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Artist Rolf Sachs' photo series inspired by train travel, embraces blur

By dpreview staff on Aug 21, 2013 at 10:00 GMT

Anyone who's traveled by train has seen the landscape outside of their car moving by in a blur. While most of us turn our attention back to our reading material and mobile devices, artist Rolf Sachs' finds inspiration. His photo series, called 'Camera in Motion,' aims to capture the effect of the blurred landscapes outside of his train traveling between Switzerland and Italy. The resulting images walk a line between landscape photography and surrealist art. 

Photo by Rolf Sachs.
Photo by Rolf Sachs.
Photo by Rolf Sachs.
Photo by Rolf Sachs.

While the photo industry continues to churn out higher-resolution sensors, it's interesting to see a photographer embracing the blurriness that we often seek to avoid. Read more about his process at BBC Culture and let us know what you think of his unique project in the comments.

Via: BBC Culture, Source: Rolf Sachs

Comments

Total comments: 160
12
chapita
By chapita (3 months ago)

Looking at this I'm going to prepare some kind of "out of focus" photo series inspired in something.

0 upvotes
Digitall
By Digitall (6 months ago)

And I delete so many supposed artworks for trash bin...
I have to be more selective.

1 upvote
CaseyComo
By CaseyComo (8 months ago)

Ehhh...

0 upvotes
Wildbegonia
By Wildbegonia (8 months ago)

An intentional blur and movement ? See: http://photoslaves.com/moving-pictures-by-chris-friel/
And Canadian: http://www.frankgrisdale.com

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 7 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Stealthy Ninja
By Stealthy Ninja (8 months ago)

Sigh...

1 upvote
babalu
By babalu (8 months ago)

Why was this photo series taken with a middle format camera ? Leica S2, sensor size 45 mm × 30 mm . One reason I can think of is to be able to produce very large prints, that can then be used for art installations in foyers and galleries. Profitable if you have the right name. Size beats quality sometimes.

1 upvote
KodaChrome25
By KodaChrome25 (8 months ago)

I like the concept. I'm less impressed with the results. My personal tastes run more with having something sharp in the frame as a point of reference. As an example, look for the dog looking out the window (appears to be in a moving car maybe?)

http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/08/24/45-beautiful-motion-blur-photos/

2 upvotes
Bryanoz
By Bryanoz (8 months ago)

I followed your link and that is an awesome set of images, that's more like it!

0 upvotes
m3
By m3 (8 months ago)

Eight months and 9,077 images on a Leica S2! Even then, any others taken on the way to work on a G9 by hundreds of amateur photographers are at least similar if not better than this 'project'.
The difference is the cheek needed to call it BBC 'culture'.

0 upvotes
Spectro
By Spectro (8 months ago)

my old point & shoot camera did this naturally, didn't need a train.

7 upvotes
Gioradan
By Gioradan (8 months ago)

Very nice work. I have to try it some time... Shame there are no commuters trains in my part of the world..

0 upvotes
CameraLabTester
By CameraLabTester (8 months ago)

"Go away, little blur,

Go away little blur,

You're hurting my eyes,

Each minute that we delay.

When you're near me like this,

I find it hard to resist,

So go away little blur,

Before I tear you apart,

And rip you to shreds,

And they take me away..."

.

4 upvotes
b craw
By b craw (8 months ago)

As it is often an unintended product of photography, I can understand being initially compelled to dismiss blur and unfocused imagery. But, like any formal technique, its appropriateness comes in relation to concept(s). From the standpoint of aesthetics, some examples may reward immediately, some over time, or some not at all. Overall, I am still forming my opinion of the work featured in this article. But, as an artist, I do use lack of focus at times. Many are citing other posters' photography in their rebuttals (maybe not wise). But, preemptively, here: an image a in response to thinking about sense translations (Synaesthesia), and intended to suggest genetics - part of the series "Glossolalia". If you are curious, only minimal adjustments via Photoshop. [do recognize that Flickr is a sketchbook for me, often not for finished work]

http://www.flickr.com/photos/bcraw/3803096801/

better on white:
http://bighugelabs.com/onblack.php?id=3803096801&bg=white

Comment edited 3 times, last edit 12 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
wailsound
By wailsound (8 months ago)

Personally I like to be challenged in my viewing of art, I enjoying seeing what people come up with and different uses for tools.
It is refreshing to see a different view of the world and in this day of high Mega pixel cameras, super sharp lenses with camera bodies
that auto focus, exposes and image stabilise, it’s good to see images that go against that.
It’s nice to see people mixing it up and upsetting the establishment.

3 upvotes
rdc13
By rdc13 (8 months ago)

After reading these comments, I remember why camera geeks should play with their cameras, shoot test patterns and leave real the image making to artists.

3 upvotes
Nemesis2001
By Nemesis2001 (8 months ago)

With all respect ... I find mine better :D

https://www.facebook.com/antonio.caputo.1612/media_set?set=a.4626313066402.2178597.1550065214&type=3

https://www.facebook.com/antonio.caputo.1612/media_set?set=a.4486172562977.2175256.1550065214&type=3

0 upvotes
huyzer
By huyzer (8 months ago)

I disagree, with all respect. ;)

2 upvotes
meanwhile
By meanwhile (8 months ago)

Only one of yours has a focused background and blurred foreground, how are they similar?

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
ChrisKramer1
By ChrisKramer1 (8 months ago)

Well... ahem. However, I have seen galleries of train window shots which have been very effective - people looking sadly out of windows or ghostly images flitting across streets. I've had fun doing it myself - especially shooting videos with the reduced frame function that my old but still great Canon G9 offers. German trains are good for this because usually have big and clean windows. Make sure you use a compact to avoid loud shutter noise, though.

0 upvotes
bossa
By bossa (8 months ago)

Unless a work is entirely of a structural-formal nature one usually needs to reference internal image elements to other internal image elements so that a degree of cogence is attained and able to be sustained.

These images show slices of landscape subdivided by "nothing but blur" and, in most of the instances displayed, there's just not enough remaining of the blurred elements, in a material sense, to make these shots more than remotely interesting to me.

Blur is an representation of time, space, motion and the ephemeral nature of existence. These images, it seems to me, are quite superficial in their investigation into these matters.

I would have preferred a more even balance between the opposing visual elements in these images so as to create a more ambiguous space and reality.

Comment edited 4 times, last edit 4 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
Starkfrost
By Starkfrost (8 months ago)

First time commenter. Well, at least I've discovered that my 'motion blur' photos, made while driving in car are more related to art than I thought. However, my ones have kind of shaky blur, giving them painting effect.

http://www.dpreview.com/galleries/3317121967/albums/painting-by-blur

0 upvotes
Thatcannonguy
By Thatcannonguy (8 months ago)

A good picture is a picture you can watch again and again and again, wondering about what you see. Pictures that sweep you off your feet or make you dream.

These pictures are pictures of pure boredom !

2 upvotes
Cal22
By Cal22 (8 months ago)

Nowadays nearly anything can be put into the 'Art'-Department, turning it into a subject of belief. And there's always a lot of believers out there who don't know that good art is really rare.

9 upvotes
Thatcannonguy
By Thatcannonguy (8 months ago)

I cannot agree more. Well put !

0 upvotes
washyshots
By washyshots (8 months ago)

It's not just 'nowadays'. In 1917 Duchamp gave us the urinal (Fountain) which paved the way for a new kind of art. Let's not forget that the invention of photography forced artists to experiment with other modes of representation (abstraction for example) because the camera had solved the problem of realism. Part of the problem is that many photograhers don't like the idea of using the camera for art purposes. Good art, in my opinion, is not rare at all.

1 upvote
meanwhile
By meanwhile (8 months ago)

"And there's always a lot of believers out there who don't know that good art is really rare"

I see a lot of people saying these can be seen as art, I don't see as many saying they are necessarily good art.

0 upvotes
babalu
By babalu (8 months ago)

.

Comment edited 8 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
babalu
By babalu (8 months ago)

Well, his furniture objects, to be honest, are actually quite captivating. So yes, although I do not like his Photography, and although I am invariably against large money resources helping an artist, I must admit that he IS an artist.. although not in photography, to my taste.

0 upvotes
babalu
By babalu (8 months ago)

I checked him (Rolf Sachs) out in the web. His main virtue seems to be being the heir to Guenther Sachs. Otherwise a rather mediocre self proclaimed artist, who embarked in several different art branches without any remarkable success in either of them.

Comment edited 9 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
Lea5
By Lea5 (8 months ago)

Before you critisize his work so badly, you (after viewing your work in your gallery) should work harder and improve photography.

0 upvotes
babalu
By babalu (8 months ago)

Ok, let's see your work too ? Haven't found any ! By the way, I need not be a good photographer to recognize a mediocre one.

Comment edited 10 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
m3
By m3 (8 months ago)

Ah, this explains a lot. Namely why the BBC couldn't give a hoot about my work, for example - wrong family …
I can't afford a Leica S2 either, or for that matter a year's worth of train fares ...

2 upvotes
Paul_B Midlands UK
By Paul_B Midlands UK (8 months ago)

To me they are nicely framed images, as a set they work well I can imagine at some gallery somewhere or used by some train company as marketing stuff they work. Blur used intelligently works doesn't it. Does for me, as here. Waiting for uploads by all the waaaay negative posters to show there superior work of high credibility and technique.

3 upvotes
b craw
By b craw (8 months ago)

That is a good point. Maybe in this case, assessing the impact of the whole series in aggregate, and not necessarily that of a single image. Sometimes a single image is just an element in a larger syntax.

0 upvotes
dark goob
By dark goob (8 months ago)

Emperor's New Clothes.

Ever heard of that story?

Because these pictures are garbage!

7 upvotes
b craw
By b craw (8 months ago)

I find it interesting that often those who use the Emperor metaphor tend to dress the Emperor (via their photography) in blandly colored polo shirts - produce work, so predictable, invisibility would be preferable.

1 upvote
babalu
By babalu (8 months ago)

like Quino, one of the world'ś most acclaimed cartoonists once titled : "Ni arte ni parte" .

1 upvote
m3
By m3 (8 months ago)

Sólo un morro que se lo pisa.

Comment edited 16 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
likeafoxow
By likeafoxow (8 months ago)

Love it. Strong shapes and forms. I especially like the third picture. Very surreal, and the blur is absolutely gorgeous. To hell with those who hate it. It simply shows their ignorance and close-mindedness.

Comment edited 28 seconds after posting
1 upvote
CameraLabTester
By CameraLabTester (8 months ago)

Someone who has viewed this art has some positive thing to say:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kfu0KNNd3Q4

.

1 upvote
Geoliebert
By Geoliebert (8 months ago)

I have been doing this sort of thing for some time. I love the blending you get.

0 upvotes
Eric Calabros
By Eric Calabros (8 months ago)

I enjoyed watching these images. so its Art

1 upvote
Thatcannonguy
By Thatcannonguy (8 months ago)

LOL !

0 upvotes
meanwhile
By meanwhile (8 months ago)

"The resulting images walk a line between landscape photography and surrealist art"

I don't mind them, I'm certainly not spitting ignorant bile and hate like some below ... but I don't think these are surrealist is any way. Jeroen's mentioned below are better but they aren't surrealist either - http://jeroenselderslaghs.be (see Panning Project).

This one in particular reminds me of a Turner.

http://jeroenselderslaghs.be/onewebmedia/drive-by-panning_04.jpg

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 17 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Tan68
By Tan68 (8 months ago)

The difference I see between these here and the ones you link are that the linked ones have less depth.

The ones here, as best I can tell, try to have foreground blurry things ( as with those linked) with farground less blurry things (unlike those linked).

Maybe the ones here can be improved upon, but I like this sense of depth achieved by taking advantage of the difference in apparent speed.

This is why I like the third picture. Fairly sharp trees in the background covered by foreground blurry trees [I like the transparent look of the foreground trees and not necessarily the blur]. Still, think the background trees should be sharper. The images need some not blur element to contrast. Hard to do, I imagine.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
1 upvote
wailsound
By wailsound (8 months ago)

Yes, I remember reading about ball point pens destroying the art of writting.
Sometimes I feel that photography gets lost in the tools and technique.
How can the sharpness of an image make it any more relivent? Some of the worlds most iconic images wouldn't measure up then.

1 upvote
Mrrowe8
By Mrrowe8 (8 months ago)

These are strong images and interesting commentary in all we miss in our travel by train plane or car .. Sadly you sad sacks can't see beyond the outdated,stale ideas of what a "photograph " should be .. Before impressionistic paintings where considered "ART" they where laughed at and said it wasn't painting .. Now of coarse that's a view has changed and until photography is thought about less about process it will never be seen as a bigger artistic medium then it is ..

0 upvotes
arhmatic
By arhmatic (8 months ago)

No, just no!

1 upvote
wailsound
By wailsound (8 months ago)

Art is subjective , like it hate it put a set of rules onto it doesn't change the fact it's art.

0 upvotes
Mike L Renner
By Mike L Renner (8 months ago)

First time commenter. After years of reading mostly negative comments on this site, I have created an account just to say enough is enough. You people, as a whole, sound defensive, judgmental, angry, and petty, not to mention that through these comments you expose what seems to be a deep rooted envy over others successes. Let the artist have his moment in the sun.

13 upvotes
JWest
By JWest (8 months ago)

Don't be so negative!

2 upvotes
ChrisSwiss
By ChrisSwiss (8 months ago)

Excuse me Sir, but your comment is of the same kind as all the comments you are complaining about, only with a different target. To use your words: "let the commenters have their moment in the forum" (maybe it is the only "moment" they have?). By the way, not all of the comments are judgmental, angry etc.

5 upvotes
Thatcannonguy
By Thatcannonguy (8 months ago)

Yes, i agree. Let the artist have his moment in the sun. But... Preferably solitary and let him keep his 'art' for himself.

1 upvote
Tan68
By Tan68 (8 months ago)

I appreciate you leaving out the much overused 'hater' word.

0 upvotes
m3
By m3 (8 months ago)

If only he were an artist ...

1 upvote
InTheMist
By InTheMist (8 months ago)

I take a LOT of pictures from the train.

I can respect the artist's love of the style, but I just don't like these shots at all.

1 upvote
stevevelvia50
By stevevelvia50 (8 months ago)

I think some folks here are missing the point. The maker is demonstrating a useful technique for creative photography which can be expanded upon for all kinds of subjects. There is no debate here, motion in photography is recognized and has been attempted by some of the worlds greatest photographic artists since the fifties, Art Wolfe, Jay Maisel, Ernst Haas, Freeman Patterson.. the list goes on. The negative comments here are from the ill-informed.

4 upvotes
m3
By m3 (8 months ago)

Ill-informed? I very much doubt that Maisel and Haas had to shoot over 9,000 medium-format images to get a handful of them to fool some pen-pusher in a so-called culture department to get them out to the public.

0 upvotes
Musicjohn
By Musicjohn (8 months ago)

Fail, fail, FAIL !

And some have the guts to call this art?

2 upvotes
Scripps23
By Scripps23 (8 months ago)

Take my name off the list for buying these prints.

3 upvotes
wkay
By wkay (8 months ago)

This is garbage, take a video instead. Just looks like someone hung a shade screen in front of the camera.

1 upvote
doady
By doady (8 months ago)

I like impressionist techniques in photography. I enjoy the vague, dreamlike quality of these photos. I have seen other photography of this type and I have tried to do something similar for my own photos in the past, using various techniques, without much success, tbh. I think motion blur in particular is a underutilized element in photography. It is something I will make an effort to experiment more with for my future photos.

1 upvote
washyshots
By washyshots (8 months ago)

I appreciate these 'art' images a lot but agree that DP Review is probably not the best platform for their appreciation by photographers who attempt to always capture photographic truth or realism (a huge complex debate in its own right). Again. the 'blurred' aesthetic has been done to death (even by myself I'm afraid). Ori Gersht is perhaps the best known for his 'train series' whilst retracing a journey on a train to Auschwitz.

0 upvotes
whyamihere
By whyamihere (8 months ago)

As an artist of different mediums:

If you see no artistic value in these images, then you are not truly an artist.

If you consider yourself an artist but still feel they have no value, then I suggest broadening your narrow-minded definition of art to include just about anything and everything, including these photos.

If you have taken photos like these and deleted them, then they were simply not appealing to you. Artistic expression is an extension of emotion. Always has been, always will be. You can't hate on someone for finding an emotional quality that resonates with them in these photos.

If you see these photos and don't like them but are still willing to call them pieces of art, that is understandable. I see art all the time that I don't like or don't understand, but I never tell someone that it's not art.

Grumble all you like about how how someone may have achieved popularity with these photos. Popularity is usually not the goal of most artists. Expression is.

14 upvotes
washyshots
By washyshots (8 months ago)

It's not what is represented but how - I agree with you.

0 upvotes
icexe
By icexe (8 months ago)

My feeling is that "art" should at least demonstrate some unique or groundbreaking skill or technique. I don't find these images to be any of those. If anyone can reproduce these mundane images without much effort (and anyone can, and have), then it's value as art comes into question in my view.

5 upvotes
Lukino
By Lukino (8 months ago)

Amazing how on a website that incarnate the top of today's visual technology, people has a concept of art still stuck in the middle age. Art from people like Warhol or Fontana have almost no technical value, everybody can reproduce their pieces with little skill. Yet, those people shaped the world of today as you know it.

1 upvote
InTheMist
By InTheMist (8 months ago)

I just don't like them.

0 upvotes
icexe
By icexe (8 months ago)

What Warhol did was groundbreaking and unique at the time, and as I stated, it's that kind of talent that helps make something art. Blurry images from a moving vehicle is something millions of people do everyday, there is nothing groundbreaking or unique about it.

Now show me some new way of doing this that creates a unique new perspective or that captures the imagination and I'd be interested, but as it is now these look exactly like hundreds of bad vacation pictures that I have piled away in boxes or on my computer.

0 upvotes
washyshots
By washyshots (8 months ago)

"Art from people like Warhol or Fontana have almost no technical value"

Seriously, they have no technical value ? Can't believe that you believe that.

0 upvotes
meanwhile
By meanwhile (8 months ago)

"but as it is now these look exactly like hundreds of bad vacation pictures that I have piled away in boxes or on my computer"

Can you please put together a set so we can see them?

0 upvotes
KariIceland
By KariIceland (8 months ago)

Landscape? no, surreal art? no, bad images? yes.

1 upvote
icexe
By icexe (8 months ago)

I'm sorry, but this looks just like the stuff my daughter took while playing with my camera on our road trip when she was 8 years old.

Watching my daughter play with the camera was the interesting part, not the images themselves, which have no artistic or technical merit whatsoever, just like these images. I deleted most of them.

Let's just stop fooling ourselves and just call this what it is: A collection of blurry, boring images that anyone could take. There's no new artistic or technical ground being broken here.

3 upvotes
meanwhile
By meanwhile (8 months ago)

"I'm sorry, but this looks just like the stuff my daughter took while playing with my camera on our road trip when she was 8 years old."

So they evoked for you a memory of your 8 year old daughter and a connection between you, but they have no value?

Comment edited 10 seconds after posting
1 upvote
icexe
By icexe (8 months ago)

Like I said, watching her play with the camera was the interesting part, the images themselves were honestly not very interesting. The picture I took of her playing with the camera was worth keeping though.

0 upvotes
meanwhile
By meanwhile (8 months ago)

And you likely wouldn't have thought of that today without seeing these images. Isn't reliving that memory of some worth?

0 upvotes
meanwhile
By meanwhile (8 months ago)

My point is - even though you don't see any merit in these images, you don't like them, and you don't value them, they managed to be evocative, to create connections to things in your life, to relive fond memories of trips with your family, to evaluate the worth of the images created, to make you think about things you otherwise wouldn't have. This is one of the jobs of art, so even though you disagree that it is art on grounds of merit, your reaction to it betrays you.

4 upvotes
MtOlympus
By MtOlympus (8 months ago)

Just because it can be done, doesn't mean that it should be done. Statistically most experiments are failures, and while there may be a benefit to doing them, they don't have to be shared.

5 upvotes
huyzer
By huyzer (8 months ago)

I like it!
EDIT: I can't just say this and let it be, seeing as how much negative feedback there is. I, myself, am not into modern "art", with all that paint spatter, squares of color, blends of two colors, etc.

But in this case, I think it's a nice experiment, to play with the blur. I like the contrast it creates between the sharpness of the subjects in the background, and the veil of soft blur in the foreground. I applaud this photographer for trying it out.

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
rpm40
By rpm40 (8 months ago)

Looks like crap to me.

7 upvotes
Paul_B Midlands UK
By Paul_B Midlands UK (8 months ago)

Be brave ... Upload a series of your photos for the vultures to rip apart.

4 upvotes
celipessoa1971
By celipessoa1971 (8 months ago)

Its brain is not at the good speed.

0 upvotes
oselimg
By oselimg (8 months ago)

Dpreview is a technical information source. With the latest "collection of art" this has been proven once again.

Comment edited 31 seconds after posting
3 upvotes
Total comments: 160
12