Yosigo's minimalist photos - how does he do it?
January 22, 2008 1:47 PM   Subscribe

Really loving the super-wide angle, minimalist photo compositions of yosigo (Jose Javier) on Flickr. How does he do it?

In a number of the photos in this "Somebody is there" set, you can see his distinctive style. The bottom quarter or fifth of the photo has some scenery with/out people and very little activity. The rest of the photo is filled with blurred negative space that appears to be a continuation of the sky or background.

I assume all those photos are taken at wide angle. But how does he achieve the blurred empty backgrounds that fill the top of the photos? Can this be achieved with in-camera composition or is it product of creative Photoshop work? I assume the vignetting in many of the photos is added in the computer but I'm wondering how much of the rest is as well.

BONUS: Can you recommend other photographers who shoot in a minimalist style?
posted by junesix to Media & Arts (14 answers total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
I would guess Photoshop. For an interesting contrast, you might also check out this old post on Vincent Laforet, who has taken some really interesting shots with a tilt-shift lens. That weird miniature effect can be created in post (there is a link to a tutorial in the comments of that thread), and the same masking technique could be used to produce something like the effect in the Yosigo photos.

FANTASTIC find. I look forward to sitting down with his photoset later.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 2:12 PM on January 22, 2008

I don't see any obvious digital post-processing in these photos. The backgrounds are sometimes blurry simply because they are out of focus. I wouldn't be so sure about the vignetting. He uses it selectively, so it may be one of his lenses or he could be shooting with a Holga or Diana.

He appears to shoot film and the square images suggest medium format, although other pictures seem more like 35mm. Probably a mix - most photographers that I know have several cameras. The color tonalities remind me more of film emulsion than digital cameras, but they might be Photoshopped, you just never know.

A minimalist photographer you should look at is Michael Kenna. He is quite successful in the fine arts world. His website has a good online portfolio; I especially like his work in Japan. He has published many books which I've sometimes found at large-chain bookstores like Borders.

A good photography blog updated daily is Conscientious.
posted by conrad53 at 2:27 PM on January 22, 2008

Check out his favorites, there is a bunch on somewhat similar images in there. Whenever I find a really good photog on flickr, I always like to see what they save as favs.

definitely going to check his work out later..
posted by brent_h at 2:37 PM on January 22, 2008

I'm guessing there's some photoshop work in there. If you look at this photo you can see a repeating vertical pattern in the sky on the left-hand side of the image that looks cloned. It becomes more obvious if you reverse the image (ctrl+opt+cmd+8 on mac); you can see that the blue sky has a more organic gradient on the right.
posted by wemayfreeze at 2:47 PM on January 22, 2008

They are quite striking. Dynamic range seems squeezed as in this image where the sky would normally be very bright even in the fog. Someone has already mentioned the vignetting which is pretty consistent and no accident. He also uses a strong but subtle bilateral symmetry in lots of his images which triggers something in our brains (face recognition circuitry?) He also uses razor sharp horizontal and vertical lines to create an inorganic, almost mechanical, scene to contrast with the human subjects.

All this makes me think Photoshop plays a large part just because that would be the easiest way to do most of these effects (cropping, correcting for perspective, vignetting, modifying exposure).

Great find! Beautiful work.
posted by chairface at 2:54 PM on January 22, 2008

Yeah, I think that vignetting is done in post.
posted by wemayfreeze at 3:02 PM on January 22, 2008

Looks like photoshop vignetting to me, although I'm sure there's a lens filter you could buy to achieve a similar effect.
posted by blaneyphoto at 3:47 PM on January 22, 2008

Lots and lots and lots of photoshop. Go back further in the pool and it's pretty glaring.
posted by jedrek at 3:57 PM on January 22, 2008

Here's an edge-enhanced version of the red channel of this picture. It looks like the right side is original, but the left side is leaning pretty hard on the clone tool.
posted by 0xFCAF at 5:12 PM on January 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

Mod note: A few comments removed. This isn't the place for a free-form discussion of photographic purism.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:31 PM on January 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'm not totally sure that he's using as much photoshop as people are saying.

One thing I'm pretty sure he's doing is using a really, really long lens. There is a lot of distance between him and his subjects. He may also be shooting with the lens wide open, which would cause a lot of vignetting. I do see oxfcaf's point about the possible cloning though.
posted by sully75 at 6:01 PM on January 22, 2008

Scott Gruss has a similar study in black and white. Unfortunately, his website is sparse, and there are only a few images online.
posted by Hankins at 8:00 PM on January 22, 2008

You might also appreciate the work of Hiroshi Sugimoto. Especially his Seascapes.
posted by hartsell at 12:40 AM on January 23, 2008

You might like this as well.

I also think it's done in Photoshop.
posted by A! at 3:32 AM on January 23, 2008

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