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How do you make LA look like that?

Italian photographer Olivo Barbieri uses pioneering digital methods in a new book on cityscapes around the world

How do you make LA look like that?

In Olivo Barbieri’s Site Specific, cities take on a strange new hyper-reality. From London to Istanbul, Bangkok and Los Angeles, the Italian photographer turns iconic scenes into graphic novel illustrations, plasticine models or blurry images that shimmer as if in 3D.

The book has been a decade in the making and along the way Barbieri has kept ahead of the latest in photographic cleverness. In 1999, he was an early pioneer of tilt/shift photography – which makes pictures look like plasticine – a technique that has since taken off, so that even Instagram now provides a version of it.

Barbieri has done academic research into photographic lighting, and come up with new digital methods to boost colour saturation and pixellation in his images, as well as ways to Photoshop images to make them look like computer graphics. His most recent innovation has been stripping sections out of his images, drawing on them, and mixing colour and black-and-white. Purists may balk at the digital gimmickry, but it’s a spectacular take on the well-worn “city from the sky” shot.

Site Specific by Olivo Barbieri is out now


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