Mention ‘landscape photography’ these days and many would immediately think of that style of photography that looks to the ‘beautiful’ or to the ‘sublime’ or to the ‘picturesque’ in our countryside. Perhaps we have Edmund Burke’s ‘A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful‘ to blame for that.
Romanticism in landscape photography is nothing new of course. 19th century Romantic photography provided a position which enabled a counter-reaction into Modernism.
When I see the two words ‘Zen’ and ‘Photography’ together my in-built bullshit alarm starts to ring. An on-line search of the words ‘Zen’ + ‘Photography’ will retrieve ethereal long exposure landscapes and seascapes or articles about the need for an empty mind when pressing the camera’s shutter. And and so on. Empty indeed!
I enjoyed taking this photograph. It is just a few minutes away from where I live. Five women had stopped to take in the scene with their sandwiches.
A view within a view type of picture, like we are eaves-dropping on a private moment. Of course, we are not secretly listening to a conversation; rather we are secretly sharing a vista with five women except ours is more inclusive in that it contains theirs. Or so it seems. Of course, there might have been someone behind me looking at me taking in five women taking in a scene.
Photography has this strange quality. It engenders the idea that the vista starts at you, with no cognizance of what is behind; that the world starts with you. But as we peer intently into the picture a doubt emerges… The world does not start anywhere. Like a photograph, this is a neat but necessary illusion.
At a recent exhibition of Rembrandt’s printmaking techniques I was struck by the similarities between Etching, Bromoil and Paper Negative printing. All show the hand of the artist. All share a certain sensibility.
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.
This site describes my efforts at learning film photography and darkroom printing.
I see film photography and darkroom printing as two sides of the same coin, inseparable. Taking a picture fashions the options that you have in the darkroom. Printing a photograph tells you how you might have better seen the image when taking that photograph.
I am no expert and I hope that, by writing these posts, I am not holding myself out to be one. If nothing else, I will at least be helping to preserve a craft that is in danger of disappearing.
My aim? I aspire to Josef Sudek’s maxim: ‘No approach, no recipe. Each thing to be done differently’.
Abandoned farm house, North Dakota, lith printed on Foma paper