I made a quick sketch showing my preconceptions of a landscape.
The orientation of the landscape drawing was, almost inevitably for me landscape. This, I decided, was because, during my travels (both literally and my journey in previous courses), the vast majority of the photographs I had taken, which I considered to be of landscape genre, were taken in the landscape orientation anyway.
Secondly, another factor that probably affected my choice of format in a biased manner was that landscape also doubles of course as the orientation for viewing material like paintings, photographs and documents for example.
There were no people included, which again didn’t surprise me because the vast majority of my prior landscape images produced were largely ‘free’ of people. One reason I decided for this omission of people was people made the settings less ‘clean’ and distracted form the impact/mood of the photograph. A second reason was my landscapes were usually carefully composed so there was a clear relationship between foreground (where no people were present) and background. If this was one case another was a few of my landscapes tried to isolate a single subject so the drama was lost if another subject was included in the frame.
Predictably then, the terrain my quick sketch depicted consisted of a scene void of obvious human presence. However, the scene surprised me a bit in that it was of a country setting, rather than an urban cityscape. This was in contrast to a lot of my recent cityscapes and urban landscapes, where I had focused on showing off the ‘majesty’ of the city. I suppose the reason for choosing a more ‘typical’ – for me at least – country scene was I was drawing upon my connections for historical landscape photographs; perhaps even paintings. As Bate (2009) suggested in Photography: The Key Concepts – Page 12: ‘Photographs and photographers are abstracted from everything except their immediate background’ and Page 22: ’specific private histories and the social memories derived from them certainly contribute to a new realm of personal histories‘, from which I inferred: inspiration a photographer comes across is partly or wholly based upon a perception they have formed in their head from their history of photography. While it wasn’t my ‘immediate background’, it certainly was my overriding concept of landscapes in my short history of working with the genre. This was evident in my sketch.
One area the sketch fell short of this ‘all-natural’ setting, was in the diagonal lead-in line in the form of a human path starting in the foreground and leading into the horizon line.
The subjects were arranged in a manner that attempted to lead the viewer’s eye around the frame. For example, the setting Sun was in line (vertically at least) with the rule of thirds, thus helping to create a balanced composition, while the horizon line allowed space for the middle ground and foreground to add depth by being placed a little higher than the horizontal rule of thirds dictated. Finally, the diagonal lead-in line led the viewer’s eye up to the horizon line but also intersected some of the foreground elements; namely the flowers. Overall I would say the subjects were arranged in a way that tried to show a ‘balanced’ scene, with a relationship between the foreground and background elements present. This relationship was greatly amplified by the inclusion of the lead-in line, which tied the foreground with elements of the horizon line; most notably the cluster of trees.
The ‘mood’ of the picture was quite warm, aided by the setting Sun, which would have created a golden glow to foreground elements like the path, rocks and flowers, as well as the clouds above, had the sketch been in colour. The warmth the setting Sun provided was complemented by the fulfilling balance of the picture’s composition, because most elements conspired to relate to another part of the scene.
Although the sketch was absent of much meaning, the balance of the various elements, particularly the interesting diagonal lead-in line, made the scene quite satisfying for me to look at. Retrospectively, perhaps this is what I had intended from the beginning with the sketch: to produce just a pleasing landscape that typified a typical landscape from my perspective. A lot of the landscape photographs I had looked at were also countryside scenes, or at least largely natural. This undeniably was a major factor in why I chose to depict a rural setting rather than an urban one. Most photographers’ landscape work I’ve been inspired by have been set in unpopulated landscapes.
Some examples are Simon Roberts’ ‘Pierdom’ (2010-2013), Sebastio Salgado’s ‘Genesis’ Project (2004-2012) and Ansel Adam’s ‘Yosemite’ photographs, in particular those featured on his website: http://www.anseladams.com/ansel-adams-photography/yosemite-special-edition-photographs/ (accessed on 11/9/2014). I looked at Sebastio Salgado’s ‘Genesis’ project in a gallery in the National History Museum. My thoughts about this inspiring visit can be found here: http://johns-oca2.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/i-went-for-inspiring-visit-to-sebastiao.html (accessed on 11/9/2014). Also I read about this project prior to the visit in an article in the British Journal of Photography magazine (March 2013). My thoughts about this article can be found here: http://johns-oca2.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/salgados-workflow-and-possible-gps.html (accessed on 11/9/2014). Lastly, I have also seen Ansel Adam’s ‘White Branches, Mono Lake, California’ (1950) photograph during the very early part of my course, which happened to be an image that stuck in my mind. Mainly this was due to the composition, which I felt helped encourage the viewer’s eye between the stark and imposing foreground and the unusually high horizon line. These two elements I decided were so prominent because their relative placement compressed the scene, while still making the viewer’s eye dart between the two, trying to make a connection.
The reason I’ve chosen to do this course is because I believe from my experience with the genre of landscape that often it is a more ‘considered’ genre of photography, which I feel is reflected in my work style. So hopefully it will match me and I can be more creative with my landscapes as I learn in much more depth about the meaning behind landscape photographs.
Adams, A. (1950). White Branches, Mono Lake. [Photograph] In. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. (2014). White Branches, Mono Lake. [online] Available at: http://www.mfa.org/collections/object/white-branches-mono-lake-172877 [Accessed 11 Sep. 2014].
Adams, A. (2014). Yosemite Special Edition Photographs. [online] Shop.anseladams.com. Available at: http://www.anseladams.com/ansel-adams-photography/yosemite-special-edition-photographs/ [Accessed 11 Sep. 2014].
Bate, D. (2009). Photography: The Key Concepts, Bloomsbury Academic, 50 Bedford Square, London, WC1B 3DP UK, Pages 12 and 22.
Roberts, S. (2010-2013). Pierdom : Simon Roberts. [online] Simon Roberts. Available at: http://www.simoncroberts.com/work/pierdom/#PHOTO_0 [Accessed 11 Sep. 2014].
Salgado S. (2004-2012). Genesis, In. British Journal of Photography (March 2013), Aptitude Media Limited, 9 Beaumont Gate, Shenley Hill, Radlett, Herts, WD7 7AR UK, Pages 34-49.