There is a strong trend within modern landscape photography to embellish, to fortify and to dramatize what is seen. It is the contemporary paradigm, a modern form of romanticism. Perhaps digital photography and post processing naturally leads to this.

Heavily burnt clouds, infinite depth of field, HDR dynamics, wide gamut colour, long exposure: all compete to give us a sense of ….? A sense of what I’m not sure! Satiation perhaps? It is today’s zeitgeist to exaggerate. We hear it in the way people speak, we listen to it (or not) in popular music, we see it in cinema. It is everywhere. We see it in photography, especially the landscape.

Nothing wrong with these kinds of photographs per se, of course. It seems that this is how you would win a landscape photography prize, if you were motivated by such things. The problem is that we start to mistake fantasy for what is real. Hyperbole becomes the new normal and we lose a sense of sensitivity.

The British countryside favours a less interdictory approach. It ‘goes with the territory’ as the saying goes. The greeness of our countryside translates well into mono-tonal ambiguity. I guess you could call it a form of quietism, an abandonment of the will, an acceptance of things as they are.

Clwydian Hills, North Wales. Adox Silvermax 100 in Rodinal 1:50. 35 mm lens

Quietism is the opposite of imposing your own visual structures onto the world. Of course our ‘seeings’ are conceptually mediated, but that is a different thing to stamping your own print onto a scene (other than by virtue of the framing of the picture) through pictorial hyperbole. Quietism is letting things come to you as they are and seeing them for what they are. No embellishment. No fantasy. The world as is, is enough isn’t it?

Please follow and like us:
error