I’ve realised that I’ve been mulling ideas through for my assignment and for the transitions project without adding them to my journal.

Assignment 1 Beauty and the sublime

I’ve been considering, researching and testing various options, including disappearing lines (alleys, railways lines), industrial beauty and brick railway bridges.

I think I’ve now discounted the first two options.

Disappearing lines will be very hard to find enough good locations for in the time I’ve got and I have explored this locally quite a bit. From the test shots I’ve taken they’ve got to be very good with exceptionally long straight lines to be effective and are very hard to find.

I like the idea of Industrial beauty but I have a location problem for this and it isn’t an option at this time.

I’m going to e mail my Tutor and make a start on my always preferred option of the beauty and the sublime in a brick railway bridge nearby. I have and will continue to scout for other brick railway bridges I could also use, however my feeling this morning is that there are none like this particular one and I think that there is enough material for me in this one bridge.

I’m still exploring options for my transitions project but have been testing and considering:

  • A view over the common with houses in the distance – no very exciting?
  • A view to include part of the tatty British Legion club – difficult to get vegetation/natural landscape as well.
  • An area by a small stream and old road bridge.
  • An allotment – a bit one dimensional and obvious?

I’ve got further explorations to do in the next couple of days and then I’ll make a decision.

Next entry:


Landscape Journal


I’m feeling inspired having just spent an evening immersed in the work of photographer Burtynsky. First I attended a session where he was in conversation with a journalist about his new work The Anthropocine project, (The human epoch) as well as his previous works, Water mark and Manufactured Landscapes. Later I viewed his previous film Manufactured landscapes in the cinema. I attended as I’d previously seen and been intrigued by his photographic work at Photo London earlier this year. I will write more detailed reflections on this artists talk and film shortly in my research area.

It was useful to discover the partnership that the Photographers gallery has with the Regent Street cinema and to experience visual art at what was a new venue for me.

I’m planning this weekend to firm up my choice of a place, or two to use for assignment six transitions and have begun my research into beauty and the sublime.

Next entry:


Exercise 1.4: What is a photographer?

Marius De Zayas (1880–1961) was an essayist, intellectual and curator of modern art and was closely allied to the 291 gallery. His essay ‘Photography and Photography and Artistic- Photography’, first published in Camera Work no. 41 (1913), makes a distinction between the ‘artist photographer’ and ‘photographers’. Read the essay closely, summarising De Zayas’ key points. In your learning log, write down your responses to his point of view, and consider whether these questions are still relevant today. As a practitioner yourself, where do you stand on this issue? See: (copy link into your browser) or

Photography and photography and artistic- photography, Marius De Zayas (1880-1961)

A summary of De Zayas key points:

  • Saw photography as heralding a new artistic age, dispelling convention bound images. Supported the shift from Pictorialism to Abstraction.
  • Believed that photography is not art, as art is an expression of the conception of an idea whereas photography is the verification of a fact.
  • Thought Art’s original purpose was to represent the form of religious conception. As this has been abandoned so Art’s soul has gone and art is left with form alone.
  • Form in contemporary art is just adaptations of previous forms, unless like Picasso it begins from primitive art.
  • Abstract representation of form has been replaced by unimaginative uncreative art.
  • Imagination is more than contemplation, memory and comparison. Imagination is a combining of all of these to create new ideas and images. Imagination is not true to a particular form.
  • A true photographer needs a perfect consciousness to have a clear view to understand the beauty and reality of form – the material truth.
  • Art presents the emotional or intellectual truth, the emotions experienced by the artist, whereas “Photography teaches us to realize and feel our own emotions”.
  • Photography supplies the material truth of form, “It is not to be the means of expression for the intellect of man”.
  • Photography is not art, but photographs can be made into art”.
  • The difference between photography and artistic photography is that photography is the objectivity of form whilst artistic photography “uses the objectivity of form to express a preconceived idea in order to convey an emotion”, veiling an object with the subject. In the first the photographer represents something outside of himself and the artistic photographer represents something within himself.

My responses to De Zayas ideas:

  • Photography was certainly a new artistic medium, but unlike De Zayas I would argue that it should be an expression of an idea not just a fact or an accurate material representation, photography should be a means of expression. However I note that he does allow that photographs can be made into art!
  • I don’t believe that just because religion is not so wholly embraced today that art is abandoned and that art is now form only; Art remains fully expressive and creative in my view.
  • I do agree that imagination is a combination of contemplation, memory and comparison into new ideas.
  • I don’t agree that photography needs to be a conscious act to appreciate beauty or form. Mindful photography where you sense and feel a place object or moment for instance can be quite unconscious for instance but produce beauty.
  • I do like the way he ultimately distinguishes between photography and artistic photography to allow for expression of an idea, emotion or something inside the photographer in the later category.

I was especially interested that he that cites that the highest points of these two sides of photography were reached by Steichen as a realistic artist “the expression of a system of representation: the realistic one” and by Stieglitz as an experimentalist, eliminating the subject in represented form as a pure expression of the object.

Certainly some of Steichen’s work is full of detail and clarity:f865012ddeda54d2d15b1bcc5605d303

Lotus, Mt. Kisco, New York, 1915 (, 2018)

Yet Steichen’s image Pond moonlight is given as an example by Bates as painterly artistic with its soft focus and blur:stiechen

Moonlight: The Pond 1904 (, 2018)

It is certainly seductive and indistinct, both a painting and a photograph probably with some hand colouring, as pictorialists did. In fact a year before creating Moonlight, Steichen wrote an essay arguing that altering photos was no different than choosing when and where to click the shutter. “Photographers, he said, always have a perspective that necessarily distorts the authenticity of their images”. (100 Photographs |The Most Influential Images of All Time, 2018). He experimented a lot with photographic processes. This seems contrary to De Zayers perception about Steichens photographic practices.

Stieglitz, did break away from the pictorialist photographers and took his own approach. He used natural elements like rain snow and steam and compositional elements to make visually pleasing images. He believed that truth is relative and photographs are an expression of a photographers feelings for the subject. His famous photograph the steerage (1907) was a study in light and form and seen as the beginning of modernist photography. stieglitz_alfred_3

(The Art Story, 2018)

 Interestingly the images in his “Camera work” journal 1911 were accompanied by a Cubist drawing by Picasso, whom De Zayas grew to admire and apparently Picasso praised The Steerage “for the way it transformed its conventional subject into a striking, collage-like depiction of different spaces”(The Art Story, 2018).

My final reflections:

Art and photography have moved on a lot since he wrote his essay. His arguments were fresh and held wider validity than they do today. In a way photography has returned to the earlier era when photographs were altered physically, but can be altered now not in a physical, but in a digital manner.

Photographers can and do make many more choices now than a hundred years ago. They may do it to represent in a documentary style whether entirely truthful or not, or in an expressive artistic style as De Zayas sets out, or in many other ways that he could have not forseen. Even sharp detailed photography now can be expressive and can be used in an untruthful manner, whilst soft artistic photography can represent a truth.


100 Photographs | The Most Influential Images of All Time. (2018). How This Picture Established Photography As Art. [online] Available at: [Accessed 14 Oct. 2018]. (2018). Edward Steichen – Artists – Howard Greenberg Gallery. [online] Available at: [Accessed 14 Oct. 2018]. (2018). [online] Available at: [Accessed 14 Oct. 2018].

The Art Story. (2018). Alfred Stieglitz Overview and Analysis. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 Oct. 2018].


Exercise 1.3: Establishing conventions

Using internet search engines and any other resources, find at least 12 examples of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century landscape paintings. List all of the commonalities you can find across your examples. Consider the same sorts of things as you did for the sketching exercise at the start of Part One. Where possible, try to find out why the examples you found were painted (e.g. public or private commission). Your research should provide you with some examples of the visual language and conventions that were known to the early photographers. Now try to find some examples of landscape photographs from any era that conform to these conventions. Collate your research and note down your reflections in your learning log.

The paintings:



The Stonemason’s Yard 1726-30 (, 2018) Canaletto (1697-1768).

Canaletto mostly painted crystal-clear scenes of famous sights, this view which was probably made to order for a Venetian client, shows a more intimate view of the city.


Gainsborough, Thomas; Romantic Landscape; Romantic Landscape with Sheep at a Spring

Romantic Landscape with Sheep at a Spring, ca. 1783 (, 2018)  Thomas Gainsborough RA (1727 – 1788 )

This was thought to have been painted for diploma work, but it seems now that this wasn’t necessary for him so is unlikely; it is the size generally hung above a chimney. This is a romantic landscape and idealised and not realistic. The sheep are spotlit implying the sun is to the left, though in the background it seems to be rising or setting near the mountain. There is a hollow’ in the centre of the painting which seems to be sheltering the figures and animals.



Lake of Vico 1783 (, 2018) John Robert Cozens, 1752–1797.

Cozens was a draftsman and a watercolour landscape artist, this was probably painted for a wealthy patron from sketches he made when travelling in Italy before 1779.



The Abbey in the Oak Wood (1808-10) (Artble, 2018) Caspar David Friedrich.

A German romantic painter, Friedrich made sketches and then painted in his studio. This painting seems unusual for its time with the painting divided into two by a horizontal line of fog. It could be described as a political statement as it “reflects a nationalistic pride in the monuments of the German Gothic past that were particularly significant during the years of Napoleonic occupation… 20th-century German Expressionists would also look back to the Gothic as a source of national and religious strength” (Artble, 2018).



The Hay Wain 1821 (The National Gallery, 2018) John Constable.

It was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1821, the year it was painted, but failed to find a buyer. However it was awarded a gold medal by Charles X when exhibited in France. His idealised rural landscapes influenced many other painters. Constable didn’t see a conflict between painting in a mechanical way (for instance the way he accurately represented cloud formations) and as a poetic representation.


Norham Castle, Sunrise c.1845 by Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851

Norham Castle, Sunrise circa 1845 (, 2018) Joseph Mallord William Turner.

This was made from watercolours of sunrise in 1797 but painted on his return in 1831, though Turner never viewed it as finished. The ghostly dark ruin emerges from a blast of white light in the centre of the canvas. It has been suggested that it is a painting about the turbulence of the nation state of Britain “Norham Castle, Sunrise…is a painting about ghosts, violence and the limits of national identity” (Jones, 2018). Apparently it is topographically correct and Turner painted it in Scotland whilst looking at England.



The Lake of Thun 1854, (The National Gallery, 2018) Alexandre Calame

The painter’s record-book shows that the picture was originally commissioned in 1852 by H. Vaughan.



Rainy Season in the Tropics, 1866, deYoung Museum (Stanska et al., 2018). Frederic Edwin Church.

Though it appears unrealistic it includes scientifically accurate and observed elements, the double rainbow which has a reversed colour spectrum in the second of its two bands (Alexander’s band). The tropical fauna is based on botanical sketches he made while living in Jamaica. It has been interpreted as a reflection of Church’s renewed optimism, both about his personal life and about a spirit of national unity following the end of the American Civil War” (Stanska et al., 2018).



Jefferson Rock, Harper’s Ferry, circa 1820. (, 2018) Joshua Shaw (1776-1860).

This is a picturesque style, a theatrical approach to compositional arrangement and an idyllic conception of man’s dominion over the land, but also influenced by his interest in inspiring primal powers of nature.  He wanted to paint a series of essential American landscapes for the middle classes and collaborated in a projects to produce Picturesque Views of American Scenery.  Though it has a Turneresque sky he focused on trying to depict the rock formation.



Autumn on the Seine, Argenteuil (1873) (The Eclectic Light Company, 2018)  Claude Monet (1840-1926)

This has the gestural brushstroke and brilliant colour style of the late 1860s and early 1870s impressionism. The trees and buildings lack detail but the atmosphere is strong.


Grimshaw, John Atkinson, 1836-1893; Lights in the Harbour, Scarborough

John Atkinson Grimshaw (1836–1893) (Lights in the Harbour, Scarborough., 2018)

He made a living as an artist through the patronage of Leeds Philosopical and Literacy Society and had a second home in Scarborough. He was influenced by the pre-raphaelites, their use of accurate colour and vivid detail, although he used his artist skill with the light to create a poetic feel rather than a realistic feel to the view.



Landscape with Poplars about 1885-7, (The National Gallery, 2018) Paul Cézanne.

Again an experimentation with brushstrokes and brilliant colour to suggest detail and texture.



The Starry Night 1889 (, 2018) Vincent Van Gogh

This was the view from his room in the asylum, he has idealised the village and used impressionist techniques to convey the brightness of the stars in the sky, which for him symbolised hope. His exaggerated brushstrokes paved the way for expressionism.

Conventions and commonalities:

I found the easiest way to collate this information was to enter it on a grid:

The most common feature was the presentation of the landscape a romantic idealised vision, along with 12/13 of the paintings I have shown being landscape presentations. Light is also a key feature often used to frame the scene and the sky seems particularly important to the artists whether depicted in a realistic or atmospheric way.

Examples of landscape photographs from any era that conform to these conventions.

download.jpgansell adams

Clearing Winter Storm, Yosemite Valley, California, ca. 1937 Ansel Adams (Cain, 2018)

This photograph has leading lines, central light framed by hills and trees and shaded foreground.

         White Goose Pathway, Huangshan Mountains China                      (Alegria, 2018)

          2008 Michael Kenna (Huxley-Parlour Gallery, 2018).

Kenna here employs the techniques of framing and using central light on his subject, indeed coulisses with the trees as theatre wings. He is also illustrating the sublime power of nature. It is a departure from a landscape format. The second image uses the traditional compositional technique of leading lines but in a modern minimal way.


Yangtze: The Long River 2007 Nadav Kander (LensCulture, 2018)

Mostly his work does not conform to the older landscape conventions but this image does have small figures to give scale to the landscape and has leading lines. It is also a response to cultural change.

Brazil, 2005. © Sebastião Salgado                   Alaska, 2009 ©Sebastião Salgado                         Amazonas Images / nbpictures (Edge, 2018)                    (Alegria, 2018)

The first image uses figures to give a scale but it is the light on the subject that connects this to earlier landscape art. The second highlights the sublime beauty of nature and the light is uses again in a compositional way.

David Brookover   (Alegria, 2018)                       (RFOTOFOLIO, 2018)

These images show in both leading lines and in the second the framing of the landscape by the rocks.

All of these post 19th century landscape images have visible sky which is used to artist effect. I had to search through the work of these modern landscape photographers to find images that adhere to some of the older landscape art conventions as most of their work departs from these; their work is driven by other things than traditional landscape techniques, for instance emotional responses, environmental concerns, the need to capture natural beauty.

My learning points:

  • I knew nothing about the conventions of landscape painting so this exercise has been useful.
  • It has been interesting to see the development of landscape painting and how this has translated into landscape photography.
  • I guess that conventions have been established to give an impression of 3 dimensions on a 2 dimensional surface and hence some will be used by modern landscape artists.
  • Having an awareness of such conventions has heightened my way of looking at the landscape.


Alegria, F. (2018). 10 Famous Landscape Photographers and Their Photos. [online] Available at: [Accessed 4 Oct. 2018].

Artble. (2018). The Abbey in the Oakwood. [online] Available at: [Accessed 2 Oct. 2018]. (2018). Art UK | Discover Artworks. [online] Available at: [Accessed 2 Oct. 2018].

Cain, A. (2018). The Photograph That Made Ansel Adams Famous. [online] Artsy. Available at: [Accessed 4 Oct. 2018].

Edge, K. (2018). Sebastião Salgado – Genesis. [online] On Landscape. Available at: [Accessed 4 Oct. 2018]. (2018). 10 Facts that You Don’t Know About “Starry Night” by Vincent van Gogh. [online] Available at: [Accessed 2 Oct. 2018].

Huxley-Parlour Gallery. (2018). White Goose Pathway, Huangshan Mountains, China, 2008 | Huxley-Parlour Gallery. [online] Available at: [Accessed 4 Oct. 2018].

Jones, J. (2018). Jonathan Jones on British landscapes. [online] the Guardian. Available at: [Accessed 4 Oct. 2018].

LensCulture, N. (2018). Yangtze: The Long River – Photographs and text byNadav Kander | LensCulture. [online] LensCulture. Available at: [Accessed 4 Oct. 2018].

RFOTOFOLIO. (2018). David Brookover Photographer. [online] Available at: [Accessed 4 Oct. 2018]. (2018). Romantic Landscape with Sheep at a Spring | Works of Art | RA Collection | Royal Academy of Arts. [online] Available at: [Accessed 2 Oct. 2018].

Stanska, Z., Stanska, Z., Stanska, Z., Stanska, Z., Stanska, Z., Stanska, Z. and Stanska, Z. (2018). Frederic Edwin Church, Rainy Season in the Tropics – – Art History Stories. [online] – Art History Stories. Available at: [Accessed 2 Oct. 2018]. (2018). Work of the week: Norham Castle, Sunrise by J.M.W. Turner. [online] Available at: [Accessed 2 Oct. 2018].

The Eclectic Light Company. (2018). Trees in the landscape: 8. Claude Monet and his poplar series. [online] Available at: [Accessed 2 Oct. 2018].

The National Gallery, L. (2018). Alexandre Calame | The Lake of Thun | NG1786 | National Gallery, London. [online] Available at: [Accessed 2 Oct. 2018]. (2018). [online] Available at: [Accessed 4 Oct. 2018]. (2018). A Paradise of Riches: Joshua Shaw and the Southern Frontier. [online] Available at: [Accessed 2 Oct. 2018].

The National Gallery, L. (2018). John Constable | The Hay Wain | NG1207 | National Gallery, London. [online] Available at: [Accessed 2 Oct. 2018].

The National Gallery, L. (2018). Paul Cézanne | Landscape with Poplars | NG6457 | National Gallery, London. [online] Available at: [Accessed 2 Oct. 2018]. (2018). Lake of Vico Between Rome and Florence. [online] Available at: [Accessed 2 Oct. 2018].









Exercise 1.2: Photography in the museum or in the gallery?

Read Rosalind Krauss’s essay ‘Photography’s Discursive Spaces: Landscape/View’. Summarise Krauss’s key points in your learning log (in note form) and add any comments or reflections. The essay was first published in 1982 in Art Journal Vol. 42, No. 4, pp. 311–19 but you’ll find it at:


The essay begins with a comparison of two images of the same subject, one shot in 1868 by a landscape photographer and the other a lithograph copy of the first produced for a geology book in 1878. The first lacks clarity and the second shows details. These are given as examples of how a photograph is made to fit its purpose and audience as the lithograph produced for a scientific book has had the detail restored to it, whilst the landscape photograph operates in the discursive space of the aesthetic, “the space of exhibition” a 19th century concept of a displays of art, a signifier of inclusion and also a ground for criticism.

Krauss essay

After 1860 landscape transformed into a “flattened and compressed experience of space” spread across a lateral surface, a modernist concept. This was devoid of perspective, with sharp value contrast which converted depth into a diagonal ordering of the surface, such as lines of trees, often hung in series the size of walls in galleries. The essay moves on to discuss how landscape photography was legitimised in the western pictorial tradition, such as in Galassi’s Museum of Modern art exhibition Before Photography made this point. He wanted to prove that the prominent perspective in 19th century outdoor photography which flattens and fragments was developed earlier in painting, and that therefore photography is aesthetic rather than of a technical tradition. He showed landscape pictures to prove that two dimensional order can give as powerful tone, texture and depth as pictures, and that photography is intended as art.

Krauss asks as O’Sullivan’s photographs were stereographic views and not accessible to the public, were they art? I now understand the differences between a 9×12 plate camera and the camera for stereoscopic views. Stereoscopic space is perspectival space raised to a higher power, organised as tunnel vision as the viewer’s space is masked by the instrument and the image thus appears multi layered and the eyes have to refocus as they move through the photograph, this is different to the scanning of a painting. The exaggerated depth and focus isolates objects that are viewed, becoming the centre of attention, a singularity. Krauss settles on these stereoscopic views being separate from aesthetic landscapes.

I have learnt that it is the museum that organised the representation of art and as 19th century photography belonged in museums scholars decided that images there are landscapes rather than views and attribute to them the notion of the concept artist and oeuvre. Krauss questions whether these terms should be applied to such work, particularly the terms artist and oeuvre, was the work necessarily sustained and their own bodies of work? Giving as examples Francis Frith and Matthew Brady whose work was mostly their employees. The work of Eugene Atget as is art is also examined, Szarkowski notes how Aget’s changed from having complete discrete objects, frontally lit to objects cut by the photographic frame asymmetrically positioned but is still undecided on his intentions behind his 10,000 plates. Interestingly Krauss assigns him the post of artist retrospectively.

These are all attempts to dismantle the 19th century photographic archive, to analysis the sets of practices, institutions and relationships to which 19th century photography originally belonged to reassemble it within categories previously constituted by art and history. Krauss concludes that “subject” is the fulcrum in deciding whether photographs were intended and created or simply catalogues.

My thoughts:

I have learnt about the beginnings of landscape photography, stereoscopic photography but most of all have been given much to consider as I go forward:

  • I have not yet immersed or done enough research to produce a well-informed response but my gut instinct is to ask why do we need to know what the artist’s original intention was to decide whether something is a work of art or not, surely it should be the viewer’s response to it that decides if it is a work of art.
  • I do feel it is wrong to classify something as a work of art because it sits in a gallery.
  • I also struggle with the concept of an artist where there has to be a process and development of the artist and work into a body of work or an oeuvre and will seek to find actual exceptions to this though I can’t give any examples immediately.

Questions that I will consider when viewing landscape photographs are:

  • Is it a landscape photograph a view or a landscape?
  • Is an artist only and artist if they have developed a body of work?
  • What makes a photograph of the aesthetic category or not?
  • Is every piece of work in a gallery art?





Project 1 Thinking about Landscape

Exercise 1.1: Preconceptions

For this first exercise we ask you to completely abandon technique, pick up a pencil and draw a very rough sketch of a ‘landscape’ picture. The purpose of this exercise is to examine and  express your preconceptions about the genre.

My rough sketch:


This exercise shouldn’t be laboured; don’t think too much about it but consider the following questions:

  • What shape is the picture? It’s a landscape orientation
  • What sort of terrain is depicted? The terrain is a river estuary, where the tide is out and mud flats are exposed. There are trees, hills and grassy sand dunes in the background.
  • What’s in it? Are there people? Other that natural subjects there is a house but no people.
  • How are the subjects arranged? The river leads you into the landscape towards the house and my favourite place the beach by the sand dunes.
  • How might you describe the ‘mood’ of the picture? The mood of the picture is cold and bare despite the trees.

Reflect on why you’ve drawn what you have. Consider what might have influenced your current understanding of the genre.

I chose the subject matter as it is a favourite view of mine. The way that have drawn the scene is influenced by the way I look as a photographer. I have no formal knowledge of landscape painting and in taking landscape photographs so far I have shot by intuition rather than conventions.

Also, write a few lines on why you chose to study this course and what you hope to learn from it. It will also serve as an interesting reference point when you come to the end of the course.

I have chosen Landscape as my first level 2 course because it will be a complete change from the work I’ve done at level 1, and it will be a challenge. I hope that through it I can continue my journey of visual and conceptual exploration and bring my own perspective to it.



At last I’ve had a few days immersing myself in landscape photography. I’ve enjoyed working through exercises 1.1-1.3 and just have to post them on my blog.

In the meantime I’ve been considering spaces that I might use to record the changes on throughout this course, but I’m holding off deciding/putting a couple to my tutor until I’ve got a little further on with the course work. On my short list at the moment are:

  • A woodland space, shady and with varying degrees of bogginess/water level throughout the year.
  • A view from a railway bridge down the track.
  • A space around a railway bridge by a stream.
  • The local allotments.

None of these fulfill my initial idea of using a space part rural and part urban, but it is difficult to find this on my doorstep and if I am to repeatedly photograph the space and I am to take advantage of spur of the moment urges to photograph then I do feel it should be a space close to home. I will try some exploratory shots of them all and continue searching also.

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