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This image below is called the Funkturm Berlin (Berlin Radio Tower) and is taken by László Moholy-Nagy.

I have done so research but haven't found much.

I was wanting to know the techniques used in this photo as well as what you guys think about the image.

enter image description here

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    Can you describe "the technique"? What about this photo is interesting to you or that you want to re-create? – OnBreak. Mar 11 at 5:31
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    He's used B+W photo obviously, He has a high viewpoint looking down from the tower creating to what I think is a small too big juxtaposition. There is geomtrical element going on with the tower itself and the shadow on the ground give me a sense of how to dominate the tower is. – mikehasaquestion Mar 11 at 5:48
  • Welcome to the site. Please be aware that open and broad questions that revolve around opinion are the 3 things that do only work poorly in a question/answer format. photo.stackexchange.com/help/dont-ask – Kai Mattern Mar 11 at 6:28
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    For whatever minor leftover scraping it's worth, the three close votes and gripping here are exactly why I've stepped back from this site. It's unfortunate that a site ostensibly about photography questions flips out so hard whenever it is lucky enough to get a question that's actually about... photography. – Please Read My Profile Mar 12 at 4:16
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    @PleaseReadMyProfile I didn't vote to close but I still think OP should clarify what they are looking to get out of this question. – OnBreak. Mar 12 at 20:31
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+500

Technique

As other answers have already pointed out, the photograph employs an unusual perspective. This is accentuated by its subject matter: the Funkturm is a particularly slender structure with a relatively narrow base, which contributes to the almost vertigo-inducing perspectival effect. Contributing to this "off" feeling is also the fact that very few if any lines in the subject matter are parallel with the edges of the frame.

The photograph was taken in 1928. As other answers have already pointed out, Moholy-Nagy may have used a camera-on-a-stick approach or simply rotated the print. The former approach would have been greatly facilitated by the use of a small camera, and given that the Leica I had been introduced in 1925, one might assume Moholy-Nagy employed a 35mm camera for this acrobatic task. However, according to MOMA, the camera used was an Ernemann 6x9 (perhaps one of these or these) – so, medium format, and in all likelihood not a wide-angle lens. The film used was, obviously, black and white.

There are various (silver gelatin) prints of this photograph in different museums around the world. Some of the digital reproductions suggest chemical toning such as sepia, but some don't.

Meaning

To set the photograph in a reasonable context of interpretation, it is useful to consider the following quote, attributed to Moholy-Nagy in the George Eastman House Collection History of Photography (Taschen Bibliotheca Universalis, p. 517):

The reality of our century is technology: the invention, construction, and maintenance of machines. To be a user of machines is to be of the spirit of this century. Machines have replaced the transcendental spiritualism of past eras.

The Funkturm is, in a very real sense, a machine, and a construction which requires maintenance. Moholy-Nagy's quote may then be read as an exhortation to turn away from traditional aesthetics when "reading" the photograph: the aesthetics of past eras are useless, since they are of the wrong spirit. What we have here is a confluence of shapes, and arguably little of the photo makes sense, outside a purely abstract, formal frame of reference, unless one already knows what the Funkturm looks like from more conventional angles. What are the little shapes on the ground? (They turn out to be café tables, chairs and parasols – but they might as well be some unidentifiable radio tower apparatus, or little aeroplanes and petrol tanks, or a million other things, from this perspective.) Why do some of the shadows appear broken, and some appear to appear from nowhere? (Because what on first sight looks like the ground, at the "base" of the tower, is actually the roof of the restaurant at 52 metres – but this is impossible to read from the photo alone.)

Thanks to this perspective play, it is impossible to take the photograph as a literal, realist recording of the architectural structure. Ironically, the chosen high perspective flattens the structure into a mess of shapes, both linear and circular. This invites reading the photograph, as one earlier answer has suggested, the way a Bauhaus painting might be read. But a comparison is also invited with the photogram, a purposely abstract technique Moholy-Nagy also used to great effect.

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László Moholy-Nagy:

Hungarian artist (born László Weisz; July 20, 1895 – November 24, 1946) was a Hungarian painter and photographer as well as a professor in the Bauhaus school (wikipedia).

Also present at this influential German Art School was Wassily Kandinsky and the first thing that struck me about the picture was the way the composition echoed some of Kandinsky's paintings. Kandinsky was an abstract artist and tutor at the Bauhaus throughout the 1920's.

Swinging by Wassilly Kandinsky - Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND (3.0 Unported)

See more at the Tate website where many low res images have Creative Commons licensing.

Both would have been influenced by:

Kazimir Severinovich Malevich (February 23 1879 – May 15, 1935) was a Russian avant-garde artist and art theorist, whose pioneering work and writing had a profound influence on the development of non-objective, or abstract art, in the 20th century.(wikipedia)

From the Tate website:

Suprematism

Name given by the Russian artist Kasimir Malevich to the abstract art he developed from 1913 characterised by basic geometric forms, such as circles, squares, lines and rectangles, painted in a limited range of colours.

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He's used B+W photo obviously, He has a high viewpoint looking down from the tower creating to what I think is a small too big juxtaposition. There is geomtrical element going on with the tower itself and the shadow on the ground give me a sense of how to dominate the tower is.

Sure, the image was shot on black and white film, but where do you think that brownish tone came from? It's not simply printed on black and white fiber. But, I'll leave you to work that one out or ask another question.

Honestly, I'm not seeing a heck of a lot interesting here. Homeboy was shooting with a wide angle lens, which have a good amount of depth of field by default. His aperture selection and focal distance probably made use of the hyperfocal distance to get everything looking sharp from front to back.

The perspective is that where he either had the camera on a pole or was himself hanging out over space to the left of the tower. This is a technique that is actually very commonplace in rock climbing photography: (extreme example) https://petapixel.com/2012/10/11/how-to-use-a-ladder-in-rock-climbing-photography/

The point is to get yourself away from the structure so that you can include more of it in the frame, forcing a perspective that makes you feel like you are very far off the ground.

The time of day for the shadow may have been chosen intentionally to create the triangular shape between it and the tower.

I don't know if there is a specific name for this type of shot, but if you wanted to recreate it:

  • Get to the top of something tall
  • Get as far out from the structure as you can get
  • Use a wide angle lens + stopped down.+ hyperfocal distance
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  • Yes, How did he get the brownish tint? he couldn't have used photoshop – mikehasaquestion Mar 11 at 18:01
  • @mikehasaquestion Black and white prints last a good long time but other processes came about to either change the tone of the image and/or provide additional archival stability. Sepia toning was and is popular, though other methods also exist: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photographic_print_toning – OnBreak. Mar 11 at 18:56
  • @mikehasaquestion the finished black and white print is soaked in a bleach that converts the metallic silver (what you see as black and shades of grey) back into silver halide (which you cannot see. The image "disappears"). Then, one soaks the image in the toner which converts the silver to silver sulfide, which you can see and which has a warmer, browner color than metallic silver. – OnBreak. Mar 11 at 18:59
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    @mikehasaquestion You no doubt have sepia toned in Photoshop. Most of what can be done in PS came from processes used in the darkroom. The difference being that the darkroom version usually took hours, days, weeks, or longer while PS processes can be done almost instantly in comparison. – OnBreak. Mar 11 at 19:01
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    @PleaseReadMyProfile I was under the impression OP was after the technique in shooting so as to achieve similar results today. If the history is of value to OP, then I'll add it in. Hell, might anyway when I've got a moment. – OnBreak. Mar 12 at 20:30
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We could guess how the photographer processed this image. My guess would be sepia toning. It looks like a normal lens was used as thier is little distortion and he held the camera out on a stick or as far as he could reach. The shot does not look planned or composed to me. I strongly believe this image is turned 90 degrees to give the illusion of hovering. Turn the image clockwise and you'll have the actual view from the tower.

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  • "thier" should be "there" I tried to fix it, but it was too short of an edit to be allowable. – Eric Shain Mar 17 at 0:58
  • It's a typo. There are more important things to worry about. – Robert Allen Kautz Mar 20 at 21:09
  • And you could have fixed it faster than replying to me. – Eric Shain Mar 20 at 21:59

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