Demonstration of technical and visual skills

  • To show the commonalities and individual nature of the roundabouts I spent time closely observing before shooting from different angles and perspectives, at different times of day to get a good visual perception of them.
  • The variety of weather and lighting conditions over these periods was a challenge, in terms of both consistency and quality, but I tried to shoot on cloudy days and returned often to improve or try different light conditions (direction or quality) to obtain the images.
  • I maintained a good depth of field and tried to keep the focal length fairly wide to capture a good range of detail.
  • I shot handheld because the access and need to move around the traffic made it often unsafe for me or the drivers to be immobile in a space.
  • I looked for compositions which emphasised the features of the landscapes around the roundabouts but also gave a perspective that I think is interesting but reflects my response to each space.

Quality of outcome

  • When editing the images I checked that each matched my concept to expose both their common and individual features.
  • External factors such as variations in traffic flow, and light brought challenges to consistency across a series. I tried hard to bring consistency to the work as it evolved, I re shot as needed to gain similar light conditions, used a consistently good depth of field, and a fairly similar focal length, but most importantly a perspective chosen to emphasis my position and response to the space.
  • I have improved the calibration of my monitor by adding hardware and software and believe this has helped me to produce colour in the images which is closer to the actual.
  • I am still learning how to make my own prints; I have improved my control on the border size and the colours. I am still experimenting with the brightness of the images and am particularly aware that I should lighten and reprint image 12 – I fact I will probably re shoot as it to get better light.
  • I have reflected on how to present these images to viewers and am contemplating adding a soundscape to the images.

Demonstration of creativity

  • There was a lot of exploration whilst forming this work. I began with ideas which I adapted as I began to understand the landscapes better and was pleased with how my work evolved.
  • My initial photographic intention was fostered by practitioners such as Lee Friedlander, Paul Graham and Robert Adams, but my concept and my own shooting style developed as I worked into the project.
  • I think that my presentation idea shows creativity.


  • As usual I read and researched widely and the coursework gave me good starting points. I found the work of the Photographers presented who shot by roads fascinating and learnt from this how photography can be used as a tool for research. I learnt from the typology photographers how this approach can bring forth close observation. I particularly enjoyed the reading on psychogeography and will research this field further. The mapping and appropriation work interested me less but it did stimulate me to use street view when planning my shooting for this assignment.
  • I reflected throughout the process of making this series and although I began with what I thought was a strong idea I allowed myself to go with new ideas as they evolved and think I looked critically when reviewing image and questioned my ideas until I formed an intention, concept and narrative that I believed was effective. I have set this process out in my learning log: ……
  • I would like to become more reflective in my journal writing, but have still to get on top of making regular entries.
  • I could develop this work further by exploring and capturing other edgeland in the urban landscape.

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Nicola South   Student number: 514516


Produce a series of approximately 12 photographs that are made on, or explore the idea of, a journey. The journey that you document may be as long or as short as you like. You may choose to re- examine a familiar route, such as a commute to work or another routine activity, or it may be a journey into unfamiliar territory. You may travel by any means available. 


In this work I used a journey as a tool for researching and defining territory. My journey is one around a town on foot via roundabouts and the roundabouts are the motif of the series. Each image addresses the relationship of myself as the photographer to my geographical but also the psychological environment. My perspective on these spaces is that they qualify as “Edgelands” although in an urban environment “we pass through without regarding; untranslated landscape…meant to be seen from a car window” (Farley 2013). These spaces are passed through but largely ignored, except for the signage and traffic signals,  devised to be traveled through in a vehicle, but I passed through them as a pedestrian.

My working methods were influenced by the photographers working with topologies and the new topographies such as the Bechers, Frank Gohike, and Robert Adams. I learnt from them that work can be topological, have consistent technical rigour, yet have the style of a particular photographer, bring the actuality of a place to viewers’ attention and may also render it beautiful. When on location used a psychogeographical approach allowing myself to immerse myself, feel the environment and respond to it. This is not a work of psychogeography, but I have used the modernist approach, that it is the nature of the depiction, not just the depiction that is important.

With this in mind I experimented with various approaches. I was influenced initially by Paul Graham’s “The A1 The Great North Road” (1980-82), his documentary colour pictures of roadside landscape; in particular the variety, colour and clarity of his images. I was similarly stimulated by Martin Parr’s representations of motorways, ring roads and traffic junctions in his work “Boring” (1999), the cleanness of his images (lack of distracting details) and the colour work. I explored Lee Friedlander’s work “America by car” (2010) but was influenced more by the wider body of his work and the way that he uses geometry and lines to distort and add more dimensions to his images.

I moved on from photographing “straight” typologies, whilst still trying to capture the commonalities and individual facets of each roundabout, to presenting them in my own way. I have presented them through my perception as a pedestrian as well as my perspective as a photographer seeking a satisfying composition. I finally chose to photograph the roundabouts as empty as possible to expose them, as they are the subject (not the traffic) and eliminate distractions from the viewers. I focused on the often chaotic signage and other “hardware” that is the fabric of roundabouts, kept a good depth of field and a fairly wide angle of view both to give consistent visual outcomes but also to share these landscapes in the way that they presented to me when in them. The lines that often dominate in the images are symbols of interruptions to these landscapes that traffic, noise and pollution cause me both physically and psychologically.

I have given my thoughts on the effectiveness of different elements of this project in the reflections against the assessment criteria that follow this post. However I will say here that as I immersed myself in these roundabout landscapes I formed a good understanding of each and I do think the images expose some of the similarities and differences at each, which was my concept,; it is a lineal and comparative journey.


Farley, P. (2013). Edgelands. [Place of publication not identified]: Camden.




This work is a journey into the landscapes of roundabouts, places often isolated from pedestrians and unobserved by motorists.  It is a visual reflection on a landscape that has human contact but in a distant manner. My journey through this territory of roundabouts is both lineal and comparative. I hope my visual perspective shared here will cause some reflection and possibly an intention to look closer next time.


              Unnamed: 1.3 miles


Swing Swang: 1.6 miles


Daneshill: 1.9 miles


Crockford: 3.1 miles


Oakridge: 3.7 miles


Houndmills: 5 miles


Eastrop : 7.8 miles


Victory: 8.3 miles


West Ham: 9.5 miles



Brighton Hill: 10.7 miles


Winchester Road: 11.2 miles


Blackdam: 13.2 miles



I would like to see this work displayed inside an oval or round setting with exits for viewers; much as roundabout is:

i will also experiment with capturing the noise of road traffic at the roundabouts and attach to the images with the intention of it playing in the gallery in the space that the images occupy.

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Doughnut city

Thinking about landscape as a way of defining territory and as a way of researching it I decided after other considerations to explore the environment of my local town which has an inordinate number of roundabouts and is hence nicknamed doughnut city, using roundabouts as the motif for my work.

Mind map of research and initial ideas:


I began with a topological approach, but found the results to be very dull:

I then began to think about what makes each roundabout different, using a comparative approach like the typology or new topographical approaches did. The elements I was trying to emphasis were for instance:


A lot of bus traffic                          “Tescos” roundabout                 Stone sculptures


Lovely trees                                   Near the “sheds”

As I was shooting I continually questioned why and what I was trying to achieve. I experimented with uprights dissecting the frame rather like Lee Friedlander. I looked really hard as I’d realised in my research that close observation is vital and returned again and again to the same locations, in different light, weather, and traffic flows.

I was torn between adding aesthetic of some kind and recording just what I saw, whilst also considering locations from a psychogenesis perspective. When stood close to the roundabouts I realised that they are “edgelands” in themselves; these are roundabouts made for vehicles and yet I was experiencing them as a pedestrian. How should I respond to them and what rigour should I use? From my research I knew that the nature of the depiction, not just the depiction is important. As a pedestrian roundabouts are inhospitable and inaccessible places. I tried depicting them with rushing traffic but I felt that the traffic detracted from representing the roundabouts themselves.

Mind map Preparatory shooting:

I shot the images initially over the course of 2 weeks returning frequently to the same sites after reviewing the images to try different ideas out. I visited the locations at different times of the day until I settled on the best vantage point for each location. I also visited at different times of the day to shoot experience different traffic flows until I eventually decided to shoot with minimal traffic in my images. I also found I could only shoot a couple of roundabout in each outing, as it was tiring work mainly as I had to keep my wits about me as I was usually shooting from the islands between the traffic and had to stay alert to where I was in relation to the moving traffic.

I showed my work to my colleagues at the Thames Valley OCA Group and then to Landscape colleagues on a google hangout and asked for their views on:

  • empty or full of traffic
  • colour or black and white – it was unanimous they should remain in colour
  • Aesthetic or a pure representation
  • Highlight the chaotic signage – this was seen as a key point
  • How to gain consistency across a series – some randomness was seen as positive

Most of these questions I ultimately answered for myself as I reflected:

  • The pictures are comparisons made as I collected the roundabouts
  • I want to show the roundabouts not the traffic
  • The inaccessibility to a pedestrian can be shown by shooting what is in my line of sight as I shoot, at eye level but close to the roads.
  • The use of geometry and interruptions that bisecting lines can bring to the images helps to create the right atmosphere.
  • The signage is key to the roundabout’s identities.

With these points in mind I shot a couple more smaller roundabouts (the first two images) for comparison and removed the images above that showed the local characteristics of the roundabouts in favour of others which emphasised the roundabouts or their signage themselves. Ultimately the shooting took place over three weeks which also helped me to get a consistency to the set of background and weather conditions.

Mind map Final shooting and editing:

Satellite map of the journey:

As I edited and formed the final series I tried to keep coming back to my:

Intention – To share visually roundabouts I travelled through on a journey on foot.

Concept – To show the roundabout’s commonalities and singularities

Context – Being there and slowly observing as a pedestrian

Narrative – A linear and comparative journey

Post feedback:

Following my tutor feedback I reduced the series from 12 to 10 images to make a tighter set. After great consideration I eliminated image “West Ham: 9.5 miles” because it seemed “flat” compared to the other images. I also eliminated image “Brighton Hill: 10.7 miles” as it is the only image in the series with a vehicle in it.

Satellite map of submission images journey:

Final map



I also reviewed the colour tones across the series and made some adjustments before reprinting some images.

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Thames Valley OCA meeting 16.1.19

This was a smaller meeting than normal and without an OCA tutor, but still very useful, I wish I could get to them every month.

We discussed the recent exhibition that some of the members (the open art collective) held and that I’d visited the day before, “Time” at the Light box gallery Woking. Most of the work Id seen over its creation in the past year at meetings but it was wonderful to see the work in a professional layout in a gallery open to the public; quite an achievement I thought and I have a mind to join in and exhibit next year- another thing to take me out of my comfort zone.

We then allocated time to each student that wished to show their work for peer analysis. I shared my drafts for my assignment two : Doughnut city. I shared my thoughts behind the images, which in retrospect was a mistake as I may have gained more objective feedback had I not. However I was able to glean the following:

  • They agreed that I should keep the images in colour and not convert them to black and white to gain more consistency.
  • The chaotic signage seemed to grab the viewers more than my idea about the individual character of each image


  • re evaluate the images and consider reshooting  Eastrop without buses and dropping a couple of the images, whilst shooting one or two new roundabouts, possibly smaller ones for comparison and to bring the emphasis for the series to the signage.
  • Possibly use mile markers on the journey to name the roundabouts.

Other learning for me in the day was gained from discussion and looking at others work were:

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Boring – Martin Parr

My tutor suggested that I look at this work in preparation for my assignment.

Parr was commissioned by The Guardian to capture ten British cities, the ordinary and everydayness of the places. He followed this up by photographing in America. Though ordinary places Parr showcases them in a cheerful way “Flitting between seriousness and straight-faced humour” (Varsity Online, 2019). Parr describes them as just his way of seeing the world.

   (, 2019)

Parr believes “that the ordinary is much more interesting than people make out” (, 2019) and says that the postcards are fascinating but that if you called them interesting postcards no one would buy them. His images of the small town of Boring, Oregon, 468 photographs of subjects like the Boring Middle School and the Boring Sewage Treatment Facility, were another opportunity for him to show that the ordinary, is actually interesting.


(, 2019 2 )

Although the subject matter is boring, motorways, ring roads, factories, housing states, traffic junctions, and shopping centres for instance, the way he collects them together makes them at least entertaining and at times comical. There are common themes like the blue skies, the cleanness (as in lack of distracting details), minimalism and the colour tones used.

References: (2019). Magnum Photos. [online] Available at: [Accessed 8 Feb. 2019]. 2 (2019). Magnum Photos. [online] Available at: [Accessed 8 Feb. 2019]. (2019). Ordinary lives, extraordinary photographs. [online] Available at: [Accessed 8 Feb. 2019].

Varsity Online. (2019). Boring postcards get interesting: Interview with Martin Parr. [online] Available at: [Accessed 8 Feb. 2019].

Lee Friedlander

I have looked at the photographs he took whilst travelling by car in an earlier post (). I am interested here in the images that he takes where he dissects the frames with various vertical lines:

New Mexico” 2006 New Mexico,” 2001 (, 2019)

Both of these photographs show his playful approach to photographing but also his use of geometry and the distortion and additional dimensions that including lines into images can bring. For many photographers shadows, poles and reflections got in the way of their work, whereas Friedlander saw these as opportunities; he often uses lines deliberately to cut through frames in a modernistic way.

   (Huxley-Parlour Gallery, 2019)

He certainly has a realistic eye using his eye to seek out, then the camera to compose what has been called, “a double game of light and shadow, near and far, which Friedlander wins by knitting the opposing terms together in a riotous and irregular but articulate pattern, making a whole that pulsates with life.” (, 2019). It is fascinating how he peers through objects such as fences, windows, and door frames to create images with a cubist feel. This effect is added to by his use of a medium-format Hasselblad Superwide producing a square picture.

References: (2019). Andrew Smith Gallery – Lee Friedlander. [online] Available at: [Accessed 8 Feb. 2019].

Huxley-Parlour Gallery. (2019). Kansas City, Missouri, 1965 | Huxley-Parlour Gallery. [online] Available at: [Accessed 8 Feb. 2019].


  • There are many ways of drawing the eye to the everyday and mundane as well as approaches that make the banal look interesting.
  • Dissecting the images frame with lines of objects can produce interesting results, think about using the natural geometry to emphasise or distort.
  • I should investigate cubist work, fragmentation and abstraction and particularly how perspective can be used to play with the space between the foreground and the background.

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Exercise 2.6: ‘Edgelands’

Read ‘Wire’ and ‘Power’ from Edgelands (see ‘Online learning materials and student-led research’ at the start of this course guide). These short chapters will help prepare you for some of the themes in Part Three. Record your responses in your learning log.

 Edgelands refers to “negotiated, unnamed, ignored” wild places on our doorsteps and is a critques of what we value as wild. The authors are both poets.

Wire and Power are 2 of 28 essays from Edgelands; journeys into England’s True Wilderness, which reflect on the authors journeys, through diverse subjects such shipping containers, landfill sites and wooden pallets.  Their voices joined together.


In this chapter their reflections on wire include: chain link fences, coiled barbed wire and razor wire leading to a discourse on Greenham common, the wires in magnetic core memory in early computers, disused military bases and fences. Most poignant for me are their writing on fences and an exploration of how some fences bear painful memories.


Interestingly their ruminations here focus on one source of power, power stations and particularly cooling towers. I especially like the different approaches that they take to these, especially the towers as metaphors:

Stand in the shadow of the cooling towers. Watch your anxieties turn to wisps of smoke and twist into the ether. Feel your pent up frustrations drawn out of you by this irresistible updraft. You are cooling but will not leave here empty…Feel the force” (Farley and Roberts, 2013, p186)

I also like the way the authors absorb themselves in a variety of approaches to the topic, power stations as: metaphors, distortions of scale in the landscape, eye sores, amazing structures, direction markers, generators of myths, water activity, workplaces, politically contentious, ecological disasters.


  • I wasn’t aware of the term “edgelands” but will now view these areas with a fresh eye.
  • I now better understand Psychogeography as the study of the specific effects of the geographical environment, on the emotions, feelings and behaviour of people.
  • When photographing Landscape this is another aspect that I’ll be able to add to my tool kit.
  • I would definitely like to explore this topic more.


Farley, P. and Roberts, m. (2013). Edgelands. [Place of publication not identified]: Camden.

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  • Psychogeography is essentially the broad terrain where geography, the design and layout of a place, influences the experience and behaviour, of the user.
  • Psychogeography has been described as the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, whether consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behavior of individuals. It can be applied to the findings arrived at by this type of investigation, to their influence on human feelings, and more generally to any situation or conduct that seems to reflect the same spirit of discovery.” (, 2019)
  • Narrative about a place can be ‘psychogeographical’ but not necessariliy a work of psychogeography.
  • Walking is a central component elements of psychogeography, and street photography is evidence of it in practise today.
  • The city has traditionally been the terrain for pyschogeographical investigation.
  • Early traces of can it are found in the work of Daniel Defoe, Robert Louis Stevenson.
  • Dérive and the flâneur are key terms:

The dérive is a key method of psychogeographical enquiry. The literal               translation from French is ‘drift’ an unplanned walk through a city, guided by the individual’s responses to the geography, architecture and ambience of its quarters. It is one strategy to help bridge the gap between the actual, physical observations of the stroller and their subconscious.

The flâneur is the protagonist of the dérive, generally the ‘stroller who enjoys the aesthetic pleasures of the sights and sounds he experiences.

A modernist interpretation of this is explained when Philip Pullman discusses Manet’s painting in depth: Pullman guides us to look at what is in the picture, but then interpret it. We learn that a work of art is not just about the things depicted but the painting about itself, the nature of the depiction is vital, not just what is depicted.

Reference: (2019). Situationist International Online. [online] Available at: [Accessed 2 Feb. 2019].

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Exercise 2.5: Text in art

In a similar manner to Richard Long’s ‘textworks’ (, write down 12 – 24 brief observations during a short walk or journey by some means of transport. This may be the journey you intend to make for Assignment Two, or it may be a different one. You don’t need to take any photographs. Consider how you might present your observations. For some more inspiration on text-based artwork, see: Ed Ruscha: Barbara Kruger: Mark Titchner: This exercise is designed to help you think about text as an alternative or additional means of expression, and to provide an opportunity to experiment with presenting text creatively.


Richard Long makes his walking into art; writing words and phrases in arrangements centred on structure and rhythms that form a relationship between his idea, words and experiences. He doesn’t see himself as a land artist but simply documents his walks with an image of the location, map, image or text work. He says “I guess I’m an opportunist, really. I go out into the world with an open mind, and I rely to a degree on intuition and chance. The idea of making art out of nothing” (O’Hagan, 2019). I am surprised at the variety in his work and I guess this bears out his admission that he works on chance and intuition.

His work can be found at:

I also explored the work of Hamish Fulton, a walking artist”, photographer and a painter, that often walks with Richard Long. Long describes him as “a bit more politically correct than me,” referring to Fulton’s belief, “Take No Photographs, Leave No Footprints, that the landscape should not be altered for the sake of art” (O’Hagan, 2019).He translates his walks into a variety of media, including photography, illustrations, and wall texts and argues that ‘walking is an artform in its own right.



(Tate, 2019)

Barbara Kruger uses images and text to communicate with the viewer. Through appropriated images she makes short confrontational statements about society, the economy, politics, gender, and culture.

I also looked at the exploration of words and language of Mark Titchner, and the various media work of Ed Ruscha associated with the pop art movement. These may be effective artworks but they don’t resonate with me. I can however take something with me for the future from Long and Fulton’s work and would certainly thing about combining text and image for effect, whether my work would be considered art remains to be seen. I did combine art and appropriated images in Assignment 4 of Identity and place.

This is my response to a journey I made recently presented partly in the style of Richard Long, it was inspired by a journey by car in India, well the road signs I passed in particular!


O’Hagan, S. (2019). Sculptor Richard Long talks about magic circles and the art of walking with Sean O’Hagan. [online] the Guardian. Available at: [Accessed 1 Feb. 2019].

Tate. (2019). Hamish Fulton born 1946 | Tate. [online] Available at: [Accessed 1 Feb. 2019].

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 Exercise 2.4:  Is appropriation appropriate?

My response

I can appreciate that google street view and google earth images are the ultimate objective viewpoint when they are shot. However when they are appropriated and used for a different purpose they are no longer objective, there has been a subjective input into them.

In Dyer’s article (Dyer, 2019), he discusses the approach of photographers who use such images and crop and frame them to create meaning for a viewer. I do like the work that Doug Rickards has done with Google street view; he says that he finds a particular freedom in using Google street view:

(The Guardian, 2019)

I admire the aesthetics in his appropriation, although to achieve this he does play with colour saturation and contrast in the images, “Colours are simultaneously enhanced and drained…Sometimes the sky gets rinsed out, other times it has vestiges of the turquoise ache of the Super-8 of old. All of which contributes to the sense we are seeing ghost towns in the process of formation” (the Guardian, 2019), this is particularly evident here:

Rickard 3Chicago-IL-001

(The Guardian, 2019

Conversely I am not at all inspired by the work of others like Michael wolf and Jon Rafman who select the incidental events or actions that street view catches, then isolate them and bring them to the viewer’s attention. I appreciate that they are being creating in what they are selecting and are elevating or at least changing the nature of the images. However it does not hold any interest for me.

Andy Warhol is an example of an artist who has appropriated images to use in his own artwork such as his Marilyn series:

Andy w Banksy-KateMoss11

(Revolver Gallery, 2019)

Warhol was quite blatant in their use and in some cases, like Campbell’s soups the free publicity that it gave to the owners was welcome. However he was not so fortunate with his Flower series (1966) where the original photographer brought a lawsuit against him for the use of her hibiscus flowers; this resulted in him using only his own images from then on. Apparently he previously said that art is what you can get away with but what he came to mean was “art is what you can get away with (out being sued)” (Revolver Gallery, 2019).

My thoughts:

I do not have a problem with artists transforming photographs in a creative way, and there are many “post photography” artists and works which I admire and have commented on previously (See my post on my identity and place blog:; however do agree with the post from the OCA above that when work is appropriated sources should at least be acknowledged (#weareoca, 2019).  As for whether it is something I would work with in the future, I think this is highly unlikely, but it has been useful to open my eyes and mind to other practices and methods that are possible. I will be using street view in m planning for assignment 2.


#weareoca. (2019). Who’s Afraid of Appropriation? – #weareoca. [online] Available at: [Accessed 1 Feb. 2019].

Dyer, G. (2019). How Google Street View is inspiring new photography. [online] the Guardian. Available at: [Accessed 1 Feb. 2019].
Revolver Gallery. (2019). Andy Warhol and the Art of Appropriation. [online] Available at: [Accessed 1 Feb. 2019].

The Guardian. (2019). Photographers using Google Street View – in pictures. [online] Available at: [Accessed 1 Feb. 2019].

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Exercise 2.3:  Typologies Read Sean O’Hagan’s article on the New Topographics exhibition and publication:

Write down your own responses to the work of any of the practitioners O’Hagan mentions in his article, and describe your thoughts on typological approaches. 


New Topographics: photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape was an exhibition curated by Williams Jenkins was a key moment in Landscape photography. It show cased the work of eight young American photographers: Robert Adams, Lewis Baltz, Joe Deal, Frank Gohlke, Nicholas Nixon, John Schott, Stephen Shore and Henry Wessel Jr and Bernd and Hilda Becher from Germany. All except Shore worked in black and white.

Using a typological strategy for landscape was a new; its origins  were in the criminology and eugenics experiments of the nineteenth-century The term ‘typology’ was coined by Augustus Pitt Rivers who was interested in the evolution of different tools and mechanical implements used by man. The new Topographics American photographers captured the creeping urbanisation and industry of 1970s shooting disused warehouses, city centre, suburbia and empty streets; “taken collectively, they seemed to posit an aesthetic of the banal” (O’Hagan, 2019). They represented the increasingly suburbanised environments around them and were reacting against the previous tradition of idealised landscape photography.

As I’m thinking about using a topographical approach for my assignment I have looked at more than one of the photographers who featured in the above exhibition.


In the 1950s they systematically photographed industrial structures (water towers, blast furnaces, gas tanks, mine heads, grain elevators). Their idea was to make families of objects or motifs together “a pattern of sequential experiences” (Tate, 2019).To do this they isolated objects must be isolated from their context and associations. Their images followed a rigorous set of procedural rules:  standardised format and ratio of figure to ground, a uniformly level, full-frontal view, near-identical flat lighting conditions and no human presence. If this was not achieved in camera then they try to achieve in in the processing process.

(Tate, 2019)                                               (O&#x27, 2;Hagan, 2019)

The Becher’s brought to light typologies that had evolved outside the focus of considered design, and ultimately elevated them to the status of art” (Rose, 2019) and transformed them into minimalist art.

Their systematic, straightforward observation led to a whole school of “objective” art photography,

My Thoughts:

To some, the Becher’s’ grids of black and white subjects are dull and lifeless but I think that the way they represent them draws out some of the beauty in their form. They were also the first to treat landscape with the eyes of a collector and do open up a new way of visualising and appreciating detail.



(O’Hagan, 2019, 2)

Adams captured the new sprawls of the American West, pristine landscapes with stark housing, malls and deforestation sites; he said “The pictures record what we purchased, what we paid and what we could not buy” (, 2019).

I found his explanation of why he photographs in the way that he does useful, I wanted to record what supports hope: the untranslatable mystery and beauty of the world. Along the way the camera also caught evidence against, and I eventually concluded that this too belonged in pictures if they were too be truthful and useful” (, 2019). I do like the way that his pictures express both what has been lost as well as what remains, a presentation of the contradictions of progress. There is an element of silence in all his work that makes you to listen closely as well as look (O’ Hagan, 2019, 3).

My thoughts:

It has been suggested that he is the least detached and neutral of the topographical photographers; certainly, unlike some he does use scale and distance and perhaps unwittingly provides an aesthetic.

(O’ Hagan, 2019, 3)

Also I can identify with the man who was surprised to find his own truck in one of Adams’s photographs, had this to say: “At first they’re really stark nothing, but then you really look at them and it’s just the way things are. This is interesting, it really is.” (O’ Hagan, 2019).

(O’ Hagan, 2019, 3)

To me his work is definitely a more optimistic and aesthetic approach to the manmade alterations to the landscape than the other topographical work that I’ve seen.


(, 2019)


Frank Gohlke has focused consistently with questions of human usage and perception of land. Like the other topographical photographers he explores the ways Americans build but live in a natural world that becomes less than ideal; the effect that people have on the land. He says “I want people to get pleasure out of these images and come away with a larger sense of what’s worth paying attention to. I want to convey a sense of how rich the ordinary world is” (@digitalanika, 2019).

(, 2019)

To help viewers to pay attention to the important stuff he deliberately tries to avoid humans in his pictures, and when he does include them they are small and only there incidentally. Gohlke also worked in black and white at that time to give the images an uncluttered look.

My thoughts:

His pictures capture in a minimal way the tensions between the manmade and natural world. For me the simplicity and minimalist treatment of the landscapes emphasizes the human intrusions on the environments. Out of these photographers I personally admire his work the most.

Watch this video of Lewis Baltz talking about his work:



(O&#x27, Hagan, 2019, 2)                                                    (Tate, 2019)

Dana Point  #2 1970 by Lewis Baltz born 1945

Dana Point #2 1970 Lewis Baltz born 1945 Presented by Slavica Perkovic 2012

(, 2019)



His images are stark rather like Gohlkes but more abstract and lineal. He was trained to use photography as art not in a practical way. He says photography is the only deductive art, in that it begins with an overfull world and the photographer has to sort out what is meaningful. He looked at things that were common place and ordinary. Contrast, geometry, surface detail and uniformity are very evident in his images and he often displays them in a grid pattern; this also emphases the monotony of the manmade environment.

Gohlkes admires beauty but it’s not his aesthetic position, he engages in things that are interesting to think about more than are interesting to look at. I find it interesting that he wanted his “work to look like anyone could do it…. “I didn’t want to have a style. I wanted it to look as mute and as distant as to appear to be as objective as possible, but of course it’s not objective.” (O’ Hagan, 2019, 4).

 My thoughts:

I think he’s right that his work isn’t objective, he absolutely does have his own style. find his work different from the other topographical photographers as it is harder to see the natural environment, there seems to be more focus on the manmade objects; although I still appreciate that he is making meaning from ordinary objects. I think he very much does have his own style and I admire it.


New topographics referred to a group of photographers who moved away from the pictorial to anti-aesthetic, non-romantic. If I hadn’t studied this approach to photography I would have probably dismissed it as dull. However now I have looked at it in detail I can appreciate that by stripping out any romanticism and presenting things in a realistic way iy enables the viewer to firstly appreciate ordinary subjects in a new light and secondly that it enables the detil in the ordinary to shine. It forms a different and useful narrative from traditional landscape photographers.

My Overall learning points:

  • The banal and usually unobserved, is well worth bringing to the viewer’s attention, as I learnt in my assignment 1.
  • The truth can be beautiful.
  • A grid layout of images where subjects can be compared is useful to bring out detail.
  • The random effects of humans on the landscape can be interesting subject matter.
  • Need to consider whether it important to minimise people in a landscape or whether they may serve a purpose.


@digitalanika, F. (2019). Q and A: Frank Gohlke. [online] Smithsonian. Available at: [Accessed 31 Jan. 2019]. (2019). Frank Gohlke – Artists – Howard Greenberg Gallery. [online] Available at: [Accessed 30 Jan. 2019]. (2019). Museum of Contemporary Photography. [online] Available at: [Accessed 31 Jan. 2019].

O’Hagan, S. (2019 3 ). Robert Adams: the photographer who roved the prairies for 45 years. [online] the Guardian. Available at: [Accessed 30 Jan. 2019].

O’Hagan, S. (2019 4). Lewis Baltz obituary. [online] the Guardian. Available at: [Accessed 31 Jan. 2019].

O’Hagan, S. (2019 2) . New Topographics: changing the landscape of photography. [online] the Guardian. Available at: [Accessed 30 Jan. 2019].

O’Hagan, S. (2019). New Topographics: photographs that find beauty in the banal. [online] the Guardian. Available at: [Accessed 30 Jan. 2019]. (2019). Consent Form | Popular Photography. [online] Available at: [Accessed 30 Jan. 2019].

Rose, S. (2019). Remembering Bernd Becher. [online] the Guardian. Available at: [Accessed 30 Jan. 2019].

Tate. (2019). Lewis Baltz: Industrial and suburban landscape – TateShots | Tate. [online] Available at: [Accessed 31 Jan. 2019].

Tate. (2019). The Photographic Comportment of Bernd and Hilla Becher – Tate Papers | Tate. [online] Available at: [Accessed 30 Jan. 2019]. (2019). Robert Adams – Victoria and Albert Museum. [online] Available at: [Accessed 30 Jan. 2019].

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