Assignment 1: Contact Sheets

There were three distinct sets of edited images that I considered developing for assignment 1.

The first set were picturesque representations of the Stourhead landscape but cropped as panoramas to disrupt the idea of using a conventional 4:3 or 10:8 aspect ratio. Jesse Alexander explains that the horizontal ‘landscape’ frame is “closer to naturalistic ocular vision than is a square or a vertical frame” (1: p.31) (i)

Wide aspect landscape photographs whilst not common are often used to good effect. Josef Koudelka’s Wall (2) comes to mind where the seemingly omnipresent Israeli “security fence” is made more oppressive and full of foreboding by his panoramic viewpoint. David Anthony Hall (3) whose main subject matter is trees, uses panoramas to provide a sense of scale and the patterns of the forest.

In the early part of the shoot when the light was supportive of the idea of capturing picturesque views I took a number of shots that I thought would lend themselves to a 2.35:1 aspect ratio.

Stourhead Contact Sheet #5 – Steve Middlehurst 2017

If picturesque had been my intent for the project these type of views might have been a starting point for an exploration of the landscaped spaces of Stourhead but they tell us nothing new or interesting about the site.

As the shoot developed I became more interested in the margins between the landscaped garden and the more natural woodland that surrounds it and began to focus on places where nature was attempting to restore the natural order of things.

In post production I cropped a number of these pictures as squares, again thinking about ways to subvert the conventional landscape aesthetic. The square aspect tightly frames the landscape and works especially well for studies of woodland. Fay Godwin regularly but not exclusively worked in this format (4 & 5) as did Bill Brandt (6) and it is most commonly associated with medium format 6×6 cameras.

Stourhead Contact Sheet #4 – Steve Middlehurst 2017

I think I could have developed a series based on these square crops but I had not been photographing with that idea in mind and too many of the edited shots felt contrived.

Giving up all hope of subversion I settled for a very traditional 4:3 aspect ratio for my short list.

Stourhead Contact Sheet #1 – Steve Middlehurst 2017

Stourhead Contact Sheet #2 – Steve Middlehurst 2017

Stourhead Contact Sheet #3 – Steve Middlehurst 2017

Notes on Text

(i) Many panoramic or wide screen aspect ratios are borrowed from cinema; the traditional Academy ratio of 1:375:1, Cinemascope at 2.35:1 or the accepted TV format of 16:9. As the most panoramic crop I have used 2.35:1 on several occasions.

Sources

Books

(1) Alexander, J.A.P. (2015) Perspectives on Place. London: Bloomsbury

(2) Koudelka, Josef. (2014) Wall: Israeli and Palestinian Lanscape 2008 – 2012. New York: Aperture.

(4) Godwin, Fay (2001) Landmarks. Stockport: Dewi Lewis Publishing

(5) Godwin, Fay (1985) Land. Boston: Little, Brown and Company

(6) Hermann Meister, Sarah (2013) Bill Brandt: Shadow and Light. London: Thames and Hudson

Internet

(3) Hall, David Anthony (ND) In Progress (accessed at the photographer’s website 13.3.17) – http://www.davidanthonyhall.com/inprogressfull

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