Project 42 - man made landscapes

The aim of this project is to take photographs of distinctly man made landscapes. For each image I was to decide on my clear intention with regard to the impression, information and opinion I wish to convey. Here are three images, for each I set out my intentions.

The first image was taken in Watendlath in the  English Lake District. It shows a bridge over the beck which is running in full flow with a wall leading into the background which has trees in autumn colour and the fells beyond. The bridge and wall are made of local stone and so meld into the landscape as if they were part of it. My intention with this image was to show how man can interact with the landscape in a sympathetic manner - man and landscape in harmony as it were.

Watendlath Beck and Pack Horse Bridge, English Lake District 
The second photograph was taken on the Ridgeway in Wiltshire at Segsbury Fort. In this image I how the ancient landscape of the Ridgeway and the fort have been blighted and enclosed by modern man. The fence in the foreground alludes to how the landscape in Britain is now closed off and Didcot Power Station illustrates how planning decisions for such installations are apparently not sympathetic with preserving the natural beauty and heritage of our landscape.

Didcot Power Station from Segsbury Fort, Wiltshire
The final image was taken in Florianopolis in Brazil. It was taken from a high vantage point and shows how man's relentless urbanisation takes over naturally beautiful landscapes. The trees in the foreground and the distant hills give clues to the landscapes once untouched past leaving one regretting mans overwhelming influence.

Florianopolis, Brazil

Project 41 - grain

The idea of this project is to explore how the use of film grain can be used creatively in landscape photography. All film has a degree of graininess but high speed black and white film is particularly noted for its significant grain - particularly when pushed. I do not generally shoot in film but it is possible to simulate grain with digital capture in a number of ways. The simplest method is to set the camera on a high ISO setting which in itself will produce a 'digital' graininess. This is not my preferred approach as I don't find the grain produced in this manner very attractive and also with digital sensors some detail is also lost at high ISO. My preference is to use a low ISO to retain resolution and detail and to add grain later using Photoshop or Lightroom. I can then control the look. To simulate the looked of 'pushed' film I also increase the contrast, clarity and sharpness of the images. Here are some comparisons based on two black and white images I shot for Assignment 5 'in the style of Fay Godwin'.

In these cases I think that the use of grain has a positive creative effect. In both of the images I selected the texture of the landscape is a feature and adding additional texture through the grain has accentuated this effect. Also the images refer to Man's relationship with the landscape by the inclusion of old or in the case of the latter image ancient man made elements. Adding grain has given the images a vintage feel and in the case of the first image has also accentuated the softness of the mist in the background enhancing the sense of mystery that this element provides.

What this exercise has shown me is that grain can be used well for creative effect but that the reason for doing it should be carefully considered within the context of the particular image.


Project 37: ways of dramatising a landscape

This project called for an evaluation of what techniques could be used to make a landscape photograph more dramatic. Here are my thoughts:

1. Inherently spectacular subjects such as mountains, cliffs, sea stacks etc - this is very much in the vein of the work by Galen Rowell who photographed in mountainous areas of the world where the scenery was inherently dramatic. Here is an example...
Last light on Horsetail Fall, Yosemite National Park

2. Extreme focal length of lens:very wide angle or long telephoto - here is an example of a photograph taken by David Noton using a 15mm fisheye lens which shows a wide perspective creating an image where the full extent of the bay can be appreciated adding to the drama of the scene:
 Port Campbell National Park, Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia

3. Rich colours at sunrise and sunset - photographing during the magic hour is perhaps the most oft used way of creating dramatic images as in this shot at dusk by David Noton:
Twelve Apostles at dusk, Port Campbell National Park,
Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia. 

4. Backlighting - this inherently creates a dramatic image due to the high contrast nature of the resulting images. Here is a particularly dramatic image taken by Galen Rowell:
God beams and colors of The Glory through prayer flags atop Gokyo Ri, Everest Region, Nepal

5. Unusual composition - by definition this approach can inherently take many forms. Here is an example by Galen Rowell based on over-emphasising the foreground interest relative to the background:
Cuernos del Paine at dawn from Lago Pehoe, Patagonia, Chile

The project requires me to come up with some other examples of dramatic landscapes. Here are some thoughts:

1. Reflections - lakes surrounded by dramatic scenery can create a dramatic image when on a still day the landscape is mirrored in the lake - Buttermere in the English Lake District is a great location for this type of image. Sadly on the two occasions I have been there recently it has been very windy...still conditions are a pre-requisite for this type of image.
2. Dramatic Weather - stormy weather can be very dramatic with majestic cloud conditions and strong light. An image of a storm brewing over a distant landscape is an example of this type of image. 
3. Extended Leading lines - a shot along a beach with the sea tracing a long winding line into the distance has the potential to create a dramatic image particularly if the light and weather add to the mix.
4. Use of unusual aspect ratios - wide panoramic images with aspects ratios above 2:1 can add to the drama of a scene as they can present a perspective not normally seen by the human eye. 
5. Using ND filters to create long exposures - this approach particularly when the photograph has elements within it which are moving can create unusual and dramatic images. This is particularly the case when capturing images of the sea or lake moving over rocks or other static elements. The water takes on a creamy texture and the impression is of movement. The same is true of rivers and streams moving over rocks.

These are a few thoughts and I may add to these at a later stage as ideas come to me. 


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About Me

I have been taking photographs since I was young boy some 45 years ago, but only seriously since 2005 when I enrolled to study at the Open College of the Arts. I am working towards a BA in Photography. I am a Licentiate of the Royal Photographic Society. This log record details of my projects and assignments during my studies. It also records ideas, work by other artists/photographers, notes on books/websites/exhibitions, influences, discoveries, thoughts, research findings and observations as I work through my courses. You can contact me at keith.greenough@btinternet.com or simply leave a comment on one of my posts.

Landscape Photography Bibliography

  • Andrea G Stillman (2007), Ansel Adams 400 Photographs, Little Brown New York USA
  • Andy Grundberg (1999), Crisis of the Real, Aperture Foundation New York
  • Ansel Adams (2007), Examples The Making of 40 Photographs, Little Brown New York USA
  • Ben Maddow(1989), Edward Weston, His Life, Aperture Foundation New York USA
  • Charlie Waite (1989), Scottish Islands, Constable London
  • Charlie Waite (1992), The Making of Landscape Photographs, Collins and Brown London
  • Charlie Waite (1999), Seeing Landscapes, Collins and Brown London
  • Charlie Waite (2002), In My Minds Eye, Photographers Institute Press East Sussex UK
  • Charlie Waite (2005), Landscape, Collins and Brown London
  • Clive Minnitt and Phil Malpas(2009), Finding the Picture, Envisage Books London
  • David Noton (2008), PHOTOGRAPY ESSENTIALS: WAITING FOR THE LIGHT, David & Charles PLC, London
  • Fay Godwin(1985), Land, William Heinemann London
  • Fay Godwin(1990), Our Forbidden Land, Jonathan Cape London
  • Fay Godwin(1998), Glassworks & Secret Lives, Stella Press East Sussex UK
  • Fay Godwin(2001), Landmarks, Dewi Lewis Publishing Stockport UK
  • Galen Rowell (1995), Mountain Light, Sierra Club Books San Francisco USA
  • Galen Rowell (2001), Inner Game of Outdoor Photography, Norton & co New York USA
  • Galen Rowell (2002),Galen Rowell's Vision: The Art of Adventure Photography, University of California Press USA
  • Harry Callaghan (1993), Ansell Adams in Color, Little Brown New York USA
  • Hunter, Biver & Fuqua(2007), Light Science & Magic, Elsevier Oxford UK
  • James Bentley & Charlie Waite (1987), Languedoc, George Philip London
  • James Bentley & Charlie Waite (1987), Languedoc, George Philip London
  • Joe Cornish, Charlie Waite, David Ward, Eddie Ephraums (2006), Working the Light, Argentum London
  • Joe Cornish, Charlie Waite, David Ward, Eddie Ephraums (2007), Developing Style and Vision, Argentum London
  • Joel Meyerowitz (2002), Cape Light, Little Brown and Company New York USA
  • John Berger, Ways of Seeing, Penguin Modern Classics
  • John P Schaefer (2007),The Ansel Adams Guide Book 2 Basic Techniques of Photography, Little Brown New York USA
  • John P Schaefer (2007),The Ansel Adams Guide Book I Basic Techniques of Photography, Little Brown New York USA
  • John Szarkowski (1981), American Landscapes, The Museum of Modern Art New York USA
  • Landscape Photographer of the Year Collection 01 (2007), AA Publishing
  • Landscape Photographer of the Year Collection 02 (2008), AA Publishing
  • Landscape Photographer of the Year Collection 03 (2009), AA Publishing
  • Liz Wells (1996), Photography:A Critical Introduction, Routledge Oxon
  • Liz Wells (2003), The Photography Reader, Routledge Oxon
  • Marc Garanger (1989), Louisiane, Kodak
  • Robert Adams (1996), Beauty in Photography, Aperture Foundation New York USA
  • Robert Adams et al (2009), New Topographics, Steidl Germany
  • Stephen Shaw (2004), Uncommon Places The Complete Works, Thames and Hudson, London
  • Susan Sontag, On Photography, Penguin Books London
  • Terence Pitts (2008), Edward Weston (Icons Series), Taschen
  • TPOTY Awards (2010), TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR Journey Three, Travel Photographer of the Year Suffolk UK