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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
Tan68
By Tan68 (8 months ago)

These pictures do capture the feel of crossing the Bernina Pass. He has a lovely place to play with tight switchbacks.

It is obvious he is playing with effect that causes things close to appear to pass faster than things farther away. This has to do with angular motion or moment or who knows.

The first image of the train on the pullout really is nice. Long shutter remove much of the train so it is possible to see through it to the hill in the distance. Just as long exposures are used to 'remove' people from landmarks. I remember looking through trains just like this. Perhaps it is a 'had to be there' thing.

My favorite is the last. I think the trees in the background need a little more definition (hard to tell w/ small image).

If he is reading, I might recommend using bracketing with 1/3 stop increments and Tv shift to achieve the brackets. With careful base exposure in RAW, the 'over' & 'under' exposed images should be recoverable with a nice selection of shutter effect.

4 upvotes
StrokerAce23
By StrokerAce23 (8 months ago)

Would love to see him do a retrospective on lens cap photos.

I imagine he could capture the subtle nuance in the depths of black one can achieve with the different brands over the decades.

5 upvotes
Tan68
By Tan68 (8 months ago)

I think you would be surprised at the body of work that can be developed.

Getting hung up on 'brands' is a mistake made by many new to the genre. The art is in the equipment itself. 'Brand' is for pretentious people.

Different effects are achieved by using either a side- or center- pinch lens cap. The limits are defined only by others.

Push on lens caps are used by the fringe. These guys really are their own little subset. Most lens cap artists consider push cap photographers to be simply mocking the whole movement.

7 upvotes
babalu
By babalu (8 months ago)

In the celulloid era, an additional trick was to shoot without film, which allowed you to take the lens cap off.

6 upvotes
AbrasiveReducer
By AbrasiveReducer (8 months ago)

I point my camera out the window of planes all the time. Julianne at Adobe did a whole book on that. I think these would be more interesting if we still had horizontally travelling shutters. Then again, maybe not.

0 upvotes
umur
By umur (8 months ago)

Really?????????

I understand the difference between art and photography, and the overlap (i think). What I don't understand is why Dpreview admin feel this deserves a mention when there are millions of people out there churning out real photos every day!

Ps. I also don't get the recent love on this site for instagram.
Call me a hater if you want :(

5 upvotes
attomole
By attomole (8 months ago)

I guess it to bring something in a bit challenging, I don't like this stuff, but to many photographers feel there cant be good photography without faultless fidelity . thats a load of rubbish as well. Photography is art as well as craft i think we get to hung up on the latter.

4 upvotes
oselimg
By oselimg (8 months ago)

@umur...I don't have any information on the subject but if instagram is linked to google or amazon the recent love of instagram thus explained.

1 upvote
b craw
By b craw (8 months ago)

Your comment begs the question: what is a "real" photograph? Is it only those which observe technical and/or aesthetic conventions? Not liking the work, criticizing it - that is fair game. But using a problematic term such as "real photography" is unfortunate.

0 upvotes
jon404
By jon404 (8 months ago)

Rich kid with a Leica.
Could also put it on self-timer and flush it down a toilet, with equally fascinating results.

7 upvotes
andyvanzz
By andyvanzz (8 months ago)

Hope the guy became an artist not because of this.

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

If you use $25.000 camera to take blurry pictures then it's called art.

9 upvotes
wjan
By wjan (8 months ago)

About a half year ago making my daily train trips to work I have started to shot landscapes out of the train window with a smartphone and post them in Instagram. It is very amusing to see how the same idea is coming into the mind of someone else and to compare results. I have shot somewhere about 5000 pictures during that time. Of course, most of them were just useless crap and were deleted. But the remaining I like a lot. You can check them out here: http://instagram.com/wwwwwwwj#

0 upvotes
phipop
By phipop (8 months ago)

very good pictures Wolfgang!
i like them a lot! much more than the ones with the S2..
thanks

0 upvotes
Pap38
By Pap38 (8 months ago)

Just another individual attempting to redefine “Art” and hoping to gain an audience. Boring!
Pap

3 upvotes
phipop
By phipop (8 months ago)

il like this one better
http://www.phipop.com/photo/CanadaNY/photo/foto3.html
made with nikon fm 50mm serie E.
but i would like to have a s2 too.
thank you
philippe

0 upvotes
phipop
By phipop (8 months ago)

actually i like the two firsts ones!!

0 upvotes
CeleryBeats
By CeleryBeats (8 months ago)

I did something similar a while back! But more with a panning like approach. Bit harder to nail. You can check it on my website if you like

jeroenselderslaghs.be

7 upvotes
hydraulix
By hydraulix (8 months ago)

To be honest, I like your work better. Terrific job!

0 upvotes
huyzer
By huyzer (8 months ago)

Those are some pretty cool images and effects, with the panning.

0 upvotes
babalu
By babalu (8 months ago)

Your images are several magnitude orders above Rolf Sachs' . You should contact DPR with them .

0 upvotes
The Andy G
By The Andy G (8 months ago)

Does anyone remember the film Top Secret?

3 upvotes
Vic Gedris
By Vic Gedris (8 months ago)

I came here to say that too! haha. Unfortunately, can't find that clip on Youtube.

Edit: Ah! Here it is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nC_hu5OMGJk

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
solarider
By solarider (8 months ago)

http://www.youtube.com/channel/HCuFwN-jyhSYQ

0 upvotes
ncsakany
By ncsakany (8 months ago)

Um, no.

2 upvotes
Rafael Edwards 2
By Rafael Edwards 2 (8 months ago)

great to see this article published. "bad pictures" sometimes can be far more interesting than "good pictures". in my experience, the experience of having fun, exploring, learning how to see is much more rewarding than a good technical result. i find myself more and more leaving my gear at home and moving around town with my iphone. http://www.flickr.com/photos/rafa2010/9559873270/

7 upvotes
Badger1952
By Badger1952 (8 months ago)

On the facade of the Uffizi - "all art was modern once" - but these - hmm, best left in the can! Philistine I may be - but the images don't COMMUNICATE anything to me and hence are worthless.

0 upvotes
Ettishole
By Ettishole (8 months ago)

Tricky.

0 upvotes
Paul Janders
By Paul Janders (8 months ago)

Not every photo has to be tack sharp to be a good photo. These particular photos aren't my cup of tea but at least they are a change from the usual "landscape shot out the window" you typically see from people riding trains.

I realize the blur here is intentional but I see too many good photos derided because the photographer missed the focus by a millimeter or two.

2 upvotes
Jogger
By Jogger (8 months ago)

I think most people are put off by the pretentiousness.. presenting it as high-street art, as if blurry photos is some amazing new technique that only this person can do or assuming people even find this appealing.

But, if he can fool people into paying him to do this, then all the power to him.

Comment edited 31 seconds after posting
3 upvotes
Jogger
By Jogger (8 months ago)

calling it art doesnt make it art...

4 upvotes
cgarrard
By cgarrard (8 months ago)

:)

0 upvotes
misolo
By misolo (8 months ago)

Actually, it pretty much does by definition. The question is whether it's good or bad art - whether it is interesting, original, thought provoking, aesthetically pleasing, etc.

8 upvotes
groucher
By groucher (8 months ago)

Misolo - have to disagree. All the definitions of the word 'art' that I can find include words such as 'skill', 'quality' and 'aesthetic'. If it's bad art, it ain't art by definition - these shots are bad.

0 upvotes
misolo
By misolo (8 months ago)

groucher: My dictionary (Oxford American) says "the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power". Creative skill doesn't have to be related to skill of craft, and often isn't. What's beautiful or emotionally powerful to one person can be, and usually is, completely different than what is to another.

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

Misolo, I absolutely agree. Assessing art on the merits of the success in communication and/or resonance and/or level to which it is compelling, and/or aesthetics, etc., etc. can be done - and best if one observes that there is always a degree of subjectiveness to the assessment. As an instructor, I do this and promote an environment for others to do it. But the need to categorically deny someone's claim to making "art" completely escapes me.

1 upvote
Just another Canon shooter
By Just another Canon shooter (8 months ago)

They are very nice, indeed. But ... While the photo industry continues to churn out higher-resolution sensors, the photo industry continues to produce fast lenses with high blur potential. Blur has always been part of photography, motion blur, too. Also, without the sharp background, those photos would lose their appeal.

2 upvotes
CameraLabTester
By CameraLabTester (8 months ago)

Just imagine the sheer thrill of exquisite detail of so much blur using a Leica S2!

The mass amount of blur entrapped into each file is so humongous compared to a puny full frame DSLR!

Never before in the history of digital photography has so much blur been captured and archived with over 15,000 blurry medium format files on storage!

This takes blur to a new level.

Blurry images will never be the same again.

.

8 upvotes
stevens37y
By stevens37y (8 months ago)

Once even _color_ photography was not accepted at all as art. You're getting used to the blur too. Sharpness is boring.

2 upvotes
agentul
By agentul (8 months ago)

i shall give up cleaning my lens and filters, then. is this the way to become an artist these days?

1 upvote
veroman
By veroman (8 months ago)

Pseudo art. Sheer fakery.

4 upvotes
Hugo808
By Hugo808 (8 months ago)

I like them, whether I would publish them is another matter....

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

It seems I can't access the BBC article because I'm from the UK...

/puzzled face/

0 upvotes
Pastynator
By Pastynator (8 months ago)

Yeh me too. I've had that a few times. Nice to know the bbc is spending the license fee wisely eh.
It also brings up troubling ideas that the bbc is painting a different picture of things for people outside the UK.

0 upvotes
Lea5
By Lea5 (8 months ago)

Very creative and inspirational. I like them.

To the rest who think thats crap, go and shoot your sunday cat, or stitch your boring landscapes. ;-)

8 upvotes
cgarrard
By cgarrard (8 months ago)

As soon as you said "boring landscapes" I dismissed the first part completely.

1 upvote
moimoi
By moimoi (8 months ago)

Unappealing to the eyes.

1 upvote
Lawrencew
By Lawrencew (8 months ago)

pretentious crap

2 upvotes
Rupert Bottomsworth
By Rupert Bottomsworth (8 months ago)

I usually delete these when I take them. Image stabilisation clearly hasn't done it's job, has it?

1 upvote
stevens37y
By stevens37y (8 months ago)

It has nothing to do with the image stabi.

1 upvote
Earthrise
By Earthrise (8 months ago)

Being doing blurred images for years, e.g. Streetspirits on http://www.alanhumphris.com/ But do I get a dpreview mention? :-)

10 upvotes
blohum
By blohum (8 months ago)

Streetspirits... Fade Out... I see what you did there! :)

1 upvote
Earthrise
By Earthrise (8 months ago)

:-) good spot. Yep, usually have one of their songs going round my head when taking these types of pics

1 upvote
moimoi
By moimoi (8 months ago)

No you are not a known artist, therefore dpreview can care less about you...

Just kidding, the streetspirits series looks interesting. The first one of the whole series is my favorite. Mostly because I can distinguish the two silhouettes easily, and the background is rather uniform. Well done. Have you tried to use B/W for some of those shots?

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 35 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
Earthrise
By Earthrise (8 months ago)

Hi, thank you. I have tried some of these in b/w. I usually have the camera set to jpeg b/w and the use the raw, but for me they don't work as well b/w. Probably not enough textures or contrast between colours.

0 upvotes
AntonyVance
By AntonyVance (8 months ago)

I went though your gallery. Very good collection. I really liked streetsprits.

1 upvote
Earthrise
By Earthrise (8 months ago)

Hi, thank you, very much appreciated. I particularly enjoy taking the streetspirits ones, maybe that comes through?

0 upvotes
stevens37y
By stevens37y (8 months ago)

You should.

1 upvote
CameraLabTester
By CameraLabTester (8 months ago)

Alan, you are in danger of generating more positive postings than this article.

Be thankful there is a Hide Replies feature, so the site owners and the articles won't lose face.

Streetspirits was very nice.

.

2 upvotes
BobYIL
By BobYIL (8 months ago)

Remarkable pictures Earthrise, enjoyed them far more than the ones here. BTW, the best "blurry" pictures I have seen were by Ernst Haas. Regards.

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

Hi,

thanks to you both, much appreciated. Must be a slow news day :-)

Yes, Haas's images are great, also really like the work of Thomas Joshua Cooper

0 upvotes
ryan2007
By ryan2007 (8 months ago)

When I squint my eyes they are all in focus all of a sudden.

1 upvote
groucher
By groucher (8 months ago)

We have hundreds of highly talented electronics, mechanical, optical, ergonomic and software engineers putting millions of hours of effort into developing and producing fantastic cameras and this is all that this 'artist' can come up with. Pathetic and very annoying to anyone involved in engineering.

How about giving some credit where it's due DPR by providing articles on the artistry of the people who make our equipment?

0 upvotes
fuego6
By fuego6 (8 months ago)

I agree with my fellow commentators... MEH! Blurry photos over and over just don't do it for me... kinda like painting a small circle on a huge canvas and saying "voila!"... art? Perhaps.. but the same art that thousands of us take all the time because we suck at that moment... moi artiste aussi?

5 upvotes
davidrm
By davidrm (8 months ago)

Oh, he used a Leica S2, so it must be art.....

Leaving aside sarcasm and cheap shots, which given the prentention of this series are all to easy, from an art perspective I don't see much value either. There seems to be no coherent vision, just randomness. And absolutely no oiginality of expression.

Whatever, he's not hurting anyone.

14 upvotes
Erik van den Elsen
By Erik van den Elsen (8 months ago)

Totally agree; you can 'sell' anything as long as you call it 'art'... I wouldn't like to put my name under it.

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

I like the first one, the others not so much. I find art depends a lot on how it is presented: put into a gallery such pictures might give the viewer time to contemplate their own meanings onto them, quickly flashed up on a website will cause most people (especially on this site) to only look at the technical aspects of the pictures.

Also, the trees pictures - surely they are the same image?

2 upvotes
Bluetrain048
By Bluetrain048 (8 months ago)

Have taken hundreds of shots like this, albeit many much more interesting than these, I now see why my attempts were unsuccesful. I'm not an artist, therefore the shots have no credibility, and thus are worthless.

16 upvotes
montoniphotography
By montoniphotography (8 months ago)

When you have no obvious talent, you'd resort to doing stunts like these

0 upvotes
CameraLabTester
By CameraLabTester (8 months ago)

That is remarkable!

My camera generates 24 of those per second on Movie mode!

.

5 upvotes
Dazzer8888
By Dazzer8888 (8 months ago)

i likes!

1 upvote
Marcus Beard
By Marcus Beard (8 months ago)

Fairly interesting but is a good demonstration of the subjective nature of the "art" in photography. I'd have deleted these shots had I taken them!

3 upvotes
MikeInRomsey
By MikeInRomsey (8 months ago)

Yep, in the hands of an 'artist' this is fantastic imagery. For you and me though this is just another blurred image!

Back to the unmade bed.......

5 upvotes
stevevelvia50
By stevevelvia50 (8 months ago)

An interesting blend of relatively sharper background and blurred foreground with lateral movement due to the train of course. You must check out the pioneering work of Ernst Haas http://www.ernst-haas.com, who was doing blur studies in the early fifties. The work here is nice, but far from novel.

4 upvotes
sonnytev
By sonnytev (8 months ago)

haha...seriously! you don't need a train ride in Europe to do this. please...using a Leica S2 is not going to make people like these blurries.

1 upvote
frankmv
By frankmv (8 months ago)

I have to agree with half the readers of this column - this is pure crap. Anyone with a camera can produce similar images while sitting in a moving vehicle. Is it art? I guess that depends on who's viewing it...from my viewpoint, it ain't.

0 upvotes
NahorYigal
By NahorYigal (8 months ago)

I much time photographs a blurred movement and artistic long-lasting creation by the different techniques.
Several examples:
2009/05/11 Fire
http://d-spot.co.il/forum/index.php?showtopic=282811&view=findpost&p=2166915

2012/09/05 Light 1
http://d-spot.co.il/forum/index.php?showtopic=283766&view=findpost&p=2174268

2013/06/26 Train
http://d-spot.co.il/forum/index.php?showtopic=310408&view=findpost&p=2338440

2012/03/08 Walking
http://d-spot.co.il/forum/index.php?showtopic=281339&st=0&p=2155462&#entry2155462

2010/10/11 Wedding
http://d-spot.co.il/forum/index.php?showtopic=275894&st=0&p=2114389&#entry2114389

2011/07/04 High way
http://d-spot.co.il/forum/index.php?showtopic=271294&st=0&p=2080908&#entry2080908

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Total comments: 160
12