alejandro chaskielberg – the high tide [EPF Finalist]

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Alejandro Chaskielberg

The High Tide

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Emerging Photographer Fund – FINALIST  (number one of eleven)

With my photographs I create fictional scenarios with real people and situations.

I try to explore the limits of documentary photography, using technical processes to transform the natural perception of light, colors and spaces.

I am working on a project about the Paraná River Delta photographed in full moon.

The Paraná River supplies water for more than one hundred million people, including the cities of San Pablo, Buenos Aires and Asunción, Argentina. The whole Paraná basin is one of the principal reserves of sweet water in the world.

My photographs set out to document the life and work of the islanders of the Delta.

Using long-time exposures with full moon, they have allowed me to light part of the landscape artificially and also give the islanders a strange timelessness: an unknown source of light floods the scene with unreality and mysterious.

I think my pictures as slides of unfinished stories, having a script on my head. The images are carefully planned after days of observation, and they only have a body when the large-format camera initiates the slow subordination of the capture. It will take from five to ten minutes until this thick darkness sprouts what was secret.

I am interested in the poetical and visual power of the water, and the relationship of the people and the environment. I think that the health of this resource is a worldwide problematic issue today.

My intention is to work with photography in the border between reality and fiction.

Photography can transform reality and produce a magical view of people and life, and this is a part of its particular language.


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Alejandro Chaskielberg


290 Responses to “alejandro chaskielberg – the high tide [EPF Finalist]”

  • OK. Now that is pretty damn cool!

  • Before reading the words I saw this essay completely differently than I did before. My initial stupid reaction was ho hum, who cares about the latest in a long line of digital shooters abusing a lens baby. After reading your words, I had to go back and my stupid jaw dropped. Large format film? Amazing!

  • Edit: The first stupid sentence above should say: Before reading the words I saw this essay completely differently than I did after.

  • Reminds me of the look of old Viewmaster photos. These would be interesting printed really large in a gallery.

  • JIM…

    yes, that is what it reminds me of too, but i could not put my finger on it!!! somewhere i still have my old Viewmaster i think…now THAT was photography……thanks


    please e-mail me when you have a chance….

  • BIG WOW! :)

  • viewmaster jim (BIGGEST SMILE!!!)

    how did photographer take these pictures of the littlest people?!!!
    the grass is larger than life!!!
    call me voyeur i want to be one !!!
    i feel like an ant – the biggest, happiest ant in the grass !!!

    thank you — today’s my best monday in a while!!!!
    mr alejandro

  • David,

    Did you see my email?

  • just amazing – the bar is set high.

    so much to tuck into.. the sumptuous photographs themselves of course, and also the story.. the technique.. the restrictions you have put on yourself in order to create the feel of them, alejandro.

    just fantastic.. i want a large format camera again.

    good luck

  • Oh David B…. you probably really don’t… (grin)

  • Beautiful and dreamy!!!

  • Divino Alejandro…
    he pasado por tu pagina de web bastante, desde que vi a tus fotos en la galeria ruth benzacar hace un par de anos…tenes una vision bastante fuerte, y imagenes exitosos en la comunicacion de tus pensamientos. Felicidades!

  • Alejandro,

    really nice and interesting work, definitely could see these on a gallery wall. My first impression I really thought the work was just okay and maybe just not my cup of tea, but then I went to your website and viewed all of your portfolios and really loved your work, very powerful and strangely enough I can see why the High Tide essay is your strongest work but only because I liked the edit on your website better. Is it the edit, the black, the 3d grass, the color? I am not sure why……but really nice work, impressive! could also see your style very strong for an assignment at Burn.

  • Yes, bastante fuerte Viewmaster! Big congratulations to you Alejandro.

    So fantastic to see the EPF door opened. I think for all the finalists I will keep my comments to a minimum as they are revealed, I am sure all the projects chosen will have great interest and merit. What I would really love to see is some sort of written account of what the judges feel about each piece, even just notes they make to this possible DAH? at the end maybe of all 10, to see some feedback from the 10 eyes and yours too of course?

  • What amazing work! The colors, the light…excellent!

  • it is a blurry line
    between reality
    you so clearly demonstrate….
    the light…
    so soft
    each one of your frames seems to have its own narrative….
    oh so real…

  • DUH, per your request, my stupid email is in your box.

  • Great technique. Fascinating stuff!

  • Nice, very different and unexpected. Sort of untrue which can be a good or bad thing. I’ll check it again in a few days time.

  • magical scenes and wonder colours! is it ok to call this art???!!! ;)
    great unique piece of work!

  • All I can say is: Cool! As already suggested I to would love to see these printed on a large scale in a gallery – they’d look amazing.

    David AH I sent you an email a couple of weeks ago have you had a chance to look at it?

  • Alejandro

    I am fascinated with your thought process realized in this compelling work. Have you ever seen the film “The Truman Show” Your essay reminds me of that fictionalized enclave, but instead of living there in the ‘show’ i feel that i’ve climbed a wall and am looking in at our world. I like the freedom of not being directed to react but to feel it come to me instead allowing me to touch it. But, i can’t touch it. I like that.
    It’s yours. Anne

  • ERICA..

    yes, of course…good idea…i will keep copious notes….

    cheers, david

  • different, refreshing work. not sure about how well all the images fit with the theme, but then its a work in progress so i kind of figure this can be overlooked.

    gets my approval for sure.

  • really original…ethereal. i like the idea of ‘exploring the limits’ of a genre.
    good luck with the project

  • Brilliant, interesting technique, great colours. I have seen this featured elsewhere, PDN I think

    Well done Alejandro, you are getting the recognition you deserve.

    So much happens here on Burn in such a short time. I go away for a long weekend, stories get taken down, Panos opens exhibition EPF finalists showcased, burn being sold for megabucks in a time of recession:-)

    David AH (what do you like to be called?) and all the others who work behind the scenes, you have created a raging inferno that will tear through the photography world as we know it. Bravo

  • IAN….

    i look forward to working with you immediately following the Look3 festival…will i see you in London at the end of June???

    my mother calls me David…i generally try to follow her wishes….

    cheers, david

  • fasinating imagery- I wish you much success completing the series. Great!

  • DAH

    that’s great, I think that will be a huge education for us all..invaluable really.

    Will the judges look at the comments here? Anton wrote something about them viewing the work at private curious as to what that means. Will they wait to see all the finalists at one time?

    thanks – i know I am filled with a mighty curiosity :))

  • david,

    Yep you will certainly see me end of June in London let me know when where etc. I am working on some past projects, that I wouldn’t mind showing you, and a great project in June, just trying to leverage some dosh from the WWF.

    David it is then.

  • Eye Candy !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    At last…..someone that can use a Large Format camera,…. for real!!!!!

  • Wow! Alejandro has set the EPF finalists’ bar very high indeed. This essay is mesmerizing; I wanted it to go on and on without end. He explains how he captures/creates the world in this way but it is still a total mystery to me, and I want it to remain so. I don’t want to know his process, I just want to let myself be washed in the surreal light of his visions. Amazing work!


  • Congratulations Alejandro !! very amazing et beautiful work !

    Best, audrey

  • Great technique, great images. Really refreshing to see. Who said film was dead ?

    Just gotta love Large Format…

  • Barrie…
    Its not the film that did the job here…
    Its the design of the camera ( plus the photog’s SKILLS )… not the film…

  • Yep, getting those slither thin areas of DOF running in odd directions without photoshop takes a view camera.

  • I feel like I’m pulling out of a weird dreamscape having looked at these. Still trying to shake loose of it so that I can better concentrate on the washing up after dinner. If I allow my head to wander back in I’ll likely break something in the sink.

    I’ll come back for more later.

  • I first viewed the essay without reading the text. My first impression was of a story being told with the use of mannequins in the place of human beings. As the essay unfolded I could see that at least some of the figures in the landscapes were real people. Alejandro says he creates fictional scenarios with real people and situations and that he works with photography in the border between reality and fiction. This is not to my particular taste, sorry. Using fictional scenarios to explore reality – I’d rather see the reality.

    It’s very interesting to see the landscape lit by the full moon but the figures look posed and unreal; how could they be other? Perhaps its the large format and the ultra thin depth of field.

    But hey, what do I know?

    Best wishes,


  • really refreshing photography! Alejandro, you deserve nothing but the best of compliments for your wonderful work. bravo!

  • Jim, yes, really perspicaious comment, viewmaster… I think in France, we call(ed) them “diaporama (Audrey, Eric, can you confirm?). In many ways, those little slide shows were my National GEO, as a kid.

    Alejandro, cool stuff, throwing us off in the best possible way. Curious as to see if the next 9 installements will rather privilege new ways of dealing with images and subjects, opposed to good old docu style.

    The technique is totally different, as well as the effect intended probably (I do not sense any irony), but the choreography with which you install people within your frames, as much objects as flesh and bones, do make me think of Martin Parr.

  • Panos,

    Agreed, it’s not the film but the the skill of the photographer here. What I really meant is that you can only get this effect by using a large format camera and obviously have to use film, unless you’ve got a scanning back.

    Film just gives you a different look, and that’s the look that stops me in my tracks, everytime…

  • Coming too late into photography, I rarely ask myself, film or digital, when I look at pictures. But since we have experts here: Could that technique be approached with totally digital means (camera and editing software)? Thanks.

  • My post disappeared! I’ll try to re-create.

    I first looked at the essay without reading the text. My initial thought was that the photographs were of mannequins set in the landscape. As the essay progressed I could see that at least some of the figures were human. Then I read the text. Alejandro says that he creates fictional scenarios with real people and situations and that he is “interested in the poetical and visual power of the water, and the relationship of the people and the environment” and thinks “that the health of this resource is a worldwide problematic issue today….” I agree that the resource of water is a concern of us all but I’m not sure that this is the way to bring attention to the subject. Sorry.

    I like the long exposure and moonlight but the effect this has on the human subjects is that they look posed and stilted. Again, sorry, but this is not to my taste. But hey! What do I know? I’m not an EPF Finalist.

    Best wishes and congratulations Alejandro and remember, if everyone praised your work it would probably be boring!


  • Very interesting, unique style. Love number 12 and 5. The only aspect of the essay that I’m unsure of is the way you posed the people (the ‘way’ being the way you physically placed the people, not that your photographs are posed!) Some of the shots feel wonderful, and others seem to be losing what could be a really dynamic human subject. I realize you are doing long exposures, making dynamic humans hard. I’m sure shooting with such a shallow DOF with a view camera can make this incredibly difficult, as a 35mm shooter I really wouldn’t know. I guess I would love to learn more about how the people in your shots are symbolic of the river, some of the photographs are obvious in this regard, others need far more interpretation. Shot number 3 for instance, I love the composition of the frame (focus, light, color), but find the composition of the human subject odd. 7 and 14 confuse me for similar reasons. I’m left wondering why, as a series, number 9 has no human. 9 doesn’t feel strong enough on its own without another point of interest. Overall this entire essay is wonderful, my critiques are nit-picky and only first thoughts on the piece. Perhaps with a few more views I will find some answers, maybe I won’t and that is the point. Cheers.

  • I really like Alejandro’s approach, technique (I refer to the full moon exposure…personally I don’t care if these great images are the results of a lensbaby, a viewcamera or a photoshop’s filter) and, most of all, results: it is like looking into a tiny world. It’s really an original way to tell a story: even if the story plot is quite loose in this case, we are allowed to cast a (magical) glance into a not so exposed world and that’s more than enough for me. Congratulations!

  • Herve, could it be done with digital and Photoshop? Sure. But I don’t think that’s relevant. The photographer created some excellent fine art images with the View Camera. In this case, I think the means they were created is irrelevant to the images.

  • Indeed, Jim, as I wrote, i never ask myself. Panos and Barrie had me wondering.

    Thanks for the info.

  • Herve,

    It probably could be done with digital and photoshop but I reckon it would take ages and you’d have to be really skillful to do it this good.

    I personally don’t care how Alejandro did it, I’m just glad he did it his way. Lighting a scene like he has done is real difficult. Hats off to him, wonderful work.

    What’s next I wonder?

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