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August 04, 2005



It's one of those "The medium is the message" moments -- and in this case, it's the technology that's the art. Just a case of everyone jumping on the bandwagon -- like the big C-prints Dusseldorf group ala Gursky. It's disappointing...and boring. My advice if you like this style, buy the "first mover," or the photographer repped by the most influential gallery -- they'll probably be the one to appreciate in value. Personally, I'm bored by the use of this focusing technology in landscapes, and would rather see it used for something even more conceptual.

Ken Merriam

I had an immediate positive reaction when I first saw this technique-I didn't realize that five different people were doing the same thing. For those interested in this, I tried to look back through the posted pictures on the internet and it looks like Frank van der Salm was the first one doing this- he did a show called View/Sight/Vision with this technique in 1999. Toni Hafkenscheid did some pictures like this in 2000. I like this style and I think that each person is doing something a little differently. Interesting to see that these five photographers come from five different countries-makes me wonder whether "schools of photography" can start from internet browsing?

massimo vitali

Well,I have been following the selective focus explosion and I know that out there there are lots more guys tilting their backs.
In addition to this some crafty manufacturer is offering a front lens element to enable digital slr photographers to get that table top look.
I always considered this way of taking pictures a nice gimmick not a style.


I agree that these seem eerily similar. Still I would say that an art world that no longer cares if a picture is any good in itself, and only looks at what the concept behind it is, will be in for a lot of disappointments in the future.

I believe that ideas happen simultaneously on separate parts of the globe. God knows why. Signs of the times maybe. -Unevitable next steps in some direction. For instance... I myself have written down ideas for screenplays, or scenes in them in little notebooks over the years. After a decade has passed have passed, tons of these little ideas have appeared in other films. Films that weren't out when I wrote the scenes. I couldn't have been unconciously influenced by them. People just have the same ideas. And I think this is a great problem with conceptualism. You get disappointed because you have false expectations. You expect something completely unique, but you only get one of many. And now with the internet pumping images our way, we discover more of the unknowns.

Another problem with tilted film backs is that people see these photos as being similar because of the format. Think of panorama photography... That is also in a way an effect created by the hardware used. But we have seen so many photographers doing that for so long now that we don't think of on as being a copy of another because of the similarities in format. I myself use a tilt and shift camera. Many people have said that it's so incredibly original that some of my photos look like miniatures. I always nervously correct them and point out that there are others. Otherwise they may discover this later and accuse me of unoriginality. I'm not after a miniature look anyway, but it is a side-effect of the focus.

But in your examples here... I would have to say that I agree that these are very very very close to each other. But does it matter? Was Rembrandt unique and original? Or is he the one out of many who is remembered because the images themselves were better? Humans are not original-thinking animals. We reuse ideas. We sample and remix and add our own. Hopefully at least, we add our own. In the end, the stronger image will survive in peoples' memories. The images that have something to say besides "look at me, I'm an effect".


This technique will probably gain even more prominence when it's used for portraiture (ie nudes), by some unoriginal, style-stealing photographer/hack like Steven Klein, or when someone discovers a way to use it for moving images in a a music video.


well according to his bio on lumas.de Jörg Fahlenkamp (geb. 1967) started his series "Häuser" (houses) and „Modellwelten" (modelworlds) in 1993...

also the use of a tilted focal plane is quite easy and has been used in stills fotography for ccommercials or architecture for a while, even in some commercials (TV) you can find the use of tilt & shift lenses these days (actually in TV commercials the boom is defintely over) Jo


Check out the link on tilt/shift photography for more info on their processes


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