Post-Apocalyptic Photographs of Major Cities Around the World

Silent World is a project by Paris-based artists Lucie & Simon that shows post-apocalyptic views of famous locations around the world. All but one or two of the people in each location are removed from the scene. Rather than use multiple exposures and compositing the images to remove moving objects (e.g. people and cars), they chose to use a neutral density filter — one that’s normally used by NASA for analyzing stars — in order to achieve extremely long exposure times during the day.

Here’s a video showing how one of their Beijing photographs was made:

The concept is similar to Matt Logue’s photos of Los Angeles in empty LA and Masataka Nakano images of Tokyo in Tokyo Nobody.

Silent World by Lucie & Simon (via Fubiz)

Image credits: Photographs by Lucie & Simon and used with permission

  • Spider- Man

    I do this too, it’s called Detroit, heyyy oooo

  • tim

    Very cool, produces a great mood. The video doesn’t exactly show “how” it was made (although yeah, I get it). What I wonder is: If they’re not composited, how do the people appear? Are they models hired to stand very still in the shot? Seems more likely that they’re later composited in.

  • Devon Murphy

    I had the same idea but never got around to it, glad someone did. 

  • julietromeo

    Striking views :) But there’s something I don’t understand. No compositing and no multiple exposures? How then is it possible to have frozen movement of flags and water fountains?

  • GhostDog

    But in order to get flags, clouds etc into the image they still have to do a composite, right? I totally get how people get removed via that technique but so does everything else that moves (even slightly).

  • guest

    They said no compositing was used to “remove” moving objects. ;)

  • julietromeo

     Ha ha, that’s true :)

  • jdm8

    How did they make high traffic lanes not look a little bit streaky?

  • mr_lu

    when i was travelling to Prague, Czech Republic, i bought a book of B&W photos of this beautiful city by a local photographer named Jan Reich. he somehow managed to take not one, but actually two books of pictures of the city without a single person on a picture. he was using medium format film camera, so instead of Photoshop, he had to use patience and simply wait for time of day when there were no ppl at the spot. it’s magic, and the pictures got an eerie atmosphere.

  • Geraldxiou

    why would all the advertising still be running if it was post-apocalyptic? power sources will crash easily within 7-10 days from lack of human intervention. kinda crappy.

  • Estryp

    This is art?

  • DeathToMetal

    Yes, and this is you looking like a retard.

  • karen
  • Jjjustinnn

    What strength ND-filter are we talking about here? Any ideas about exposure time? 

  • Jeff Rivers

    9-stop ND filter. Good tutorial video here:

  • Borbeery

    As hole. I have traveled cities all over the world; Detroit is great.

  • Philip Han

    Yes, they’re most likely hired or asked to stand there.

    I’m doing a final proposal based on Hirosho Sugimoto’s work but my previous experiments in street photography with long exposures always revealed one or two people standing or moving in sync with my camera and my professor told me to stage it like in these pictures but I have a very strong ethic when it comes to purist photography. Street photography shouldn’t be staged as far as I’m concerned but I guess I’ll experiment with it eventually.

  • 9inchnail

    So how long were those exposures? In the video, there are parked cars on the left side. In the still image they’re gone. Kinda hard to believe they weren’t removed in PP. 

  • Deathrip

    so spooky
    they said that they used the filter to take all of the people and cars out but how did they put the one or two people back?  superimposition?

  • Spider- Man

    I am a photog in Detroit, it was a joke, as hole. LOL hence the Heyyy oooo.

  • Anthony Burokas

    Exactly. You have to remove all the blurred items that’d normally be in a long exposure, and replace them with crisp versions from a normal daytime photograph. And then the blur of the sun and crisp shadows would conflict, so you need a cloudy day for the “still” shot. And there are shots with detailed clouds, a bird, all which had to be edited in later. So there’s a lot of post work here. 

  • Hoi

    pretty sure composited in. same with the flags. if they wouldn’t be, they would be all blurry.

  • Philip Han

    That takes away so much from these then…

    I hate compositing, it’s just Digital Manipulation and not Photography. Don’t ask me why, but I feel like Photoshop is an amazing tool yet it’s completely ruining true Photography at the same time.