07 2016

Expand your vision!Kate Auerbach

I do not enjoy driving. Every time I read news about progress in the car industry, I hope that self-driving cars would replace conventional ones as soon as possible. Compared to me, my husband does not feel uneasy behind the wheel. At the age of sixteen, however, even he had problems passing his first driving test when he almost killed a little dog, which he did not notice. "Expand your vision!" was the usual advice of my husband's driving instructor.

One of the powerful inventions allowing us to expand our poor vision is the lens. Depending on their type, lenses can not only sharpen the visual image of near-sighted people but also expand the angle of human's vision. Christopher Shaw, 2015 Black & White Portfolio Contest Winner, pushed this idea even further. He takes multiple photographs of the same scene from different angles and collages them. Similar to a tailor, he then sews the pieces together, which results in what he calls a "distorted", almost multidimensional scene.

The Light is Dark #9, Toronto, ON, 2013 The Light is Dark #8, Toronto, ON, 2013 The Light is Dark #12, Toronto, ON, 2013 The Light is Dark #1, Toronto, ON, 2013 The Light is Dark #3, Toronto, ON, 2013

Most of digital photography relies on photo editors, programs that can manipulate all aspects of the raw image. Without those, contemporary photographers would be handicapped. Unless... they know the techniques of the past. The 18th-century artist, Giovanni Battista Piranesi, was a master of wide viewing angle when photo cameras did not yet exist. Recently featured by Cantor Arts Center, his 1777 drawings of three ancient Greek temples transformed the traditional idea of perspective. Piranesi replaced one focal point with multiple ones, sometimes placed outside of the drawing. This technique allowed more of the scene to be included in the image opening up the space for "greater dramatic effects." This is what both architectural photographers and architects wish for but almost never achieve.

Exterior of the Basilica
Giovanni Battista Piranesi (Italy, 1720-1778), Paestum, Italy: Exterior of the Basilica, 1777.

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