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January 23, 2006 6:02 AM   Subscribe

"It's often hard to convince people that Olivo Barbieri's aerial photographs are real." Amazing aerial photographs by Olivo Barbieri, who uses a tilt-shift lens to create the startling effect of looking at a city model. Article by metropolismag.com
posted by zardoz (67 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow, I want more!
posted by furtive at 6:14 AM on January 23, 2006


"After 9/11 the world had become a little bit blurred because things that seemed impossible happened. My desire was to look at the city again."

Oh fuck right off. I think the images are fascinating but fuck off with the 9/11 shit.
posted by bouncebounce at 6:17 AM on January 23, 2006 [1 favorite]


I think it looks like a model because he's getting these depth-of-field effects that I would normally associate with much small scales. Interesting stuff.
posted by hupp at 6:17 AM on January 23, 2006


That is so weird, they do look fake. Having little experience with photography outside the automated hand-holding that digital cameras do for me, I had to look up 'tilt shift lens':

Tilt-shift lens (TS).

A lens capable of both tilt and shift movements.

Such lenses permit certain types of lens movements with respect to the body even if the camera does not have a lens separated from the body by a flexible bellows mechanism.

Tilt-shift lenses can be used to correct for the problem of converging verticals, for example. This is lens shifting or perspective control - see the section on perspective control for more details.

The lenses can also tilt, which lets you move the optical axis away from the perpendicular of the film plane. Normally the optical axis of a lens is precisely perpendicular (90°) from the film surface, but tilt lenses let you alter this angle, which is useful for altering what parts of an image are within the depth of field and are thus in focus.

cf. bellows, converging verticals, image area, image circle, movements, perspective control lens.
posted by poppo at 6:19 AM on January 23, 2006 [1 favorite]


MY 911 IS BETTER THAN URE 911

These are fantastic, thanks. Currently trawling google for more.
posted by oxala at 6:21 AM on January 23, 2006


Oh fuck right off. I think the images are fascinating but fuck off with the 9/11 shit.

Yeah, I was gonna say, it's interesting except for the invocation of 9/11 in the very first paragraph. Like, "My work is significant because I'm framing it in terms of 9/11." Shaddup.
posted by Gator at 6:26 AM on January 23, 2006



Oh fuck right off. I think the images are fascinating but fuck off with the 9/11 shit.

You know, it's possible that whoever wrote the article plucked this nugget out of a 30 minute conversation. Not fair to blame the artist for framing it this way.
posted by glenwood at 6:28 AM on January 23, 2006


Reminds me of Claudio Edinger's work from Rio.

And, what bouncebounce said.
posted by photoslob at 6:30 AM on January 23, 2006


Back on track...

Dan Rutter over at Dan's Data just did a great article on a tilt shift lens he's playing with, complete with a lot of good technical details. When I first read Rutter's article, this kind of retro-tech looked like an interesting toy, but clearly Barbieri has figured out some awesomely cool things to do.
posted by Mercaptan at 6:34 AM on January 23, 2006


New York-New York Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas

Okay, to be fair, that one is pretty much a city model.
posted by rkent at 6:34 AM on January 23, 2006


more
posted by threehundredandsixty at 7:06 AM on January 23, 2006


This just in! Distorted, out-of-focus photos look fake. More on this developing story at 11.
posted by mischief at 7:20 AM on January 23, 2006


The photos are awesome. I failed to be outraged by the 9/11 reference, since I figured these photos were taken from a plane, it had some resonance. But I wasn't really looking at the page for the text anyway.
posted by Hildegarde at 7:26 AM on January 23, 2006


Ah, so filled with photographic "truthiness".

James Frey should get him to take his next book jacket portrait.
posted by R. Mutt at 7:28 AM on January 23, 2006


Wow. Those are fantastic photos.
posted by SisterHavana at 7:29 AM on January 23, 2006


Great link. Thanks!
posted by cribcage at 7:40 AM on January 23, 2006


Excellent! Thanks.
posted by OmieWise at 7:41 AM on January 23, 2006


Amazing. It really is hard to believe that these aren't models.
posted by boo_radley at 7:50 AM on January 23, 2006


Wow..these are incredible shots.

Reminds me of some photos I took years back of the scale model Jerusalem outside of Jerusalem - these images have that same scale model feel, but are quite real..beautiful.
posted by zerokey at 7:50 AM on January 23, 2006


These are not great photographs. They use a technique that suggests limited depth of field, something we associate with closeups. So what?
posted by 327.ca at 7:51 AM on January 23, 2006


Wow, someone is a Grumpy Gus. I'm so sorry that everyone's standard of great was unable to live up to your own. I liked the photos, why should I care if they aren't so complex technically?
posted by cyphill at 7:56 AM on January 23, 2006


The comments at BLDGBLOG have some links to others working with the swing/tilt, including Miklos Gaal.
posted by shoepal at 7:58 AM on January 23, 2006


I liked the photos, why should I care if they aren't so complex technically?

Heh. Because they're "about" technique. Take away the focus trick and what do you have? Boring arial photos.
posted by 327.ca at 7:59 AM on January 23, 2006


327.ca - sometimes it's fun to look at something simply. Like watching a scifi movie with bad science and turning off the reality filter and just enjoying it.
posted by zerokey at 8:01 AM on January 23, 2006


Well, I really like these.
posted by amro at 8:04 AM on January 23, 2006


I think I agree with 327.ca.
posted by R. Mutt at 8:06 AM on January 23, 2006


The city's simulated monuments are made to look artificial, in total defiance of their reality. For Barbieri it is "the city as an avatar of itself."

OK. Whatever.

I love urban landscape photography and do get a bit judgemental about work that derives most of its interest from a gimmick.
posted by 327.ca at 8:13 AM on January 23, 2006


Yeah, those are great, but he's yet to capture a flying car. :)
posted by soundofsuburbia at 8:28 AM on January 23, 2006


I think R.Mutt is right.
posted by crunchland at 8:38 AM on January 23, 2006


Yeah, I'm with R. Mutt also.
posted by 327.ca at 8:42 AM on January 23, 2006


Fucking beautiful. Thanks.
posted by Tlogmer at 8:52 AM on January 23, 2006


Nearly unbelievable that these are photos of the real thing.
posted by raedyn at 8:58 AM on January 23, 2006


There are two types of respondants here: those who like them for what they are, and those who dump because they're not interesting/the artist was thinking of 9-11/they're not technically accomplished.

Count me in with the former. You can tear anything apart if you think about it long enough. Maybe I'm not jaded enough-4-U when it comes to aerial photography, but dammit I intend to treasure whatever moments of wonder I have left in my pitiful life.
posted by JHarris at 9:05 AM on January 23, 2006


No, 327.ca is right. Photographs of fonts are boring.
posted by rocketpup at 9:06 AM on January 23, 2006


To summarize:
'A++, THANKS' if you don't know technical stuff about cameras
'BAD EBAYER' if you do
posted by poppo at 9:08 AM on January 23, 2006


To reduce the images in description to "a focus trick" shows a complete lack of understanding of how they were made. Proper use of a tilt-shift lens isn't something most photographers will ever tackle, even conceptually. Using one from a moving platform is even more impressive when you consider that airplanes can hardly ever maintain perfect level flight for extended periods of time.
posted by doctor_negative at 9:12 AM on January 23, 2006


I intend to treasure whatever moments of wonder I have left in my pitiful life.

Good for you! I certainly wasn't attacking anyone who enjoys this stuff. If you like it, then fine.

But...(you knew there was a "but", right?)...I think that criticism is OK too. We're a generation that's been forcefed "special effects" and I think too often we look for the gee-whiz factor. These shots are all about SFX, IMHO.
posted by 327.ca at 9:13 AM on January 23, 2006


327.ca: ...they're "about" technique. Take away the focus trick and what do you have? Boring arial photos.

You can play the "Take away the X technique and what do you have" game with an awful lot of photographs, and much of art in general for that matter. Ansel Adams' pictures wouldn't be the same in color, or without his extensive darkroom fiddling. Georges Seurat's paintings wouldn't be the same without Pointillism.

I don't understand how one can separate substance and gimmick so cleanly when considering something that's entirely aesthetics in the first place.

Myself, I enjoyed seeing these pictures, and I honestly don't care why I found them appealing.
posted by Western Infidels at 9:15 AM on January 23, 2006


To reduce the images in description to "a focus trick" shows a complete lack of understanding of how they were made.

You're kind of making my point, I think. Does one have to understand how they were made in order to truly appreciate these photographs?
posted by 327.ca at 9:15 AM on January 23, 2006


Does one have to understand how they were made in order to truly appreciate these photographs?

Yes, but aren't all pictures just boring snapshots by this reasoning?
"Throw away the composition and the lighting and it's just a naked lady"

I would also argue that there's an abstract quality presented in the images, the world seen as a small toy, that doesn't require any technical knowledge to appreciate.
posted by doctor_negative at 9:27 AM on January 23, 2006


doctor_negative got it right.
posted by agregoli at 9:32 AM on January 23, 2006


Cool. Actually, a little part of my brain is convinced that this is a fake article written to convince me that these ovbiously fake pics are real.
As an aside, the 9/11 thing bugged me, too. A lot of us are sensitive about the various invocations of 9/11. The 9-11: Don't ever forget bumperstickers you still see around make me furious. I lived and worked in NYC at the time and I couldn't forget if I tried.
posted by willpie at 9:43 AM on January 23, 2006


Dismissing a photograph by qualifying it as a "focus trick" is not so unlike dismmising any painter's work with, "Oh, those are just brush tricks."
posted by Dukebloo at 9:44 AM on January 23, 2006


I'm with Dukebloo. Anyway, Barbieri seems to have been using this style in 1999 and 2000 (see the 2nd, 3rd, 7th and 8th photos here), so the "I'm doing it b/c of 9/11" thing does seem like an after-the-fact rationalization. Still, these are really fun, thanks.
posted by mediareport at 10:03 AM on January 23, 2006


I got to see the film version of Las Vegas at the 2005 Toronto International Fillm Festival, and it was probably the best short on the program.
From the opening shot, of dune buggies bouncing around in the desert, the film looked like someone shooting a scale model of Vegas & it's surroundings. And the night shots were awesome.
If you see it (and god knows what media outlet you'd find it on/in, but good luck) check it out. it's very cool.
posted by Al_Truist at 10:08 AM on January 23, 2006


oh, here's a link to the program listing from the TIFF website:

http://www.e.bell.ca/filmfest/2005/films_description.asp?id=249
posted by Al_Truist at 10:11 AM on January 23, 2006


Really liked the photos. As an interesting side note, you can fake it pretty well in photoshop. I took this pic & doctored it to have the same appearance.


posted by password at 10:34 AM on January 23, 2006


What Western Infidels said. That kind of argument comes out all the time: "Oh, but if you took away X, it wouldn't be impressive." First, this presupposes that X is somehow separable from the rest of the work, and it creates a strawman version of the work which is missing X. I hear it come up in relation to music mostly with regard to some kind of studio production technique. First, the technique is the art, and second, it doesn't matter if it wouldn't be as good without the "gimmick" because the "gimmick" is present, and so any other hypothetical version of the work is irrelevant.
posted by ludwig_van at 10:46 AM on January 23, 2006


Heh. Because they're "about" technique. Take away the focus trick and what do you have? Boring arial photos.

Yes, but you have the technique, and thus the pictures are hardcore awsome.

I suppose it's the kind of thing where you have to understand whats going on to apreciate it.
posted by delmoi at 10:49 AM on January 23, 2006


This reminds me of my neighbor, and his $5,000 stereo-room-multi-speaker-thing (thats my name for it ... not his), he listens too Kenny G on it. And he actually says things like... " doesn't sound hardcore awsome!"
posted by R. Mutt at 11:02 AM on January 23, 2006


Dismissing a photograph by qualifying it as a "focus trick" is not so unlike dismmising any painter's work with, "Oh, those are just brush tricks."

If the first and only thing that registers when you look at a painting are the brush strokes then, yeah, I'd make the same argument.
posted by 327.ca at 11:09 AM on January 23, 2006


That kind of argument comes out all the time: "Oh, but if you took away X, it wouldn't be impressive."

Good, because it's a useful way to understand things. Take the first photograph in this article, for example: "An aqueduct on the periphery of Rome". Presumably, the subject is exactly what he says it is. If the photograph is about the aqueduct, what does it say that other shots of the aqueduct do not? Nothing, in my opinion. Yes, he makes it look like a model -- but so do all his other photographs, and how many times can that be interesting?
posted by 327.ca at 11:17 AM on January 23, 2006


and how many times can that be interesting?

Quite a few, obviously, to some of us. Not to you, though. Now, what's to argue again?
posted by mediareport at 11:25 AM on January 23, 2006


Good FPP, thanks,
posted by dejah420 at 11:37 AM on January 23, 2006


I agree with 327.ca's position. I bought a Canon 24mm tilt-shift lens a few years ago and when I started taking shots they were basically all the same - crank up the tilt, eyeball the focus on something interesting, done. The hard part was getting the exposure right since the tilt plays merry hell with the inbuilt meter. On subsequent reflection, all the shots were basically the same - an effect for effect's sake. It's really no different than the Photoshop lens flare filter. The better shots I've taken with the lens since (I believe) use the effect as part of the photograph, not something just slapped on the top. These pictures all seem the same to me - excessive tilting, no real connection between the technique and the image.
posted by ny_scotsman at 11:42 AM on January 23, 2006


.
posted by fandango_matt at 12:00 PM on January 23, 2006


said by 327.ca they're "about" technique. Take away the focus trick and what do you have? Boring arial photos.

Same thing with Starry Night. Take away the brush trick and what do you have? A boring landscape. And Nude Descending a Staircase is just a bunch of colored blocks. And Guernica is just a poorly-drawn horse.
posted by fandango_matt at 12:01 PM on January 23, 2006


Anything that makes the real world look like a set from Thunderbirds is okay in my book.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:01 PM on January 23, 2006


password - cool trick. What filters/transforms did you do?

I'm guessing that it'd be difficult for a complete n00b, but then, things worth doing generally are.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 12:08 PM on January 23, 2006


Agreed, nice job by password. I got pretty close to his effort by (1) using a digital noise removal filter at a high setting to give everything a plasticy look, and (2) defining a "focus area" and throwing a progressive blur on everything else. Barbieri's daytime photographs are also fairly high contrast so I played with that as well. Finally, I used an agressive barrel distortion correction to make the perspective look a little unreal. (That's probably not quite the correct choice, but it's too much work to figure out the whole tilt lens thing...)
posted by srt19170 at 1:07 PM on January 23, 2006


Cool stuff, never heard of shift tilt photography before, it certainly does create a pretty cool photo.

What kind of lens do I need to make my models look like the real thing? I hear Vaseline works wonders.
posted by fenriq at 2:59 PM on January 23, 2006


I cant be bothered at the moment, but if you wanted to make your own, I'd use this-
http://www.richardrosenman.com/dofpro.htm
posted by phyle at 3:56 PM on January 23, 2006


That’s some snazzy photography.
*places in the ‘shit I’d like to do but am nowhere near talented enough to’ file*
posted by Smedleyman at 5:20 PM on January 23, 2006


most excellent! thanks.
posted by tarantula at 6:55 PM on January 23, 2006


It was actually deceptively simple. I started with this image, which has the bonus of a good focal point & harsh perspective (the hard part). I made a temporary layer with an oval over the phallic tower so I could use that as a reference point. Then, I just used the blur tool with a giant brush to blur around the oval (on the city layer), progressively blurring more as the brush moved away (more passes). After that, I adjusted the color levels for better contrast.

Now that I look back on the original photo, I realize that it already had a fake / model look to it. I just accentuated it.
posted by password at 7:48 PM on January 23, 2006


These are great photos, and password, thanks for sharing your technique.
posted by forwebsites at 12:16 AM on January 24, 2006


Here are some more and an article on creating the effect.
posted by tellurian at 5:04 PM on January 31, 2006


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