Trumpets and tilt shift lenses

Recently I’ve been thinking about scale and how we  interpret size and distance. This came about because of what I see as the resurgence of tilt shift lenses, particularly contemporary digital SLRs that can shoot HD video. I can remember, as a camera assistant in the film business, when the tilt shift lenses and adaptors like  Clairmont Camera’s tilt and shift system became really popular in the late nineties as creative tools. Now,  the effect is back and the most recent example I’ve seen is a stop motion film I saw on YouTube or something,  where the filmmaker used tilt shift lenses to  make the urban scenes  look like miniatures or models. This made me  wonder about the “visual cues” of  this effect, cues that make us think we are looking at something small when in fact we are looking at something full-sized. Maybe it has to do with the limited depth of field we are used to seeing in  “miniature” photographs. Whenever we see a photograph of say, a model train layout taken at or near ground level, there is a pronounced loss of depth of field due to focal length, focal distance, and object size. We are used to that. And that gives us our visual cue that what we are looking at is small. But interestingly,  when we see a photograph of a “normal” sized landscape exhibiting those same shallow depth properties ( by using tilt and shift lenses for example) our brain unconsciously tells us we are looking at something small. Of course this is mostly academic, but I really do like being optically surprised once in a while. I like exploring scale and proportion in my work  by manipulating the unspoken and unconscious visual cues we use to navigate through our environment . In this same realm, I’m fascinated by really small things and really big things. I always will stop to see another Muffler Man in whatever town we are travelling through and I obsessively collect little versions of things like this tiny, brass, Bb trumpet. Eventhough I have a full sized working version of this trumpet in my studio, I  like the one below almost as much!

Tiny Trumpet

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