August Sander effect?

Started 3 days ago | Questions thread
MrBrightSide Contributing Member • Posts: 541
It’s The Excellent Photographer Effect

Has little to do with lenses or the 5x7 glass plate, you could take the same picture today on a Nikkormat with a film like Pan-X and a suitably unique lens. The only real technical issues that would be hard to replicate are that the emulsions of the time tended to render the sky as white, and halation was very hard to eliminate.

What you are seeing is the result of a great photographer using time-tested art techniques to create the illusion of a three dimensional space. This is really just a landscape shot with a man as the foreground subject instead of a Bristlecone pine.

To begin with the main subject is proportionally much larger and darker than anything else in the frame, so by its nature he stands out. The area of negative space around the subject is quite enormous, and Sander has chosen a location and time of day so that the background displays pronounced aerial perspective. Planning, in other words.

Other factors: the line of the buildings has a very clearly defined vanishing point, the subject is static in the frame which is why he appears to be floating, what looks like dodging around his head, very clear gap between in and out of focus, even the man’s fixed gaze and stern expression helps lift him away from the rest of the picture.

I think this version is a bit cropped from left and bottom


This effect was relatively common in the early days of photography and was probably due to the characteristics of glass plate negatives together with the way the scene was lit. The smoky and polluted atmosphere present in many towns and cities a century ago often contributed to the feeling of depth in photographs. The air is generally much cleaner today, which is not always an advantage to the photographer!

Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum PPrevious NNext WNext unread UUpvote SSubscribe RReply QQuote BBookmark MMy threads
Color scheme? Blue / Yellow