New York landmarks transported to the wilderness
The white curves of New York’s Guggenheim Museum stand out against a burnt red landscape. The light blue column of the United Nations headquarters is set against a yellow sand dune, rather than the winding parkway of FDR Drive.
These two images are part of “Misplaced,” a series by New York-based digital designer Anton Repponen that sees the city’s buildings — both landmarks and lesser-known sites — superimposed onto his own travel photos, including desolate scenes from a desert, a meadow of pink flowers and a rocky valley.
“I started with buildings (in New York City) that people knew first,” Repponen said in a phone interview. “And then it was paying homage to architects I really like.”
To create the images, he first photographed the buildings with a wide lens camera. He shot each one in chunks so as to avoid any distortion in the final images. (“The streets are quite narrow in New York and it’s quite impossible to capture buildings so that you see the whole thing,” he explained.)
He then edited them together in Photoshop, creating a single composite from multiple images.
“The Cooper Union building was eight images placed together, and there was a lot of manual work to redraw and to reconstruct to the first floor because the area was always under construction,” he said. “It was impossible to capture the building without any cranes or workers. It was a lot of intensive labor.”
Once he was happy with the buildings, he began stripping away their surroundings, leaving the projects on a white background. Yellow cabs, pedestrians and scaffolding have been edited out, leaving a flat visual of each structure, free of its urban surroundings.
“When I was cleaning it up (the New Museum), I got to the point where I cleaned up all of the other buildings to the left and to the right — the entire environment,” Repponen said. “The building didn’t look realistic at it. It looked taken out of context. It just doesn’t look natural.”
It was at this moment that Repponen decided to “misplace” the structures in natural settings.
“I dropped a volcano image behind, and started cleaning and adding more shadows, and making sure the sunlight matched (with the other photograph of the building),” he said.
Poised together, the metropolitan buildings and natural scenery emphasize their contrasting beauties — the former’s planned elegance and the latter’s organic allure.
“It is the buildings that we all know, which are put out of context and turned into a whole other story,” he concluded. “Now it’s something different.”