Take a Tour of Technicolor Cities Around the World
The flat textures and aqua-hued tones of Ben Thomas’ urban landscapes wouldn’t look out of place in a graphic novel, but don’t be fooled, these are photographs, not illustrations.
Thomas loves to play with perception. He’s miniaturized bustling cities like New York and London with a tilt-shift lens for Cityshrinker and turned cities upside down and inside out for Accession. In Chroma, he explores the effect of extreme color. “I wanted to break these cities down to their most basic colors and shapes, an aesthetic that is illustrative and flat,” Thomas says.
The Melbourne photographer is wandering the world for the project, and so far has visited Australia, China, the UK, France and Italy. He shoots with a Canon 5D Mark III and a few choice lenses. Dropping into a new city an be overwhelming, so Thomas often spends time cruising Google street view before arriving to get a better idea of what he wants to shoot. Sometimes, though, he simply sets off with no plan in mind.
However he starts, Thomas tries to capture distinctive architecture with minimalistic features that reflect a city’s personality. “Hong Kong and Shanghai are just incredible, highly dense and architecturally relatively modern cities, while Paris and London have a striking and interesting mix of new and old,” he says.
Thomas typically shoots on bright, sunny days to give his photos a flat, even feel to his photos. He uses Lightroom and Photoshop to decrease the shadows as much as possible, then plays with color balance and vibrancy to create an almost neon hue. The process, which is trickier than it sounds, took a year of experimenting to get the right combination of intense color and depth.
Though located all over the world, the cities are united by the color treatment. Each bustling metropolis is condensed to color and form, allowing its features to be more fully appreciated. “I think the cities and places we live in can sometimes present as overly complex and somewhat daunting,” he says. “I want to show the inherent beauty that exists when you start breaking down these intricate scenes to their most simple components.”
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