“Why take photographs?”
“What am I trying to say?”
To answer that question, I want to look at some of the photographs I have taken in particular genres and answer another question:
“Why did I take that picture?”
A little while I took a look at some of my street photography.
This time I am going to look at some of my landscape photographs, and answer why I chose to take these particular subjects. What caught my eye and why do I want to share that image with you?
To capture a place
The most obvious reason for photographing a landscape is because you are so taken by the view, the sunrise, the sunset, the soaring mountains, the stormy sea, the city at night, the deep forest that you feel you have to stop and look and hold what you see before you.
That was the case when I took this photograph of Ely Cathedral in Cambridgeshire as it rose above the trees, under a dramatic sky.
This photograph also illustrates one of the main things you need when taking landscape photography – patience. I was cycling by and glanced to the side of the road to see the cathedral lit up as the sun broke through the clouds. By the time I had stopped and got my camera, the clouds had covered the sun and the marvellous tower of the cathedral was lost in the shade. It was a windy day, and I hoped the clouds would break again and let the sun through. So, I waited for a while and was rewarded with this photograph. I hope that I managed to do the scene justice.
To capture a moment in time
A family walk through a field of poppies on a bright summer’s day. I was not the only person attracted to the display; quite a few others were wandering through and around the field, but I was able to isolate this small group as they walked towards the trees. Their presence gives some scale to the sheer and overwhelming quantity of red flowers all the way to the horizon.
This photograph was taken as the first lockdown in the United Kingdom against the coronavirus disease was being eased; most places were still shut but people were beginning to emerge from their isolation.
A landscape photograph isn’t just of a place; it is also of a time. Sometimes that time is simply the time of day, a sunrise or a sunset. Or it could be a fleeting moment as in the light catching Ely Cathedral. Or, as in this case, it could be a unique moment as people of the UK began to emerge from lockdown and venture further out into the world around them again.
To tell a story
The next photograph zooms in on a detail in order to tell a story.
This photograph was taken somewhere in the Hertfordshire countryside and focuses on a string of barbed wire across a dirt track to some woodland on the horizon. The wire is in sharp relief, in contrast to the track and the woodland which I have thrown out of focus. I wanted the emphasis to be on the foreground to create a sense of a barrier. The background hints at what is beyond. Together I hope they tell a story of exclusion – keep out – this land is private.
To create an impression
A landscape photograph is of a place and a moment. It is also a feeling, an impression, for example the mystery of an ancient burial site.
This photograph was taken just outside Weymouth in Dorset and shows one of the neolithic burial mounds that stand out on the horizon above the town.
Rather than show the earthworks on the horizon against the sky, I chose to focus in on a detail in the foreground; the flint lying on the grass (similar pieces would have been used to dig out the burial place). In the background a solitary figure walks towards the burial mound, echoing the funeral procession that took place here thousands of years ago.
To make sense of the complex
A landscape is made up of many elements, an urban landscape even more so. Sometimes the easiest way to make sense of it is to rise above it as I did in this shot of a major junction in the heart of the bustling City of London
Finally, sometimes to make sense of what you see you need to remove as many elements as possible
A marker buoy, the sea, the sky and a ripple
A boat heading out of harbour into a mist
Sunset over the sea
And finally, nothing but the sky