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News & Insight

Shooting A Tokyo Train At 600 ‘Frames’ A Second To Freeze A Moment

By Kishore Sawh on January 12th 2014

Listening to music has been proven to make us slow down and can change our perception of our environment. It likely explains why there’s been such success in portable, personal music players and why you can’t go ten feet in an urban jungle without seeing white cabling dangling from the ears of youths and adults alike. For example, walking around your local market would hardly seem to register as anything noteworthy, but add the right soundtrack to that and all of a sudden your jaunt ‘round the shops is like something out of a Scorsese movie. Powerful stuff. Photos can have a similar effect, largely because you’re capturing a special moment, and while usually fleeting, the photograph allows you to stare, and notice the little trivialities which make a scene perfect.

I grabbed a high-speed quality control camera used in mass production for capturing fast-moving objects and put it into a human context to speak about our urban world and people living an urban life

[REWIND: Fine Art B&W Using a 4th Dimension By Vassilis Tangoulis]

Photographer Adam Magyar truly understands this, looking to find the details in the most common unsuspecting environments. In his new series, ‘Stainless’, Magyar sets out to do just that in a Tokyo subway. Well, initially, in a New York subway. He humorously says to a crowd during a presentation that they may be wondering how you can do this in a NY subway – to which he answers, you can’t.

It was the first of many set backs for Magyar who was told he couldn’t use a tripod in the station, was fined, and then had to do the project handheld. This created an issue in stability and in order to correct the issue, he had to develop his own software. He also had to develop a specific type of light meter, and housing for the special cameras, which were never meant to be portable. He is quite a remarkable person, with a set of skills that extends out of photography and  into engineering and development. Most photographers I know, myself included wouldn’t even think of developing software or designing and producing our own hardware. I’m literally in awe of the work that goes into his.

The type of device he uses is a modified ‘split-scan’ set up. It takes the sensor from a tabletop scanner which records one pixel in length about 600 times a second. Staying in one position, the sensor allows for a fast moving subject to pass in front of it essentially recording a singular moment of something very large.

He transfers this vision not only to still, but to moving pictures. The video is below and captivating. It’s so simple in delivery (though not in execution), it’s disarming, and yet hard to look away from, especially given that it’s just people in a subway station. He says of his project, “Stainless is the elegance found in the commonest of urban scenes.” The word ‘Stainless’ doesn’t just refer to the trains, but to the actual passengers who seem to be ‘stainless’ to their environment, immersed in their own world.


The project seems simple enough until you see it and pay attention for even 30 seconds -which you will, because once you start, you’ll find yourself sort of entranced. There’s a second video of Adam explaining about his work and the project, which is worth a look in and of itself. I think this is a great piece of work. I would love to see him push into more urban scenes and deliver them through this format. You can find more of Magyar on his website.

CREDITS: All photographs shared by Adam Magyar are copyrighted and have been used with permission for SLR Lounge. Do not copy, modify or re-post this article or images without express permission from SLR Lounge and the artist.

Source: Co. Exist


A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Jiri Ruzek

    Great project and fantastic results. Like from a horror movie :)

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  2. Rasmus

    Absolutely fascinating.

    But beware of Adam Magyar’s camera when you pick your nose.
    This brief moment will last for 15 long seconds (02:14 – 02:29) in his films.

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  3. Kim

    In Awe! This is a truly unique piece of art.

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  4. Kiril

    This is an amazing project.
    On the video, you can really see the light of the subway station actually flickering on the top of the frame( the light reflects on to the subway cars). At first I though it was some vibration from movement, but at the end I realise this was actually the light of the luminescent tubes.
    Also the parallax effect is awesome!!!
    The work this guy put on to this project is enormous, the end result is fantastic.
    People can really see the moments in the time.

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  5. dslr video studio

    Really inspiring and mesmerising image.

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