city of shadows
June 12, 2008 9:09 AM   Subscribe

In City of Shadows, Alexey Titareno uses long exposures to create an eerie effect.
posted by Armitage Shanks (35 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
Those are eerie. I thought I was looking at torrents of smoke, at first. Very nice.
posted by everichon at 9:14 AM on June 12, 2008 [2 favorites]

Oh, gorgeous. That's just wonderful stuff.
posted by cortex at 9:15 AM on June 12, 2008

Oooooh. These are fantastic.
posted by cmyk at 9:20 AM on June 12, 2008

All we are is dust in the wind.
posted by Dave Faris at 9:20 AM on June 12, 2008

Interesting. Still, I don't think you can find any black and white picture with Russian that doesn't look eerie.
posted by Citizen Premier at 9:21 AM on June 12, 2008

Oh wow...these are awesome...I love this one.
posted by biscotti at 9:28 AM on June 12, 2008

Cool, I love it.
posted by echo target at 9:30 AM on June 12, 2008

Absolutely astounding.. definitely in a different league than your bog-standard head/tail-light trails. Reminds me of the train scene from Spirited Away. (warning: mild spoilers)

I'd love to see a video version of this.
posted by Drexen at 9:35 AM on June 12, 2008

Finally, a photographer who uses what could be otherwise construed as a gimmick technique to actually augment and take the concept to a whole other level. This is how it should be done.
posted by infinitefloatingbrains at 9:36 AM on June 12, 2008

holy moly. i've seen things similar to this before; but the length of his exposures, and the amount of movement combined with the black and white aesthetic puts this in a class of its own.
posted by mikearauz at 9:37 AM on June 12, 2008

How was the motion of all those people captured without over-exposing the film? The feet in this one aren't blurred, which makes me think this a multiple long exposure, maybe fired in short bursts.

Very skilful indeed!
posted by SciencePunk at 9:42 AM on June 12, 2008

He uses the technique in Time Standing Still, as well. Very neat photography.
posted by yhbc at 9:43 AM on June 12, 2008

SciencePunk, feet and hands-on-railings are two things that stay put when you walk up a flight of stairs. It's one long exposure using either really slow film or (probably more likely) a really tight aperture.
posted by cortex at 9:45 AM on June 12, 2008

I'd guess that half of the magic is done in the camera, and the other half in the dark room.
posted by Dave Faris at 9:46 AM on June 12, 2008

posted by Artw at 9:53 AM on June 12, 2008

Your post, she is good.
posted by dersins at 10:41 AM on June 12, 2008

If there was an alien being who had evolved to process visual data at a slower rate than we humans did, perhaps this is what they would see, humanity being integrated overtime to convert our singular selves to a teeming mass.

It is nice that we are able to experience it.

The same idea can go the other way. Imagine a being which processed visual information at a dramatically faster rate (if this single exposure was 10,000 times longer than a typical exposure, imagine some that were 10,000 faster), then perhaps we would perceive things differently still. I like to think that our singular selves would again look to be like a teeming collection, as every slight muscle tick or hair movement would be accentuated, so that we would appear to be a rolling mess of motion rather than a coherent whole.

We would be able to simulate such an effect by recording video using extremely high-frame-rate techniques that we already possess. But experiencing it is another issue, as there are few people who would have the patience to sit and watch an hour video of someone raising their hand to wave.
posted by LoopyG at 11:12 AM on June 12, 2008

posted by billypilgrim at 11:22 AM on June 12, 2008

Hauntingly gorgeous. Thanks for the post!
posted by dbiedny at 11:28 AM on June 12, 2008

LoopyG, they're fun ideas. Robert Forward's Dragon's Egg tackles in part the idea of vastly out-of-sync species—the inhabitants of a neutron star approaching human space and the strange week-long vs. epochs-spanning experience of first contact, with the aliens moving from scientific deficit to scientific powerhouse at stunning (to the humans) speed. There's an human-visible encounter late in the story between the human crew and an alien pioneer who—from the alien's perspective—parks outside a window of the human space station for a matter of years, holding very still. A fun read.

Doing this with video would be a great way to sort of play with the other side of the coin. Simulate an extremely slow decay rate for photoreceptors by doing, say, a weighted moving average of the last 100 or 1000 frames of video.
posted by cortex at 11:36 AM on June 12, 2008

Wondrous strange!
Thanks, Arm!
posted by Dizzy at 11:44 AM on June 12, 2008

posted by blue_beetle at 11:48 AM on June 12, 2008

Great post, great photos. Thanks.
posted by Outlawyr at 11:58 AM on June 12, 2008

This one gave me the shivers. So very creepy.
posted by sarcasticah at 12:15 PM on June 12, 2008

This is amazing. Thank you.
posted by Brainy at 12:38 PM on June 12, 2008

Wow. Russians sure are blurry.

I like this.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:59 PM on June 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

This is fantastic. Thanks.
posted by homunculus at 2:44 PM on June 12, 2008

These are amazing images. I have a feeling there is way more going into these than long exposures. It's like he found a group of tightly packed black felt clad commuters to do his bidding. They certainly read as perfectly exposed long shutter speed photographs, but the uniformity of the darkness of the moving figures definitely makes me wonder what the artists method was. I can't really find anything where the artist is making any sort of description of his methods are; I have a feeling the explanations are mostly inferred.
No matter what his method, they are unforgettable.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 4:04 PM on June 12, 2008

I was speculating about a tiny aperture above, but there's what appears to be finite depth of field in some of the shots (e.g. crisp handrail foreground, soft windows and brickwork background here) that makes me wonder if he's instead just shooting through very dark filters—it'd solve the same problem of limiting light without costing him control over DoF.

I'm fiddling with a super cheapo filter (sharpie marker + some plastic) and having a lovely blurry time myself, at the moment; all else aside, these are inspiring to look at.

And yeah, SR, I wonder whether he has a great crowd of friends or volunteers—the wall of black is very striking for its apparent density.
posted by cortex at 4:28 PM on June 12, 2008

This photo of his supposed setup doesn't seem all that elaborate. Watch the 3-part documentary - I think it shows a lot of the scenes that result in the images.
posted by junesix at 5:57 PM on June 12, 2008

Watching the doc now; I'd missed that before, junesix. Thanks for the heads up. A little discussion of long exposures, but no specifics on technique so far, though it seems very casual in general—just a good idea and a sense of placement and strong technique making it work, I guess.

I came home from work and fiddled around a bit with a really chintzy filter idea this afternoon; here's a (blurry) foot caught in time with a 1-2 second exposure. I can imagine how good optics, good focus, and a crowd could make for a really striking image along the lines of what Alexey is doing.
posted by cortex at 6:16 PM on June 12, 2008

A ha! At 8:25 in segment II, you can see him set up a shot, then pull the sun guard and drop on a nice black filter.
posted by cortex at 6:18 PM on June 12, 2008

so now i know what the smokemonster is in lost.
posted by fuzzypantalones at 9:11 PM on June 12, 2008

Nice to see someone using a camera without Photoshop.
posted by cedar key at 11:39 AM on June 13, 2008

That is very cool. Good post shanks.
posted by a3matrix at 12:37 PM on June 13, 2008

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