Exercise 1.1: Preconceptions

Considering the origins of landscape photography, it is very apt that this photography course should begin with drawing a picture of a landscape. The picture below is my own view of what a landscape is.


Having taken a long time to getting round to, and completing this task, taking a photograph of a landscape scene, rather than drawing a picture, would have been so much quicker. Considering this, it is clear to see how photography is the preferred method of capturing such scenes. However, maybe I should be taking longer to take a photograph of a landscape, after all the artist invests a lot of time thinking about viewpoint, light, and composition. Some may perceive that taking a photograph requires less input from the photographer. Then again there are good and bad landscape photographs. Similarly, there are good and bad landscape paintings. 

Before picking up a pencil to start drawing, my first preconception was the orientation of the paper, 'landscape'. I never once thought of creating a landscape view using portrait. Looking back at my drawing it is clear that there is a strong bias towards nature. Fields, sheep, water and a tree make up the composition. The fence, that runs across the Middle of the frame, is the only trace of human activity. Furthermore, there are clouds in the sky, so I would consider weather to be a feature of portraying a landscape. 

It was during art lessons, in my early school days, that my own view of what a landscape is started to be embedded. Art lessons would often involve painting a picture of a scene. The weather would be a key feature of the picture, together with many natural elements, such as trees, fields and animals.

The purpose of going for a walk in the countryside is to 'take in the view', whereas the urban environment is a backdrop for more important concerns, such as shopping or socialising. 

Postcards, depicting picturesque views are sent and received, in an attempt to encapsulate the location that has been visited. Furthermore, travel brochures are illustrated with scenic views, thus perpetuating the notion of what a landscape photograph is. Meanwhile, the landscape paintings that hang in art galleries, conform to a similar code. Therefore the camera quickly creates the same scene that the artist's brush attempts to replicate. 

Judging by the size of the course file, it is clear to me that there is much more to landscape photography than I have been exposed to. I am looking forward to challenging these preconceptions that I have and viewing the world from different perspectives.