DIRECTOR AND PHOTOGRAPHER Aaron Hobson was using Google Street View to scout for potential locations to shoot a new film in LA when he realised the site had huge potential for exploring some of the more off-the-beaten-track parts of the world.
Hobson says that after his work scouting for the LA project was over, he began turning his attention towards the more remote places Google Street View cars had been – locations which are all available online to the virtual traveller.
Having grown up in a troubled part of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Hobson himself now lives in a much more isolated rural area of New York state close to the Canadian border an hour from any small city and told TheJournal.ie that these remote and melancholy locations form part of a wider five-year project entitled Cinemascapes.
Hobson describes Cinemascapes as an “intimate self-portrait series that showed images of isolation, and sometimes hinted towards violence and sex”, adding that the Google images set of photos marks a movement away from the darkness of the earlier images in his project and towards a melancholy introspection as the main character, himself, views the outside world.
He said a big part of the challenge of the project was manoeuvring Google Street View until he found a suitable location with the right atmosphere and lighting. He said he would drop “that little yellow guy” from Google Earth down onto on area of the map and keep moving him around:
Even then, sometimes the places were not right because I wanted the atmosphere to match the feeling. So I have found a few dozen locations that are amazing and full of character, but it might be too sunny or the wrong time of day. It can take 2-3 days of searching and I might not find anything. It took a few months to find close 20 locations that I wanted to use.
Hobson says image quality also dictated the image selection and that the site’s high-definition footage of rural areas was limited to Western Europe, Scandinavia, South Africa, Brazil and Thailand.
“I also use the processing technique that I used with my 2007-2010 photographs to enhance the mood and “paint” in the dark/light and alter colour balances to match mood that matches the setting,” he said.
Check out some of the incredibly poignant places he uncovered in the gallery below. More of Hobson’s work can be found on his website.