Final Conclusion: A Summary of BA2a, BA2b, BA3a & BA3b

Through this two years of intensive research and development of my photographic practices has finally (almost) come to an end. I love my course. I love photography. I loved the people and environment. Most importantly, I loved doing what I do. Thus concludes all the experiences I have accumulated and all works I have done thus far. I have divided my thoughts into six key areas to look into.

  • The Provocative Landscape

  • Photographic Practices

  • The Industry 
  • Self Promotional and Business Plans
  • Collaboration
  • Post University Plans

The Provocative Landscape

In my BA2 works, I explored colours and structural elements in my body of works and “A kaleidoscope of colours” was the result. As I developed my focus into landscape photography later on in BA3, it developed into “The Provocative Landscape” and much of my research had revolved around it.

In my essay, “The Provocative Landscape”, I have proposed that there could be three approaches to reading provocative landscape images: The controversial Image, The Dialectical Image and The Rhetorical Image. These approaches have been helpful in identifying what landscape images can be considered provocative, though sometimes images do not fall into a single category. Thus, I have decided to use many landscape photographers’ works to further elaborate on my point.

I  not only look at landscape photographers, but also at art installations, films and listen to music, and to an extent, the photography works I have done have been a response to those influences over the two years of my course work. It is not a matter of straightforward references but rather a subconscious accumulation of experiences which finds its way into the pictures.

As artists and photographers have engaged with a wide variety of techniques and continuously sought to evolve their photographic practices through time, I have found that for some landscape photographers, it is not the technique that makes an image provocative, but the interaction between the image (how it was created) and the audience (what kind of emotion does it evoke) that makes the image provocative. Provocative landscapes could also be from a religious point of view, as though a sign from the heavens, since the chances of encountering such phenomenon are very rare. How these research has informed my photography works was through my two series, “Allenmanstretten” and “Pandora’s Box”.

In the pursuit of better quality in my photography,  I have sort of evolved from full frame cameras though exposure of other works and understanding the limitations when I consider for large prints. Though I have not used a medium format camera for most of my landscape works due to logistical constraints, but that should not stop me from dreaming bigger.  I think I am ready for medium format cameras!

Photographic Practices

Just like the many photographers before me who set out to explore the potential of landscape photography. We wished, for a number of reasons, to work against, or at least question, some of the accepted conventions of landscape photography, and I certainly realised that there was much ground for me to explore. As my experience in research and planning continue to evolve with my knowledge of the landscape constantly with paradigm shifts, This has grown into a sort of personal preoccupation, to a point where it has become one of my primary interests. This was also thanks to the pieces of advice from the tutors and peers and industry professionals whom through these critique sessions have constantly challenged me to outperform myself in surprising ways.

Though this is only a point of my photographic practices, it is a never-ending learning experience. These practices will continue to change and evolve. Who knows what future holds when my practices evolved again!

The Industry  

The point of understanding how my practices are relevant to my industry is an important one.  Through market research, understanding differences between the UK market and Singapore market and setting up interview questions for those professionals already in the Singapore industry, meant that while I am in the UK,  I have to commodate my works to cater the interest of both groups of audiences. But when I return back home, I will cater predominantly towards the local group of audience. To survive in a small and competitive market, it has been the way that the more skills one can acquire, the better the chance of being hired. The current practice of the industry in the region is not healthy, but that is the way it is.

Self Promotional & business Plans

The point of understanding the relevancy of my practices to my industry is an important market research. Identifying the key differences between the UK and Singapore market and interviewing professionals already in the industry led me to a better understanding of how my industry actually works and how my business can fit in.

Figuring out a business plan that will work for me takes time and refinement. There are no hard and fast rules than I can complete this within a school semester. My original objective was to set up shop to make some money off my prints. Yet if I were to bring this business back to Singapore, the environment there is will not be the same. Setting up a business is a daunting task, especially if I were to bring the business back home. I have no experience in this area and it is going to be a different ball game. I could research as much as I can, but unless I tried it out and get some experience out first hand, I won’t know how it is really like. But in any case, if my business model doesn’t work out, I will need to consider other options, such as changing my plans, collaborate with another creative to sell products, etc.

Understanding the market needs also meant that my portfolio works have to cater to these groups of audience. Hence I opted for Press Kit boxes; a balance of digital and hardcopy prints. The reason I am favouring press kits over large portfolio boxes or photo albums is because in Singapore market has a different mentality compared to the UK. As for the mode of showing portfolios, both clients and vendor tend to prefer the convenience of the portfolio than showing something big. This means that the people generally prefers everything online and digital. However, if a tactile box with lots of interesting items might entice them to work with the photographer.

Collaboration
I have had an unsuccessful collaboration attempts in BA2 works due to my unfamiliarity of the UK work environment. But through the collaboration work with Fahim in BA3bhas enabled me to discover other fields of industries where landscape imagery can be relevant (other than car adverts) – the game industry in areas of environmental concept designs, as well as the movie industry. As game artists and visual effects artist have exemplified using references of elements of landscapes to build an imaginary landscape, it is possible to interpret a provocative landscape in the form of a utopian/dystopian world. In regards to the Singapore industry, game design and Visual effects companies are more prevalent there than car advertising. There is  LucasFilm and there is  ILM branch in Singapore. These are the prominent ones, and such projects are usually collaborative ones.

Post University Plans

“Carry on with life, get married, have children and grow old.”

No, seriously, a lot of people have begun to ask me about my plans post university. Industry professionals asked me if I could work in the UK. The answer is No. This is because of the current political situation in the UK. With the Brexit situation going on, major businesses are moving away from the UK and into Europe. This also meant that I will have to fight a lot harder and at a more disadvantaged position.

UK friends outside of Uni have asked me what I am going to do next. Most likely set up my own business when I get back home. Either that for I find a production company to get more photography-related work experience.

Peers have asked me if I were to continue Masters. The answer is No. the reason is two-fold.  Firstly, a year of degree course for a non-EU student is already a lot higher than what the local students are complaining about (imagine what you could do with £4000 difference) and I am not eligible for any bursary nor under any scholaship awards. Simply put, it is not sustainable for me financially. Secondly,

Secondly, Masters in Photography is completely unheard of back in Singapore, because photography in the sense isn’t recognised as a niche profession. what is important to do photography in Singapore is the work experience. If I were to study a Masters, most likely I would consider doing Masters in Multimedia locally, where both photography and film production falls under the same umbrella. perhaps, if I were to consider teaching photography as a profession in the longer run, I may consider. Hence I’m not pursuing Masters at the moment.

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Developmental Process: Allemannsretten

Allemannsretten is a Norwegian concept from the ancient times which means “the freedom to roam” in English. Simply defined, this traditional right takes on the form of general public rights which applies to open country, thus making it legal in most cases for people to walk through any piece of uncultivated land. This concept rings true for tourists exploring any new places for their first time, not just open spaces, as it may give them a sensory impression of the whole outdoor experience. I came across this term in a bookstore in Reykjavik, Iceland and thought it fitted well on how I made the majority of the landscape images and what I was interested in.

This series forms part of a larger overarching theme, ‘The provocative landscape’ whereby I have been working on for two years, accumulating the travels and experiences of roaming about these locations for my first time and exploring places through the tourists’ eyes, thus informs my impression of the landscape through personal experience and in turn translated into photography.

To know more about my travels:
London | Scotland | Barcelona | Dubai | Singapore | Berlin | Iceland

(Some of these image in the series were not printed out as part of the final series because I have to consider the balance of my portfolio in the bigger picture. I have three collections of prints hence I have to be conscious of omitting those with the weakest links.)

References

The references to this series is an accumulation of the photographers or image makers that I have analysed over the course of two years of endeavour; Some in the form of visuals and themes, some in the form of philosophy and photographic practices while some are cultural influences. But at the same time, I didn’t want to simply emulate their style, or copy them. Instead, I wanted my own photographic style to come out of its own, while still influenced by these photographers.

(For more information about my research and references, check out my bibliography page.)

Ansel Adams | His dedication, and experiences in capturing the landscape has left me captivated and wanting to understand what makes his images work. As I had first started with the love for landscape photography; his idea of pre-visualisation and his preference for black and white images had me re-look at my own practices in photography. [Analysis]

Saul Reiter | Believed there is such a thing as ‘a search for beauty’. He considers it worthwhile for one to pursue their perceived forms of beauty. [Analysis]

Edward Burtynsky | Heavy influence from Edward Burtynsky’s photographic practices: “[we] come from nature… There is an importance to [having] a certain reverence for what nature is because we are connected to it… If we destroy nature, we destroy ourselves.” [Analysis]

Dan Holdsworthoften quite interested in dislocating the image from the place.  He was interested in is a psychological landscape’, not so much in where it is located. his works represent an updated notions of the Romantic Sublime, with “elements of awe, vastness, individual insignificance, of trespass even, are appropriate to these … wildernesses.” [Analysis]

Finn Beales | His image style always gives an authentic and natural feel, there isn’t too much heavy editing. He has a keen sense of how lights affect the landscape and use that to his advantage, thus using the lights to create the atmosphere. [ Analysis]

Richard Misrach | One those image which perhaps I felt most connected to was The Wall, Jacumba, California, an image Misrach captured in 2009 which depicts the U.S.-Mexico border often show a fence and desolation on either side. The clouds covering the mountain ridges suggests the scene with an ominous atmosphere. It has that depth which conveys the scale of the desert terrain. It is not vividly coloured, but there are a lot of details hidden within the landscape which might provoke one’s response into thinking what is there within those vast spaces. Hence from this image, Richard Misrach’s works suggest a dialectical image. [Analysis]

Paul Seawright | Seawright’s works “Hidden” is relevant to my research because of his subtle and quiet approach in capturing the terrain suggests that where there lay a hidden malevolence of its landscapes and the spectacle of ruins which becomes aestheticized, an approach which contrasts against that of Luc Delahaye’s works. [Analysis]

Simon Roberts | By elevation, it lifts the mid-ground and gave him a better opportunity to see the landscape and build narratives into it. By photographing the theatrical and using the atmosphere to his advantage, the less likely for him to get stopped taking pictures. [Analysis]

Other Research 

Toussaint (The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine) | This is one of the many beautiful video game worlds that I enjoyed watching. Though I’m not really a gamer myself, but the art is beautifully rendered, the stunning vistas and brilliant sunsets. Landscape images can be a source of influence for video game environmental designs and vice versa. This also shows another potential revenue for landscape images.

Hebe | Chinese Pop singer and Idol, Hebe and her Music Video: Insignificance

Impressionism and Romanticism Arts Movement

  

Paintings from these art movements have given me an impression of what the European landscapes could be like, therefore shaping my photographic practices and the preferential visual to dramatic landscapes and snowscape terrains, as I have subconsciously tried to emulate these art styles into my landscape photography. [Analysis]

A Curated Series

My approach to Allenmanstretten was to curate my images from all of my travels and look at landscapes in the opposite direction of my original photographic style. The vivid colours in this series are largely absent in my images. There are certain elements of detail hidden in the visual that I hope the viewers may take a second look. There is also that certain element of commercial value of travel photography amidst the fine arts approach. This is intended, as the essence of my travel is encapsulated through these experiences.

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A shortcut through the small canal behind the Berlin Zoo with sheets of broken ice in interesting positions. The calm water presented a serenity of the scene as a train passes through the vicinity, echoing its presence. That was the moment, Henri Cartier-Bresson style.

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  1. as usual, I blended the three exposures into a single image, colouring shadow area with the underexposed image and highlight areas with the overexposed image.
  2. I then use the curves to pull in more contrast, and colour adjustment filter for a cooler tone. This process is used throughout to balance the colour of the snow.

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Wandering through the Tiergarten park exploring the wintry landscape of Berlin, I found a playground in the midst of the white open space, covered with a thin layer of snow. I  captured the scene in a two-dimensional form, utilising the strong visual lines of the playground and the trees in the background.

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  1. The image was originally framed with the rule of thirds in mind. I used bracket exposure to bring back some detail of the overcast sky.
  2. noting that there was a single yellow hue visible in the image, I used the HSL to push the yellow hue out.
  3. I applied curves adjustment to create a punchier contrast and colour balance filter with cool tones to balance out the colours in the image.

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A street scene off the edge of Tiergarten park just before the Holocaust memorial. Having submitted my dissertation report just before my Berlin trip, the subject of war tourism and the research of war photographers in my essay were still fresh in me at the time. These forests gave me the world war two impression vibe as it had reminded me of the calm scenes of the miniseries, Band of Brothers (2001), just before the bombardment at the Battle of the Bulge in episode 6. Having done my two years of full-time National Service stint, I cannot imagine myself in those circumstances and I do not want to put myself in that forest. I  captured the scene in a two-dimensional form, utilising the strong visual lines of the traffic lights and the trees in the background.

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At the black sand pits in Iceland, a strong gust of wind picks up and everyone froze still, not wanting the sands to hit on their faces. I wanted to capture the scene of the people heading in the same direction towards a cave but they are all in an awkward standing position, hands covering their face from the sands.

Edit_BA8Not much editing was done on this images, but largely to open up shadows and control the highlights in camera raw file.

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This was the first time I have captured fog at the Mousehold Heath forest, Norwich. I think this stems out from a conversation I had with an acquaintance of mine back in Singapore about “printing wallpaper for hanging”. What he meant was about wanting to purchase fine art prints from me, while I showed him a couple of random wallpapers as a reference to what he actually said:

I didn’t know the author of the misty forest wallpaper in the reference image, but when I on the ground shooting the fog, I was probably trying to emulate the same atmosphere in the panoramic format; the strong verticle lines of the trees, the same crispness in the foreground and the blurriness at the background. In this case, it was interesting yet strange that such wallpaper images had a bit of influence on me. For such large format prints, I would have to go for a larger format camera as opposed to a full-frame digital format camera on hand.

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This image features a group of boats in the harbour in Portree, Scotland. Beyond the harbour lies a body of land, clouded in mist. The air of mystery surrounds what it could be.

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The editing process for this image was slightly different from my usual techniques. It is still a simple editing process on my camera raw file with addition graduated filter, and I added a cooling photo filter and toned it down a little to attain the bluish cinematic atmosphere. With the mist in the background, I figured this works the best for this image.

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Driving through a peculiar part of the landscape in the southern region of Iceland, what made this image more peculiar was that orange cube object among the pile of rocks and stones in the middle of nowhere. The cloudy weather only made the scene look foreboding.

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The editing process is fairly straightforward.

  1. Usual exposure blending process. the bottom half is largely the brighter exposure, while the top half the darker exposure.
  2. I didn’t want the orange cube object to stand out too much, so I desaturated the hue a little, so it blends in well with the surroundings.
  3. I added curves to increase contrast.
  4. And added colour balance to increase more blue hues. I used a gradient mask to control the filter and preventing the blue hues from overpowering.

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This was the most intense drive in my experience as I had unwittingly driven into a sudden snow blizzard while en route eastwards towards my next destination in Iceland. The roads became icy and poor visibility. I eventually found a closed petrol station and had to wait out until the storm had passed. This image shows the destructive force of nature in the form of the snow storm. At the time, somehow the heavy snow had reminded me of Ori Gersht’s sublime images of exploding flowers. I guess this would become the landscape version where the petrol station is going to be blown apart.

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Not much processing was done for this image. A large part of it was to pick the right frame. one determining factor was to find the images of the petrol station with sharp edges in contrast with the heavy snow. The other factor was the snow’s interaction with the lamp post. Many of the bokeh formed around the lamp post during the snow storm didn’t quite produce the perfect shot I was looking for. among all of the shots, I found one with an ‘X’ shapes light stood out the most for me. Below are the frames that did not make it to my list.

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I selected this image because the cloudy weather made the image foreboding, hence the cinematic approach to creating an orangey-alienish landscape. On industry relevancy, the first thing that came into my mind was computer wallpaper or a fine art print.

  1. I wanted to get details of the sky and the mountain peaks, and I could only get it by blending the two exposures together.
  2. I created a tonal curve adjustment and painted over the peaks to get a more punchy contrast.
  3. Next, I apply a Color Effex pro filter over to the layers, which would get me the orangey-alienish landscape.
  4. last but not least, I apply a cool colour balance over the image to tone down the warm orange tones.

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A wooden cross stands firmly on a cliff in the night sky, away from the city lights. When I came to this vantage point in Barcelona, I was immediately reminded of the tomb of Jesus Christ after his crucifixion on the cross. At the same time, I also remembered the works of the German painter, Caspar David Friedrich’s “The cross beside the Baltic“, which seeks to express the power of nature and illuminate the beauty and significance of Christ through nature. This image was shot from a low angle up such that the light from the moon forms a significance to the cross.

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  1. The original raw files were still too dark even after opening the shadows and reducing the orange hues. hence I had to blend three exposures together.
  2. I slowly paint out the rock details out, as well as the lighten the exposure on the cross.
  3. last but not least, I created colour balance filter to accentuate the blue hues, I used a radial gradient mask to prevent the colour balance filter from overpowering the image too much.

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This was captured during one of the supermoon phenomena where the moon becomes slightly larger and brighter than usual. The absence of street lights in the neighbourhood and the clear night sky heightens the bright white light from the moon to a dramatic effect, as though an apocalyptic meteorite has appeared. After seeing Joe Hilmarsson’s iconic image of the Aurora Borealis above Iceland which resembles an iridescent angel glowing in the night sky, I thought such phenomenon becomes a valid point for provocative landscapes.

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My editing processes for this image were also pretty much straight forward

  1. opening up shadows in my camera raw file
  2. toning down the orange hues and increasing blue hues
  3. I explored further with the detail extractor filter in Color Efex Pro, but found the effect not suitable for this image. this was because when the details are opened up, the eyes would be led away from the brightest light source and wander around the image first.
  4. to prove the point above, I edited a few variations with a lighter rendition, the one with the darkest shadows still stands out for me.

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This was taken during the aftermath of a fireworks display during the Bonfire Night festival. I meant to capture some fireworks display from a vantage point in Mousehold Heath.The last year we I took them near the city, it was extremely crowded. I thought of doing from that vantage point, but I didn’t expect that the crowd and photographers turnout would be equally great. I lost the interest to capture fireworks itself and began thinking of placing human elements into perspective. The idea was to capture a scene, something which I would not see often. But these fireworks had ended as fast as it began. I decided to linger a while longer to see what happens next, still clicking on my shutters.

When I framed my shot on the ground, I didn’t think of what sort composition to use. It just comes naturally as I shot the image. I had used a dynamic composition, Root 2 Rectangle fits perfectly here.

I picked this image as part of my series because the scene sort of depicts a dystopian world, as though an aftermath of a battle had occurred in the city and two figures were watching the scene happening. There seems to have a Sci-fi feel to it.

1. This image does not have complex processing. On my camera raw, I adjusted the exposure slightly brighter with some contrast and pushed the shadows to the maximum.

2. Since this is a full night image, chances of noise would be present and I wanted to suppress it. I applied noise reduction settings and a bit of post-crop vignetting to control the unwanted light spill.

3. To enhance the image further, I cloned in a crescent moon from my previous images and cloned out the stray light streaks at the bottom right corner. I used the dynamic composition, root-two rectangle to position the crescent moon.

Other Contenders 

Some of the images I have selected to be included in this series but were not printed out as part of my portfolio because I had to consider the bigger picture of balancing out with the other series. These images, in my opinion, were the weaker links.

After the completion of my dissertation on “The Provocative Landscape” in BA3a, I realised there were many other areas I had not really talked about. Hence I wanted to address them in a post here. This is still relevant for my research.

Dubai’s man-made islands

One area was that man-made islands or landscapes could be one of the points that relate to the provocative landscape. In a Travel+Leisure article, author Danielle Berman talks about Dubai’s Man-made Islands, which were meant to pique tourism and expand Dubai’s coastline. The mastermind behind these massive projects was the United Arab Emirates’ prime minister and Emir of Dubai.

Perhaps the most recognised of the bunch, Palm Jumeirah is aptly shaped like a palm tree, consisting of a trunk and 17 fronds, and surrounded by an almost 7-mile-long crescent-shaped island which is home to many luxury hotels and resorts that dot the archipelago). A process called land reclamation, which involves dredging sand from the Persian and Arabian Gulf’s floors. What is provocative about landscape was that the sand was then sprayed and “vibro-compacted” into shape using GPS technology for precision and surrounded by millions of tonnes of rock for protection.

The World (another Nakheel project) kicked off in 2003, and consists of around 300 small islands constructed into a world map. The stunning image of the man-made archipelago was taken by an astronaut far above our Earth on the International Space Station. It shows the World Islands development sitting in shallow waters just off Dubai’s coast but never got to be completed.

Phenomenon in landscapes 

Another area was the signs of a phenomenon in landscapes. In Jon Hilmarsson’s iconic image of the Aurora Borealis above Iceland resembles an iridescent angel glowing in the night sky. It was regarded as a controversial image that caught the media’s attention and eventually made it to a book by Fiona Finn – “I believe”, where she discusses the various and different religious signs that have been seen in pictures.

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In Jon Hilmarsson’s iconic image of the Aurora Borealis above Iceland resembles an iridescent angel glowing in the night sky. It was regarded as a controversial image that caught the media’s attention and eventually made it to a book by Fiona Finn – “I believe”, where she discusses the various and different religious signs that have been seen in pictures.

It seems, provocative landscapes could also be from a religious point of view, as though a sign from the heavens. Of course, this is just one of the many examples out there and the chances of encountering such phenomenon are very rare.

Thinking back, this is something which I had not thought about at the time of writing my dissertation, and I thought this might well be an exciting topic to talk about which I think seldom talked about the photographic world.

In this post are a couple of post-processings done after my initial edits, in which I discuss some of the finer details of the image that I had to re-process. For the ease of identifying, all images are the result of the initial edits, and all images on the right are my re-edits.

                               INITIAL EDIT                                                   RE-EDIT

For more than six months, I have been contented with the initial edit. Recently I was considering to select this for my portfolio, but the more I looked at it I can’t help but notice the yellow petals on the bottom slightly distracting. So I had it removed. After re-edit, it looks cleaner now.  Other bits include stray bees and flies in the air. these details are negligible but I removed them out anyway.

This cube image, the more I look at it the more I feel proud of it. My initial edit was a simple opening up of shadows. I had put the initial edit up everywhere and showed everyone. When I got back to this image after not seeing this image for a period of time, I decided to try and take the edits a step further, by adding a detail extractor filter.  I must say, I quite like the effect after applying the filter. It was a complete surprise I could still get away with more details even with this single raw file.

For this image, I was already extremely satisfied with the initial edit. I  loved the contrast of colours, and the fact it was the building from this angle was almost symmetrical. If one thing I had to pick on, was the perspective of the building; somehow it still looked “flat” to me. I reviewed the image again under my own criticism and realised there were more details I had missed out: there were no lights in the window on the right side of the building, not very symmetrical after all. Even after I have printed after the re-edit, I discovered tiny red lights (from the building behind) on the right side of the dome. It’s a bit annoying because once I see it, I can’t unsee. I don’t know, somehow the building still looks flat, this might need to re-edit again. But I shall leave it as it is for now.

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When I showed this image in both digital and printed form, I get a mix of critiques. Some liked the atmosphere, while some picked on the over-saturation of colours, that renders the image “unrealistic”. These feedbacks prompted me to re-look at my image again. I decided to tone down the blue saturation and make it slightly more contrast. I didnt like the desaturated version because it looked more like AdobeRGB accidentally downscaled to sRGB. I decided to go for a less-saturated version but a slightly more contrast; a bit of both world (middle one).

Conclusion

It is true that mistakes may reveal only when the image comes out in large prints. Well, prints are expensive so I have to train my eyes to look for detail and spot the blemishes and/or “mistakes” before I actually print it. But sometimes, I really do have to reprint.

Update 1: 20.02.17
Update 2: 16.03.17
Update 3: 30.04.17
Update 4: 14.05.17

 

In my essay, “The Provocative Landscape”, I have proposed that there could be three approaches to reading provocative landscape images: The controversial Image, The Dialectical Image and The Rhetorical Image. These approaches have been helpful in identify what landscape images can be considered provocative, though sometimes images do not fall into a single category. Thus, I have decided to use these following photographers’ works to further elaborate on my point.

Jerry Uelsmann

Jerry Uelsmann is an American photographer and a creative genius with an extraordinary previsualization abilities in the analogue world. His composite images translate surrealistic vision onto photographs. Uelsmann’s art is about more than just putting pictures together. What I liked about his photographic practices is that his style is has been a mixture of playfulness, experimentation and a disregard for the intellectualization of and within his images. He takes a non-intellectual attitude toward using his camera to collect aspects of his environment that provide him with a base of materials that can be formed into his images. Uelsmann likes the fact that the viewer completes the image, that they find some personal basis that they can either pass over or they can relate to it. He does not have a hidden agenda that they have to have a specific response to.

His images are created with three distinctive parts: The first part is his collection of seemingly random items to be used in his images. Next, is forming the artwork by assembling ideas and items from his library of found and preconceived pictures. The assembly is where his vision and aesthetics, along with mastery of the alchemy, give the distinctive look to his images. These two parts of Uelsmann’s process are not that different from many photographers, but the third part differs from the way many conceive their images.

The third stage is the most interesting part of Uelsmann’s approach. While his images can be defined by their symbolism and subconscious overtones, these aren’t the critical factors. He leaves the important part of the functioning of the art to his audience. At a question-and-answer session, when asked what an image meant, Uelsmann said that he doesn’t try to answer questions of meaning with his images, but rather asks the audience to help him seek answers. The audience completes the image, not Uelsmann. This is why he doesn’t title many of his images. He doesn’t want the words in the title to interfere with the audience’s experience of his images at any level.

Uelsmann employs multiple enlargers to create multiple exposures in his photography works. For example, in the image of the house with the tree roots, the tree roots would be in one enlarger, the building in another. He does a crude drawing on a sheet of paper first before blendings them together. He would re-adjust and make larger prints if he really liked them.

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In the case of the tree building, by knowing where the edge of the tree was and lining up with the edge of the building. Then he would dodge the one side so it gradually blends into the other. Because of his mastery of blending images seamlessly into new juxtapositions and photography’s acceptance as real by the audience, this adds to the reality that’s so important for the surreal images he creates. While his images may seem implausible, the reality created by his craft in the darkroom allows the viewer to see them as potentially real, if unlikely. In his iconic image of a house growing from tree roots, it’s clear that Uelsmann’s mastery of the way the two images come together allows the audience to interact with the concept of an abandoned and deteriorating house growing from the roots.

At first glance, Jerry Uelsmann’s landscape works seem to fall into the controversial image, because of his highly creative technique in combining multiple exposures into a single image. However, the ultimate goal Uelsmann’s images try to achieve is that dialectical approach that makes one question the reality of the subject and comes out with an answer what these visuals they see in the image really means to them.

Jem Southam

UK Photographer Jem Southam is renowned for his series of colour landscape photographs whose trademark is the patient observation of changes at a single location over many months or years. Southam’s subjects are predominately situated in the South West of England where he lives and works. He observes the balance between nature and man’s intervention and traces cycles of decay and renewal. His work combines topographical observation with other references: personal, cultural, political, scientific, literary and psychological. Southam’s working method combines the predetermined and the intuitive. Seen together, his series suggest the forging of pathways towards visual and intellectual resolution.

Like the photographs in ‘The Painter’s Pool’ Jem Southam had created some wonderfully complex compositions, which cannot be deconstructed easily with a simple formula. He makes images from what must initially seem quite a chaotic subject matter with branches very close to his camera lens. Compared to a photographer, how does an artist who draws or paints deal with the extraordinary visual complexities presented when standing in the canopy of a wood? How can one possibly make a series of marks on the surface of a piece of paper when confronted say by the tens of thousands of twigs and leaves present, as one stands and contemplates such a view?

The series of pictures grew partly out of that motivation from these conversations he had with his colleague one day and he has continued to be fascinated by the challenges of making pictures in similar conditions; pictures that are complex and demand a patient attention. Working with a 10×8 and sheet film which dictates a slower, more thoughtful approach and requires tremendous effort from the photographer as the camera can often take minutes to set up before an image can be visualised and then it is upside down and back-to-front. A lot of Jem’s pictures require the use of a step ladder which he has to lug around with his heavy tripod and photography equipment.

Many of Jem Southam’s landscape works can be considered the dialectical image because his initial ideas had been informed by the questions he raised in which he tries to address them through his photographs. This, in turn, creates the response in the audience so as to ascertain whether they agreed with the image or not.

Richard Misrach

Richard Misrach is an American photographer who produces coloured photographs with large-format traditional cameras that meditate on human intervention in the landscape and probe the environmental impact of industry. Misrach’s images also convey concern with colour, light, and time. His best-known series, “Desert Cantos”, captures the awful beauty of human-wrought disasters in the desert; other subjects include the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and dramatic weather systems around the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. The photographer divides his series into cantos. While cantos in literature are parts of a long song or a poem, the cantos in Misrach’s oeuvre are subsections of a large thematic series that embraces several years. If we speak of definitions, these cantos, which in their independence and uniqueness, provide a new dimension to understanding and defining the word “desert” by adding and expanding the whole theme. In Misrach’s “The Highway” and “The Terrain” cantos, we see highways and railroads. “The Flood” is about buildings, cars and gas stations flooded by the Salton Sea.

As it often happens when one theme evolves into the other, Richard Misrach’s works may touch upon a very essential aspect that moves further from the boundaries of his oeuvre. In recent years, having kept the meaning of its content, the terms “social landscape” and “altered landscape” have acquired some additional overtones thanks to the form of their presentation. The issue is the format of images.

There are many great images I am inspired by Richard Misrach. One those image which perhaps I felt most connected to was The Wall, Jacumba, California, an image Misrach captured in 2009 which depicts the U.S.-Mexico border often show a fence and desolation on either side. The clouds covering the mountain ridges suggests the scene with an ominous atmosphere. It has that depth which conveys the scale of the dessert terrain. It is not vividly coloured, but there are a lot of details hidden within the landscape which might provoke one’s response into thinking what is there within those vast spaces. Hence from this image, Richard Misrach’s works suggest a dialectical image.

Filip Dujardin

Filip Dujardin is a Belgian photographer, famous for his unique architecture photography. Dujardin initially studied art history (specialisation architecture) and part-time art education photography. In 2008, he gained international fame with Fictions, a series of fictional structures created using a digital collaging technique from photographs of real buildings in and around Ghent, Belgium. 

This is a very conceptual approach to architecture photography and pretty darn provocative because those intriguing buildings seem perfectly ordinary at first glance but it then reveals their fictional nature as the viewer registers missing or incongruous details.

 

Filip Dujardin architecture works definitely falls under the rhetorical image category because the focus was on the contextual response rather than the aesthetic response. It attempts to address issues and challenges the perception of the viewers by raising questions to prove its point, thus persuading them to acknowledge the photographer’s ideas.

 

Taiyo Onorato and Nico Krebs – The great Unreal

Taiyo Onorato and Nico Krebs had travelled through the United States for several months, working ‘on the road’ on the photo series The Great Unreal. The photographic work deals with reality and the fabrication of reality. The geography of America serves as both setting and fertile ground for the examination. Mysticism and demystification are important aspects in this process, as is working with a rich inventory of visual icons that can be continually deconstructed and manipulated. The working method of both photographers is based on interventions prescribed mostly by happenstance and change. Through repetition and associative placement, the sometimes crude, sometimes subtle interventions begin to link to one another, establishing an exciting transformation of reality that only hesitatingly reveals itself to the viewer.

 

Conclusion

Artists and photographers have engaged with a wide variety of techniques and continuously sought to evolve their photographic practices through time. Through this research, I have found that for some landscape photographers, it is not the technique that makes an image provocative, but the interaction between the image (how it was created) and the audience (what kind of emotion does it evoke) that makes the image provocative.

References

http://www.digitalphotopro.com/profiles/jerry-uelsmann-the-alchemist/
https://www.onlandscape.co.uk/2013/03/jem-southam-interview/
http://www.npr.org/2014/11/22/365937723/lost-then-found-along-the-border-objects-become-art
http://www.photographer.ru/cult/theory/694.htm
http://www.featureshoot.com/2012/01/photographs-of-impossible-architecture-by-filip-dujardin/
https://www.editionpatrickfrey.com/en/books/great-unreal-1-ed-taiyo-onorato-nico-krebs

Photographer List

A List of photographers whose works has influenced me, one way or the other. This list contains links to the photographers’ portfolio, my analysis of their works/images, spanning across my research from year two to year three and is not exhaustive.

Masters / Deceased (9)

Ansel Adams                | AnalysisResearch
Raghubir Singh            | Analysis
Thomas Annan            | Research
Lewis Hine                    | Research
Robert Capa                  | Research
Saul Leiter                     | Analysis 
Bill Brant                       | Analysis 
Keith Arnatt                 | Analysis
Storm Thorgerson      | Analysis

Landscapes (21)

Gregory Crewdson    | Analysis 
Edward Burtynsky    | Analysis 
Tim Simmons            | Analysis
Darren Soh                 | Analysis
Dan Holdsworth        | Analysis
Finn Beales                 | Analysis
Karen Granger           | Analysis
Masashi Wakui          | Analysis
Trey Ratcliff                | Analysis
Julian Calverley         | Analysis
Micheal Gordon         | Research
Chloe Dewe Matthews  | Research
Terri Weifenbach      | Photo
Nick Meek                   | Photo
Stephen Shore           | Photo
Ted Gore                      | Photo
Fong  Qi Wei               | Photo
Lucas ZimmermannPhoto
Paul Sarawak             | Photo
Martin Rak                 | Photo
Jem Southam              | Analysis    (BA3b)
Richard Misrach        | Analysis   (BA3b)

Documentary (13)

Steve McCurry             | Analysis 1 Analysis 2
Sebastiao Saldago       | AnalysisResearch
Katryn White                | Guest Speaker
Kasia Wozniak             | Guest Speaker
Jillian Edelstein           | Guest Speaker
Carl Bigmore                | Guest Speaker
Pedro Meyers               | Research
Luc Delahaye                | Research
Paul Seawright            | Research
Nick Brandt                  | Research
Sam Hurd                      | Photo
Richard Moss                   | Analysis
Simon Norfolk                 | Research

Commercial / Still Life  (16)

Oliviero Toscani          | AnalysisResearch
Serge Ramelli              | AnalysisPhoto
Carol Sharp                  | Guest Speaker
Andy Earl                      | Guest Speaker
Scott Grummett         | Guest Speaker
Luke Stephenson       | Guest Speaker 
Sam Kaplan                  | Analysis
David Lachapelle        | Analysis
Dan Tobin Smith        | Analysis
Aaron Nace                   | Photo
Nadav Kander              | Photo
Ben Stockley                | Photo
Bene Tan                       | Photo
Pelle Cass                      | Photo
Dina Belenko               | Photo
Louie Rochon               | Photo

Fashion / Commercial  (9)

Lottie Davies               | Guest Speaker
James A Grant             | Guest Speaker
Hayley Louisa BrownGuest Speaker
Mika Ninagawa          | Analysis
Finlay McKay              | Analysis
Eugenio Recuenco     | Analysis
Alan Mcfetridge          | Analysis     (BA3b)
Sam Barker                  | Analysis    (BA3b)

Nick Knight                 | Photo
Nikki Harrison           | Photo
Dmitry Arhar              | Photo

Fine Arts / Experimental (12)

Benjamin Von Wong| Analysis 1Analysis 2
Wynn Bullock             | Analysis
Rob Woodcox              | Analysis
Kelly Richardson       | Analysis
Anish Kapoor              | Analysis
Yayoi Kusama             | Analysis
Phillip Keel                  | Analysis
Rinko Kawauchi         | Research
Richard Mosse            | Analysis
Ori Gersht                    | Research
James Turrell               | Research
Marius Vieth               | Photo
Carl Warner                | Analysis  (BA3b)