Mistaken Landscapes


Mistaken Landscapes, 2021
Magazine, 8.5×11 in, 200 pages

The images comprising Mistaken Landscapes were made with an iPhone while traveling on Shinkansen bullet trains in Japan between 2014 and 2020.

High Dynamic Range, or HDR, has been an option on iPhones since the model 4 came out in 2010. When HDR is enabled, the camera takes three images in quick succession each time you press the shutter button—one underexposed, one at the correct exposure, and one overexposed. The three different exposures are then combined, yielding a single image with an increased dynamic range of color and contrast.

Although the three HDR exposures are made almost instantaneously, the Shinkansen travels at speeds up to 300 km/h (186 mph); consequently, the view out the window shifts during the image-making process. The lag time between the first and last exposure, although brief, causes inaccurate alignment of imagery with areas of misregistration appearing as a featureless, flat, gray tonality.

As viewed from a speeding Shinkansen, the landscape streaking by already appears unreal; however, the slippage generated by the HDR shifting pushes the images into territory bordering on abstract and hallucinatory. This selection, pulled from 11,417 images, manifests a range of scenes from urban to rural and a spectrum of misregistration from subtle to severe.