Portfolio: Ben Thomas reveals why Tokyo is perfectly suited to tilt-shift photography


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The Independent Culture

Tokyo, as Ben Thomas notes, is anything but miniature. A vast urban sprawl, it is spread across 845 square miles, and is the most populous metropolitan area in the world.

Yet any visitor to the Japanese capital cannot help but note that it is a city driven by detail, from the clockwork precision of its public-transport system to the complexities of angle at which one should bow in greeting. Which is why, explains Thomas, "Tokyo is perfectly suited to tilt-shift photography."

The technique brings into focus the slightest elements which might otherwise be lost to the background, allowing images to take on the look of a diorama and giving the impression of toys in a miniature setting. Which, again, is a perfect fit for the metropolis: "I don't know too many places," says the 32-year-old Australian, "that have 10m-tall statues of Gundam robots [based on the popular anime series] standing in public places."

Thomas first visited Tokyo in 2008 and was so enamoured with the culture that he has returned on an almost-annual basis, allowing him to showcase the city's many and varied sights, from the hectic fish market at Tsukiji to the tranquillity of the majestic Meiji Shrine.

Pictured here, an intersection at Shibuya, famous for its fashion department stores and nightlife. "The colours and patterns on the road immediately caught me," says Thomas. "I pulled the camera to my eye to see a couple of taxis [in yellow] driving past. It was about 4pm, and the light was fantastic."

'Tiny Tokyo: the Big City Made Mini' (£9, Chronicle) is published on Tuesday. For more: benthomas.net.au