Todd Antony documents “Dekotora” (デコトラ)
Renowned advertising photographer, Todd Antony spoke to Phase One about his latest project documenting sub-cultures around the world. His most recent series took him to Japan with the XF IQ3 100MP Trichromatic Camera System where he documented the lavishly decorated trucks, known as Dekotora. These ornate, dazzling vehicles were perfect subjects for the new Trichromatic Digital Back to capture this fascinating subculture’s wow factor in astonishingly accurate color.
What is Dekotora (デコトラ)?
“I’ve been researching various subcultures all over the world, but Japan just seemed like a great place to start the project as it is rife with different subcultures. The moment I came across ‘Dekotora,’ it jumped out at me, and I thought I have to go and shoot that. The Japanese word ‘Dekotora’ is an abbreviation for ‘decoration truck.’ The culture itself all stems from a 1975 series of ten movies called Torakku Yarō̄ (Truck Guys) that featured a trucker who drove his garishly decorated truck all over Japan. The series was a big hit, and ‘Dekotora’ popularity swept the country.”
“The Japanese word ‘Dekotora’ is an abbreviation for ‘decoration truck.’”
The impact of color in photography and storytelling
“Colour contributes a massive amount of emotional impact to my photography. Obviously light itself is the very thing photography depends on to exist, and the quality and tone of that light are of the utmost importance. But the colour of that light comes in a close second. A colour, or in most cases a combination of colours, has the power to evoke an emotional response in a viewer, and on occasion tell its part of the story in an image. It’s why as humans we react so emotionally to an amazing sunrise or sunset as the sky that wraps around us changes through a multitude of hues as it goes down.
There’s been a fairly noticeable shift in advertising photography over the last couple of years towards ‘real’ stories and narratives behind ads and the images associated with them. A development like the Trichromatic Digital Back can only help contribute to this even more, which is a very positive thing. Coming back to the office after a shoot with a hard drive full of images that are true in colour can only be a good thing in the editing process as well, giving you the perfect platform to start from, and potentially even saving time in front of the computer.”
“A colour, or in most cases a combination of colours, has the power to evoke an emotional response in a viewer, and on occasion tell its part of the story in an image”
Photographing mixed light sources and tricky subjects
“When I used the Trichromatic, the most obvious thing that jumped out initially was that straight out of the box, the colour balance and colour values just felt instantly accurate and correct, and in line with the scene I was seeing in front of me. Having that true colour raw base image to begin with is a fantastic asset. This was a very tricky subject with the numerous mixed light sources we were using in each scene, all with different colour temperature values and a very large dynamic range. One of the portrait images had the truck interior covered in a dark black velvet, which sucks up light like a sponge. The shadow areas couldn’t have gotten any darker. The main light in the truck interior was a tungsten chandelier on the ceiling. That we managed to get detail/information at both ends of the scale was a minor miracle. I had an LED light panel hiding behind one of the seats and a number of gelled flash heads coming through the windows. There was potential for some very weird colour banding issues to occur as the various surfaces within the vehicle (everything from metal to skin to velvet) transitioned from one light source and colour temperature to another. But the Trichromatic back didn’t even blink.”
“When I used the Trichromatic, the most obvious thing that jumped out initially was that straight out of the box, the colour balance and colour values just felt instantly accurate and correct, and in line with the scene I was seeing in front of me”
Opening up new photographic possibilities
“Over the past number of years, there have been a lot of technical developments in the digital field, many of which have focused on the megapixel race. That most definitely has its place, but the Trichromatic technology seems like the first development in a very long time that focuses on one of the true basics of photography: colour. It feels a little like getting back to the grassroots of photography, which is refreshing.”
There has always been a degree of limitation when trying to reproduce very bright, highly saturated colours on digital cameras up until now. Details often tend to be lost at the higher end, and they go out of gamut quite quickly. The Trichromatic back handled the external images of the Dekotora trucks with aplomb, managing to capture the detail and colour fidelity of the truck lights, even with them shining straight into the lens.
The Trichromatic Digital Back is most definitely in a unique position. It’s ability to produce such consistent, accurate colour straight out of the box before even adjusting a slider in Capture One, puts it in a class of its own.”
“The Trichromatic technology seems like the first development in a very long time that focuses on one of the true basics of photography: colour. It feels a little like getting back to the grassroots of photography, which is refreshing.”
Todd Antony shot the Dekotora series using the XF IQ3 100MP Trichromatic Camera System and Schneider Kreuznach 55mm LS f/2.8 lens.
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