Tuesday, 27 April 2010


Currently reading.

  • The Photographers Eye by Michael Freeman
  • Landscape within by David Ward
  • Edward Weston - His Life by Ben Maddow
The Photographers Eye - Michael Freeman

My route to Photography 2 was via APEL and while I am pleased that my previous work and experience satisfied the requirements of the university I still consider that there is a need to read this book and cement together some of the exercises that I would have encountered in The Art of Photography. In addition, Michael Freeman often refers to these in the Landscape course text and makes the assumption that you will have done the level 1 course. The book is by no means basic, if that is what is implied by being level 1. I don't intend to read it from cover to cover, but I am dipping in and out to chapters that look of particular interest and where Freeman refers me to TAOP exercises. Design basics and graphic elements have always been of particular interest to me. Working in civil engineering I see shapes and lines in every aspect of the built environment and take this further into the world of natural history and landscape. Looking at these chapters, remembering the concepts and taking them into the field is not always easy. Photography, like any design process, (architecture, civil engineering, naval architecture and structural design) has the ability to return output, that without recourse to any formulae either looks good or bad. The old saying "If it looks right then it probably is" is certainly how I make my final edit and selection of work. We cannot of course rely entirely upon intuition and Freeman talks about this in Chapter 6 describing how Andre Kertesz "was simply not interested in examining his own process". Others (Ansel Adams, Walker Evans, Edward Weston etc) did and I am inclined to think that their approach to refinement is more appropriate. I gain some comfort from Edward Weston who wrote " that for photography, landscape was too chaotic.... to crude and lacking in arrangement". A comment like this from someone like Weston is comforting, when I cannot find that elusive composition. Weston however intrigues me.

Landscape within - David Ward

This book is not amongst the list of recommended reading, but is by one of the UK's leading contemporary landscape photographers. The book is not written for those who want a "how to" book in the general sense, although one chapter does talk of some useful techniques.This book is of course about landscape photography, but asks the reader to consider it at a deeper level. Photography of the landscape is investigated through Ward's love of writing (and some stunning photographs) and questions our motives for landscape photography. In the introduction he states " What you need to cultivate first and foremost in photography is, I believe, your vision; you need to train yourself to really see, not just glance around you but to concentrate totally on your surroundings". I have taken this thought with me when shooting, and try to slow down the tempo, look closer, look deeper, sit, stand longer before either taking a shot or moving on. Ward also asks us to look closer at the landscape, not macro photography, but what is closer to your feet, what is all around us but often ignored. Within this closer world lies an opportunity to photograph an intimate landscape that will produce a unique image. Once again, these thoughts travel with me when out shooting, hindered only by my ability to match my expectation with results. A book I will read and re read from cover to cover.

Edward Weston - His Life by Ben Maddow

I find Edward Weston's work interesting although sometimes difficult to see as a body of work, due to the diverse subject matter he works with. This nagging away in my head and the need to produce some assignment work later based upon a photographer from a short list, I came across this biography. The book is heavy going, mainly because the author is mixing his own text with the day books/journals of Weston to tell the story and having only got part way through the whole picture is not easy to interpret.I think I would prefer to read a biography or just the day books. I am of course (at this juncture) interested in his landscape work and this as yet has not been covered. I do need to continue with this, get some more books (although the large image books seem rare and second hand cost £100) and really get to the bottom of this man. My alternative is to park up Weston, concentrate of Fay Godwin for the assignments (perceived as easier to emulate etc) and maybe come back to him later. There is no need to abandon this yet as this will not be relevant for at least 3 months.

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