people communicate their stories to their audience. At the moment for example, I'm working with a polar explorer and with an astronaut who has spent more than six months on the International Space Station. Never a dull moment!

You can find more from Armand at http://armanddijcks.com.

Have you taken any awesome timelapse videos lately? We would love to see them submitted on our timelapse website, Primelapse! To get started with the basics of timelapse, check out our handy tutorial.

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