Lonely Planet Writer

See New York City as a miniature universe in new tilt shift photo-book

A new photo-book has documented the city of New York in a unique and interesting way, transforming it into a miniature universe through the use of tilt-shift photography.

A tilt-shifted scene of New York City.
A tilt-shifted scene of New York City taken from above. Image by Jasper Leonard

Created by Belgian photographer Jasper Leonard, New York resized is published by Lannoo and showcases the Big Apple from above, with aerial shots taken from helicopters, planes, bridges, observatories and the top of buildings, but in a style that is distinct. By using a tilt-shift lens, which includes a piece of rubber that is folded in such a way that certain areas of the images captured lose their characteristic sharpness, and by choosing the correct subjects and perspectives, Jasper was able to make realistic scenes of cityscapes look like miniature models. “Not a single photo was faked. The city simply ran its course and I documented it. This book not only shows New York through photographs, throughout it you will also find some inspirational quotes about the city that were matched with the pictures,” Jasper said.

The process makes realistic scenes look like miniature models without the use of editing.
The process makes realistic scenes look like miniature models. Image by Jasper Leonard

The project saw Jasper taking over thirteen thousand photographs and he tried to cover as many regions as possible for the project, featuring locations such as Coney Island, Brooklyn and Long Island City, while the majority of the images were taken in Manhattan. “Because I need the bird’s eye perspective, some places were harder to cover. I would have liked to have more images of Harlem and Queens, but eventually I was able to get some to put in the book. Shooting from a moving train is very challenging,” Jasper told Lonely Planet Travel News.

Jasper’s interests in tilt-shift photography began in 2010, while he was doing a Master’s thesis called, “Cyclops”, which saw him re-building lenses and camera attachments, creating a range of interesting options such as a selfie lens that incorporated an old soup spoon as well as his own tilt-shifting mount. After that he began an urban photography project, first creating Antwerp resized, which was subsequently published, as well as Belgium resized.

Grand Central Station in New York City.
Grand Central Station in New York City. Image by Jasper Leonard

“For me, the most important things was a nice mix of subjects, as well as the image and light quality. I can fill a book with images of Manhattan’s skyline, but that may get boring quite fast. Having people on the riverside on a Friday evening living the city is what keeps a book like this interesting,” Jasper said.

Jasper's photo-books on New York City, Antwerp and Belgium.
Jasper’s photo-books on New York City, Antwerp and Belgium. Image by Jasper Leonard

More information on Jasper’s photo-books and work is available at his official website.