I'm not sure if the "contentment/contempt" aspect is something you got out of my post, I certainly hope not, as I don't have contempt for anyplace. I do find contentment going back to places i have been before, but I am still so in awe of how beautiful the world can be, and how some just moisture in the atmosphere can produce mood and lighting affects better than any photographer can create artificially. if I can just see what's around that bend...
Originally Posted by copake_ham
I think though one should be cautious that drawing water from the same well so often doesn't produce a drink that is bland. It is easy to get into a pattern in one's work, some patterns make someone grow, other patterns hold them back.
As to the contentment/contempt aspect - no, I did not intend that to be "read" into your commentary.
Originally Posted by Early Riser
We are much more in agreement that not - as your post quoted above indicates.
Perhaps what I mean is that I find it useful to have a few places to return to as a "home berth" both for the familiarity they give and because, being only a berth, it means I must then journey forth again.
That said, there are many places I've visited and shot in the past to which I would like to return and hopefully, having grown, will do better.
Now, more than a dozen years later, I would love to go back to this place and re-compose and try again (and again etc.) until I got it "right". If only....
Last edited by copake_ham; 07-25-2007 at 09:48 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Some thought-provoking posts here. It's intersting to see the difference in approaches.
I think that landscape work often gains a kind of cumulative power when a particular place is the focus of the photographers interest. My imagination is fired as much by words as much as images and two writers that have had an influence on my photography illustrate this point.
One is Tim Robinson, a mapmaker and writer based on the west coast of Ireland who has written amazingly detailed studies of the Aran Islands and Connemara. These are the result of 30 years+ getting to know a pretty small area - the physical geography, the language and customs. The other is a poet, Norman MacCaig, much of whose work is centred on Assynt, in the North West Highlands of Scotland. He spent 30+ years thinking about this landscape. The results of both writers are not, to my mind, repetition, but a lifelong meditation on place and meaning. Because this is so concentrated, there is a remarkable cumulative power. I'd love my photographs to work in a similar way!
I've used and continue to use both approaches- I enjoy the buzz of photographing a new place and I've produced some images that really please me this way, but on balance I feel that my best work has been done when I've had the chance to revisit a location in different light/weather conditions and at different times of the year. So often I've been to a new place and snapped away like crazy, but a few months or years down the line many of the resulting pictures look ordinary once the initial excitement has died away. With repeat visits,the work often has more depth rather than just you going for the obvious stuff.
"He took to writing poetry and visiting the elves: and though many shook their heads and touched their foreheads and said 'Poor old Baggins!' and though few believed any of his tales, he remained very happy till the end of his days, and those were extraordinarily long "- JRR Tolkien, ' The Hobbit '.
The natural world is not static, and rarely predictable.
It is dynamic, with variations that are sometimes grand, and sometimes subtle.
I plan my trips according to season, and re-visit some spots often.
The joke in Colorado's weather is "if you don't like it, wait an hour!"
It's like going to a new place and seeing things for the first time.
The subject matter may be repeated, but it looks fresh under different conditions.
Acknowledging these facts is what keeps me on the hunt for "those magic moments."
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I recently discovered that by going back to the same spot six days in a row I finally got bored enough to start looking for something different and ended up with something better than my original vision.
I do find I get something from re-visiting places, but I also like to go to new ones - partly for all the obvious reasons and partly because new subjects throw up new challenges. But familiar subjects can throw up new challenges, of a different sort, too: like how to find a new way - or a better way - to portray them.
One of my recurrent themes is the field across the road from my own front gate. The light on this field is so often beautiful and I love a number of the trees that stand in it. I have photographed this one field so many times, but I still feel there is a lifetime's worth of images still there waiting for me. This is quite an important 'anchoring' thing for me.
There is a particular place in Wales that is slowly beginning to acquire a similar power for me as I photograph it again and again.
In a different way, I tutored on a retreat at a place in January of last year and they asked me back in April of this. They've already booked me for August next year and have made enquires about October in the year following. This was their idea, not mine, but I am really excited by this idea of going back in each season of the year. Even after just two visits I've found I produced some very different work - seeing things that I hadn't seen the first time or that hadn't worked in the light of a different season, and finding new ways to look at things I had photographed before. Sometimes, with the things I photographed both times, my initial vision has proved to be the best, sometimes the second one has been an improvement.
This idea of both looking for new things and re-visiting familiar ones doesn't only apply to landscape. I do a lot of still life and a proportion of this is done with plant material much of which I grow myself. Several times I've found that I've photographed something I've grown, and then the following year when the same plant is at the same stage of leaf/bud/flower/whatever I've thought of a different way of interpreting it. Sometimes I've thought of it after looking at my films and then had to wait another year for the plant to flower again.
I do think that the quality of work I produce each time I go to a new place is improved by, and builds on, some of the things I learn when I work in or revisit familiar places.
Remember, archetypal landscape shooters like O'Sullivan shot for the sake of exposing the undeveloped land to eastern developers. The goal of the photos was: here it is, let's exploit this!
(I won't rehash the modern version of the same sentiment, where landscapes are used as backdrops for SUV ads that promise your ability to "conquer any terrain")
One shot or twenty, the real "ethical" issue in landscape photography is what is your relationship to this land as expressed in these photographs?
The camera is a dumb instrument. If you do not think about what is in your pictures, it will also record your indifference.
Well said. I especially liked the last line! Best. Shawn
Originally Posted by bjorke
it is old truth:
criminal always return to the place of his crime, and photographers always return to the point where they shot from.