I stated in an earlier post how I was intrigued by comments made by David Hockney about photography in general and landscape in particular.
In an article for The Guardian, he discusses with Martin Gayford what turns a picture into a masterpiece. The landscape painting they talk about is Monet’s Sunset on the Seine in Winter (1880).
Hockney says “When a human being is looking at a scene the questions are: What do I see first? What do I see second? What do I see third? A photograph sees it all at once – in one click of the lens from a single point of view – but we don’t. And it’s the fact that it takes us time to see it that makes the space.
Renaissance European perspective has a vanishing point, but it does not exist in Japanese and Chinese painting. And a view from sitting still, from a stationary point, is not the way you usually see landscape; you are always moving through it. If you put a vanishing point anywhere, it means you’ve stopped. In a way, you’re hardly there.”
This concept of always moving through a landscape started me thinking about what I would like to try for this assignment. It takes me back to the first exercise on what I think a landscape is, and where I gave what is a very traditional view and perspective. Is it a view from a particular point at a particular moment in time?
Hockney had tried to overcome some of the limitations of single point perspective with his collages, such as Pearblossom Highway, where the overall image is built up from many different photographs, all taken from a slightly different perspective. Many of his landscape paintings contain multiple perspectives on the scene.
But what about this concept of movement – do we only view a landscape from a single point, stop looking and then move on to another point take look from a different perspective. Or do we build up a picture of the landscape from a mass of different images, some close-up, others in the distance.
This made me think about how I would like to represent a local meadow in an image. It is an area I go to frequently when taking the dog for a walk. It is probably best described as an unremarkable scene, but is it a landscape and what makes it so? Surely landscape doesn’t have to be beautiful or sublime, but even the most ordinary can be interesting if you consider what is influencing your view. When on my dog walks I realised that would look at the overall scene, but that as I moved through the landscape my attention would be drawn to individual aspects in it. These would change over time and certainly be affected by the seasons.
So I thought how could I represent this? I thought initially of a montage ala Hockney but wasn’t sure that this would necessarily work so well, one of the essences of the success of works such as Pearblossom Highway is that it adds texture to a single scene and challenges your perspectival view of that scene. What I wanted to do was present an image that summed up the individual element that constituted a landscape to me at a particualr time as I moved around it.
I decided to try a collage of the scene, this is my first attempt.
It doesn’t fully work yet, I need to build it up into something more cohesive, but it is a start. I will definitely try to carry on working on the concept – but I will probably take some more ‘traditional’ landscape views as well as a back-up!
I have been looking for locations for the more ‘traditional’ view and I think I have discovered one near to where I live.
This view should allow me to show the seasons with the changing crops in the foreground as well as the foliage on the trees. The sky and lighting can be different.
This was just a preliminary exercise, what I need to do now is decide on the composition, focal length and time of day and weather conditions under which to take the photograph to show the changes over the year.
I have now tried taking the photograph from different angles with different focal lengths, but I’m now having second thoughts about this as a view – just how compelling is it?
If I do persist with this then I think that it needs the wider view, I don’t think that the first shot above really works. I might still try it and wait for the right lighting conditions or I may try elsewhere. This view has the advantage of being really close but I need to see how it will look when the light is right.
From the experience of undertaking Assignment 1 I realise a lot more planning is going to be needed for the final assignment, so I have established a separate post for Assignment 6 planning