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Quote: For me, and my personal opinion, whether these are good landscape photographers, it's
It's always interesting to hear other views.
Perhaps you could back up your simple yes/no with a little more in the way of justification as I find your choices quite interesting? Some of those names are pure landscapers, some are known for other genres (Thomas Struth and Nadav Kander, particularly) and I specifically chose a non-'wow' image by Strand. Might also be useful to know what your definition of a 'good' landscape photographer might be.
So this is a bit more detail on my earlier post.
The Edward Burtynsky image linked is a striking other worldly image, because of which piques the interest of what is changing the colour of the (I assume water) and where it is. Looking at more of his pics, there seem to be a lot of pictures of pollution, and/or man's impact on the world.
The Thomas Struth image linked does nothing for me. It’s a snap at best of a mountain against a clear, slightly overexposed, with cars in the foreground doing nothing particularly interesting. I don’t see what makes this worthy of note. :-/
The Robert Adams pic of mobile homes in front of a pretty boring (bad conditions) hill, as a landscape pic it’s not very good imho. As an image accompanying a story about the encroachment of man into nature, then maybe it works.
The Nandev Kandar pic has an interesting building in a quite uninteresting scene, taken on a poor day for weather. The people in the foreground add scale, but are otherwise separate to the building and the scene.
The David Ward pic is more Abstract than Landscape for me. As are a few other of his pics on his site. The Loch Abstract could as easily have been salt on a black table forming patterns. :-/ He has other more dramatic landscape pics looking on Google, though a few more abstracts too.
The Harry Cory Wright pic. If it didn’t have the Stonehenge title, would you have known it was (part of) Stonehenge? :-/ I don’t find blocks of stone, unless constructed into something, as in case of Stonehenge, worth looking at, and especially not in such an unremarkable scene.
The Hans Strand pic. I don’t find the pic, taken on its own, that interesting. That the moss has grown over a Lava field makes it slightly more interesting, and I mean slightly, but without that information the pic does nothing for me. And if a pic needs more information to ‘work’ then it normally doesn’t work for me. It’s a visual medium, not a visual and reading medium.
For Jan Tove, the pic Särna 2007 comes up. A misty, unremarkable scene. I must be dim, because I don’t get it. :-/
The Mike Stacey pic, is apparently a tent on a salt lake. After the, ‘I wonder what that shape is’, it’s OK then, is that it? Yes, it could show the desolation of the scene, if the subject was recognisable. Some of the rest of his pics are overexposed unremarkable scenes.
The Al Brydon pic. A rusting fence in a field, and I’m supposed to think what exactly? What is the fence there in relation too? It could be the huge old house behind the photographer.
And as for what makes a good landscape pic, that’s up to the individual. You obviously like the images linked. Most don’t do anything for me. But maybe that’s just me. If we all liked the same things there would be one picture of every place in the world because we all like that pic, of that scene.
I can’t say what I’ll like until I see it, but most of the time I either like something or not instantly. That may be shallow to some, but we like what we like.
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Thanks for that. It's always useful to justify opinions rather than simply rejecting things out of hand, I find.
I'm wondering if you aren't comparing the pictures I picked (as merely being examples of thought-provoking landscape images) against your personal idea of what makes a 'good' landscape image, rather than taking them on their own terms. Sometimes we can be constrained by what we feel we're supposed to like or what we have been told is 'good' work and may, perhaps, be unwilling to step outside our comfort-zones to appreciate substantially different approaches to particular genres as a result. Just a thought.
OK. Here's my take on the list (hopefully this won't sound too pseudy or too much like artybollox )
1. (Burtynsky) At first sight, this could be a river of lava in a desolate landscape but the ripples indicate water. So why's it red? Serious pollution of some sort. How did it get this bad? What's going on upstream?
2. (Struth) It's a photograph of a landscape icon (not over-exposed, btw, I've seen a huge print of this) but it's the view a typical tourist might see not the 'traditional' Ansel Adams pristine wilderness. So a 'wilderness' experience neatly packaged with a good road and ample parking space. A comment on modern society.
3. (R. Adams) This is in a similar vein to the previous. Spotlessly clean trailers, neatly parked, with good road access contrast starkly against the wilderness just a stone's throw away in a very formal composition. A comment on America's relationship with wild landscape.
4. (Kander) Part of his Yangtze project illustrating the human cost of China's mad dash for growth. Two small figures are dwarfed by a strange construction. Sculpture? An unfinished building? They seem to be as mystified by it as we are. The drab weather with its hint of acrid fumes is a recurring theme in the project adding to the alienating, inhuman atmosphere (sometimes 'golden hour' is precisely the wrong light for a landscape… )
5. (Ward) Like a lot of DW's work, it's not immediately obvious what's going on here. It's an open-ended question, basically. Bleak, cold yet strangely fascinating.
6. (HC Wright) It's a picture of some standing stones, it's not immediately obvious that this is Stonehenge as the composition is different from what you might expect. The soft, gentle light gives a sense of mystery and the con-trail, seeming to come from the tall stone is an intriguing link between prehistoric and modern.
7. (Strand) This is a little like the DW shot. Strange, other-worldly, the textures are unusual and the moss turns the boulders into interesting and evocative shapes. It also shows how life can take hold in the most inhospitable of locations.
8. (Töve) An empty road disappearing into mist is a bit of a cinematic cliché but here made a bit more interesting by the bland functional houses and Swedish flag. I ask myself why the flag is there. It seems forlorn, slightly unsettling and I wonder what happened before the image was made and what might happen after…
9. (Stacey) I follow Mike's work on Flickr and he has done a series of minimal landscapes like this. Here, you have to wonder why the tent is pitched at that precise spot in a featureless landscape. Does it belong to the photographer? Or perhaps there is a car-park just out of shot? Maybe the owner of the tent could only hike that far before fatigue set in…
10. (Brydon) I also follow Al's work on Flickr as he has an interesting knack of making the ordinary seem extraordinary. I wonder about the construction in the field. Is it a sheep pen? The remains of a bigger structure? How long has it been there? Who used it and for what purpose?
So they might not be 'pretty pictures' in the generally accepted sense of landscape photography but they all ask questions and don't necessarily provide easy answers. That's what makes them thought-provoking, imo.
Ok I absolutely agree that people should take the time to give opinions so I have done the same and given time to these images ( the 10 linked too first )
Here are my own opinions based on my own perception as both a photographer and lover of urban art ! ( i have my own urban art site )
1. Edward Burtnsky.
An abstract of a river at best with selective colouring tackily used to accentuate a quite boring scene. Looking through the other images I see the same technique used many times with only really the factory scene holding any interest for more than a fleeting look.
A nice shot of a mountain , nothing more than a tourist photo. Some scenes street and people which could have been taken by anybody technically fine but no real feeling conveyed.
Definitely a step up for me , the caravan scene shows great composition and contrast of both tones and subject. The road scene on further perusal does hold interest and although the sky is blown out that makes the shot work well there is another version of it without blow out which is not so attractive , the other shots here apart from the caravan which i like the shapes of are average at best.
4. Nadav Kander
Interesting shots architecturally but very much in a journalistic style I would class this as urban landscape work and as such althought they dont make me wild with excitement i can see that large version of these could work well.
5. David Ward
This although an abstract rather than landscape is nice and I can clearly see the vision of the photographer taking the shot and plenty of thought in the result.
6. Harry Cory Wright.
A photo clearly lacking in both composition and technique with far too little detail , one could start reading into it how one rock is separated and on its own etc but then one would maybe get taken away in a white jacket Dont like this one I am afraid.
7. Hands Strand
Great shot with lovely colours texture and composition which you could look at large for some time and still see interest in , conveys the feel of the place and the intention of the photographer.
8. Jan Tove
Lost for words here, this is someones flickr gallery of snaps taken i presume ? it isnt consisten in its content and displays no message of any sort to me other then a lack of inspiration or photographic skill on the photographers part .
9. Mike Stacey
I can really appreciate these works, some great mimalism provocative compositions and good use of textures and colours in these works. Good Works.
10. Al Brydon
Some urban derelicition here which is one of my specialites, Have to say that they are derelict in terms of feeling and emotion and lacking in any technical prowess, they give me the feel of someone who is depressed or angry in some way , not sure if that is the intention ?
A starting point would be to define what a Landscape photograph is. Even in this thread we clearly have differences of opinion.
If, for instance, somebody links to one of Wards' Landscapes Within, what makes it not a landscape?
Quote: A starting point would be to define what a Landscape photograph is. Even in this thread we clearly have differences of opinion.
And just where does the border between landscape and journalism (for example) lie and can an image not show elements of different genres simultaneously? Why should everything be so strictly pigeonholed?
Quote: If, for instance, somebody links to one of Wards' Landscapes Within, what makes it not a landscape?
A very good question - probably because it doesn't conform to the standard (limited) notion of Landscape (i.e. a pretty view with a nice sky)
Jools, I admire your imagination, because I obviously couldn't see what you saw, or a meaning beyond the aesthetic.
Like I said earlier, we all like different things in images, I prefer the things I can see for the most part, not what I think is the meaning behind the pic. Yes, one could imagine a meaning, and unless it was what the photographer meant, your are just making something up that wasn't meant to be there. Nothing wrong with that if you get enjoyment out of it.
But if the photographer 'needs' to tell you the meaning, then we're getting into the 'art' bs. (imho) This image signifies this, or means that, which may be justifying a sometimes v. poor image.
Quote: But if the photographer 'needs' to tell you the meaning, then we're getting into the 'art' bs.
Not really - many people will see the message without having to be told.
I don't sit easy with Landscape's having to challenge or provoke. They are both words that are banded about as though all good photographs have to abide by at least one of them. If someone makes a living producing what has been called wallpaper in this thread, then so what - it doesn't make them any less passionate about their work, any more than a wedding photographer who produces very nice pictures of the bride without having to somehow provoke or challenge.
Quote: unless it was what the photographer meant, your are just making something up that wasn't meant to be there
Which is the intention of a great deal of modern art. It makes you create your own back story and meaning to what is in front of you - one persons imagination to inspire another.
Oh no I can see a new Northscape blog post developing
To me a lot of the images linked to by Jools appear a bit bland, I don't particularly see any back story or any hidden depth, there again if I wore a jacket with elbow patches, and taught geography I may feel differently (I did like the abstract one tho).
A lot of the landscapes I enjoyed when I first joined EPZ were the ones where it incorporated the industrial heritage with the traditional landscape (if there is such a thing). The discarded mill stones at Padley and in the Peaks, the wreck at Saltwick for example. But we have seen these numerous times, and some of the original Wow factor is lost as we've seen it all before.
Quote: Jools, I admire your imagination, because I obviously couldn't see what you saw, or a meaning beyond the aesthetic.
Could that have been because you couldn't get past the reaction that some (most? all?) of the images didn't fit with your notion of a 'good' landscape photograph and, as a result, decided not to waste very much time on them?
OK, with the Kander and Struth shots I knew a bit about the backstory and the intentions behind the picture but the rest was down to 'reading' the image -which, quite honestly, anyone can do with a bit of practice. The cues are all there, very little is hidden or only accessible to initiates (perhaps there is some of that too, in which case I totally missed it!) It's just a matter of simply looking and thinking about what you are seeing.
The individual photographers I knew about, of course, but the pictures (except for the Burtynsky and Struth) were chosen more-or-less at random from what I could find online. With Jan Töve I could have included some of his more overtly landscape work (the 'Beyond Order' and 'Speglingar' (Reflections) series) but chose something a little less obvious because I quite like it! Likewise Hans Strand has a lot of quite 'conventional' shots. And the HCW shot of Stonehenge I like because it's quite subtle and hints at deeper meaning rather than walloping the viewer over the head with it.
Anyway, it's certainly got an interesting debate going!
According to wikipedia this is the commonly held interpretation of a landscape, and to be fair I am inclined to agree with it !
"Landscape comprises the visible features of an area of land, including the physical elements of landforms such as (ice-capped) mountains, hills, water bodies such as rivers, lakes, ponds and the sea, living elements of land cover including indigenous vegetation, human elements including different forms of land use, buildings and structures, and transitory elements such as lighting and weather conditions.
Combining both their physical origins and the cultural overlay of human presence, often created over millennia, landscapes reflect the living synthesis of people and place vital to local and national identity. Landscapes, their character and quality, help define the self-image of a region, its sense of place that differentiates it from other regions. It is the dynamic backdrop to people’s lives.
The Earth has a vast range of landscapes including the icy landscapes of polar regions, mountainous landscapes, vast arid desert landscapes, islands and coastal landscapes, densely forested or wooded landscapes including past boreal forests and tropical rainforests, and agricultural landscapes of temperate and tropical regions."
That said it certainly challenges my and others view of what a stereotypical landscape is , the use of buildings and man made structures crosses the boundary between landscape architectural and street photography for instance. I like my landscapes with good colour and detail or really solid contrasts if black and white and to portray movement or a particular time of year, thats my bag - however as this conversation goes on I am slowly coming round to the idea of other variations and appreciating how different people see these things in different ways.
As a photographer it is important to me to find my own way and style to try and differentiate myself from the rest especially in the competitive wedding world and with that sometimes comes an overly protective and narrow sighted field of photographic vision which needs to be challenged to get to the next stage whatever that may be !
Out of interest why not post your favourite landscape shot of your own on here and see what people make of it.
This is mine from 2005, taken with one of my very first digital cameras a Pentax ISTDS of Redcar Beach with the Steel Works in the background.
Quote: That said it certainly challenges my and others view of what a stereotypical landscape is , the use of buildings and man made structures crosses the boundary between landscape architectural and street photography for instance.
If you try to find a landscape without man made features, you will have to look long and hard. Drystone walls, groynes, fences, quarried features (peak district) , lighthouses, windmills, statues (eg Gormleys), bridges, piers etc my guess 95%plus of images in the landscape gallery on here will have some man made feature.
Quote: one persons imagination to inspire another.
I think we had a conversation some years ago Keith along the lines of being inspired by a person be it photographer or artist is harder not to do.
Quote: Could that have been because you couldn't get past the reaction that some (most? all?) of the images didn't fit with your notion of a 'good' landscape photograph and, as a result, decided not to waste very much time on them?
If I had decided not to waste time on the images I wouldn't have tried to look at other examples of the photographers work past the images linked to see if I could get why you had linked these images. :-/ I tried to see a meaning, but couldn't. Maybe I don't have a sophisticated eye, or maybe I just know what I like.
As to having preconceived ideas of what a landscape pic should be, don't we all have that? I at least expect some land. (or sea) But really I don't know what I like until I see it. If it doesn't attract me, I don't feel the need to examine for any perceived meaning of the photographer may have had to make me like an otherwise unattractive image/scene.
Quote: If I had decided not to waste time on the images I wouldn't have tried to look at other examples of the photographers work past the images linked to see if I could get why you had linked these images. :-/
Quote: I tried to see a meaning, but couldn't. Maybe I don't have a sophisticated eye, or maybe I just know what I like.
It's not really that the images have a 'hidden meaning' which only 'sophisticated' viewers can divine. The images are what you make of them and I'm not sure it really matters if what you take away from them isn't quite what the photographer intended.
Quote: As to having preconceived ideas of what a landscape pic should be, don't we all have that? I at least expect some land. (or sea)
Again, a fair point. But which of the images I linked to had neither land nor sea?
Quote: But really I don't know what I like until I see it. If it doesn't attract me, I don't feel the need to examine for any perceived meaning of the photographer may have had to make me like an otherwise unattractive image/scene.
Maybe you should add to that list of your preconceived ideas that a landscape photograph should be 'attractive'?
Whilst I'm not saying that aesthetic beauty is unimportant, I feel that a landscape image doesn't necessarily need to be conventionally attractive to be engaging, thought-provoking, impressive or, indeed, evocative.
Besides, if we don't try to understand work that isn't instantly engaging we are missing out on a good opportunity to develop our own personal styles. You can't hope to do anything that's a bit different if you only follow the well-worn path....
Quote: Again, a fair point. But which of the images I linked to had neither land nor sea?
That wasn't a something against the images linked, but answering the general question of what we thought a landscape image should be.
Quote: Maybe you should add to that list of your preconceived ideas that a landscape photograph should be 'attractive'?
Maybe I should say attractive and/or engaging. We all have preconceived ideas on what makes an image, even if it is a subconscious thing.
Quote: Whilst I'm not saying that aesthetic beauty is unimportant, I feel that a landscape image doesn't necessarily need to be conventionally attractive to be engaging, thought-provoking, impressive or, indeed, evocative.
And that's of what works for you. Great. Tell people what works for you if you feel that would helpful, as you have, but don't get too miffed if people don't do things the same way.
Quote: Besides, if we don't try to understand work that isn't instantly engaging we are missing out on a good opportunity to develop our own personal styles. You can't hope to do anything that's a bit different if you only follow the well-worn path....
Every image you see affects (plus everything we see and read) the images you make, whether you like them or not.
Whether you follow a well worn path is not necessarily a bad thing of course, certain styles of image are popular for a reason, people like them. Maybe people are seeing a small range of images to make decisions of what they like, fair enough, but you can only look at a certain number of images you find unattractive/poorly executed/badly composed, whatever, before you say I'd rather spend my time looking at things I have a better chance of liking.
But you should produce images that you are happy with. If that is something that has been seen a million times before, or something new an innovative, great as long as you are enjoying what you are doing. We all have certain types of images we like and dislike and that we dismiss out of hand. Some of that is the repetition of a certain style, and maybe because of that, (or not) it is no longer in fashion.
Do what you like, and as long as you are happy with it and enjoy doing it. The only time you have to worry about what other people think is if you want people to like it, and hopefully buy if that is your aim.
It is nice if people like my images, but it doesn't bother me too much if they don't. I enjoy my time taking pictures, and enjoy the time editing images. I'm interested in what people think, which is why I occasionally post images on the internet, because any feedback is an aid to learning, but I don't take picture for anyone else.
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