For the most part, a natural landscape will always make a pretty picture. Cities, on the other hand, are filled with grit, haphazard construction, and chaos, often requiring a trained eye to make those urban scenes beautiful. Intrepid Australian photographer Ben Thomas accomplished precisely that in his series Chroma. While the shots of London, Paris, Hong Kong, and Shanghai all appear to be from the same idyllic Wes Anderson-esque setting, their sun-soaked and color-saturated aesthetic comes courtesy of Photoshop and Lightroom.
Thomas describes his work to date as “studies of the places we live,” and calls Chroma “a further deconstruction of cities and urban areas with a primary focus of the use of color and flatness.” His lens highlights the gorgeous geometry of buildings, turns ordinary cityscapes into painterly compositions, and toys with the scale of structures.
“As a photographer, my eye is definitely drawn to geometry and the play of color,” he says. “I really enjoy studying these particular aspects in our surroundings, whether grand or very simple.”
Urban areas can feel alienating, but Chroma makes them seem warm and welcoming—a manipulative trick commonly deployed by color correctors. In contrast, Thomas’s Anti-Chroma project is a brooding view of the same locations. Another series, Cityshrinker, which Thomas shot with a tilt-shift camera, uses depth of field to toy with our perception of what’s real and what’s not.
“I think the cities and places we are surrounded by can sometimes present as overly complex and somewhat daunting,” he says. “I want to show the inherent beauty that exists when you start breaking down these intricate scenes to their most simple components.”
Perhaps the images will make you perceive your own city in a new light.
“I really do hope that after seeing these images, people are inspired to see their surroundings differently,” Thomas says. “To enjoy the mundane beauty around them.”