Portrait Landscape

Landscape and portrait. Imagine if TV and cinema screens were portrait? I have seen films shot and shown that way but they are usually ‘experimental’ films, maybe with such lightweight equipment and the nil cost of digital I should try it. I often take ‘long’ landscapes, usually to highlight the contrast between distance and foreground. Looking through some of the photographs I have taken I keep using the landscape as my subject, far more so than any of people. That may tell myself and you something about me.

Scanned at www.exposure22.com

When I was in Canada in 1972 I was 18. The vastness, heat, difference of it was overwhelming. I had been at art school since the age of 16, at Leek School of Art, learning skills and most importantly learning to see. Many of the photographs I took were the sort which say, ‘I have been there’, but enough show a genuine realisation of my surroundings and the potential in them. At that time I was mainly concentrating on painting, the light, shapes and colours were central to my thinking. Coming from the middle of England with its greys and watered down colours meant that the brightness of the Alberta prairies and mountains was like ‘opening the shutter a few stops’ (to use an old photography analogy).  The two photographs above and below, were shot in Alberta using my Zenith with 55mm lens on Ektachrome and show how I was looking at a wider landscape rather than, as nowadays, studying the details, I was thinking like a painter.

Scanned at www.exposure22.com

The next two both come from 1979. The first a mountain/hill taken from a moving train on a journey between Seattle and Chicago in early January. Whether it was the light/weather conditions or whatever, I have always been quite pleased with this photograph. The flatness, the strange green colour (this is not enhanced), the abstract nature of the image, very different and equally a more mature picture. At that time I was working on and making films of my own and with others.

Scanned at www.exposure22.com

The other picture is of Borth station just north of Aberystwyth in early September 1979. Again, looking for more in the landscape than just a representation. Both were taken on an OM-1 using a 50mm and 28mm lens with Ektachrome and Kodachrome 25 respectively. I can see how I was thinking as a film-maker, both have potential for more than is shown. They could be the background to future events.

Scanned at www.exposure22.com

The final two photographs are taken 3 weeks ago in Llysfaen. Here I knew what I wanted to take and had planned both photographs before I went as I knew the place so well. I wanted them to illustrate my poem Telegraph Hill, the lines:

To the south Snowdonia’s foothills cyfriniaeth mountains…

llysfaentosnowdonia

…a quilt of fields lain over limestone

llysfaenclwyds

They are illustrating my memories and using a portrait composition which defines the images, focusses on what I remember. In these I am thinking as a writer.

I am not a photographer, I don’t think in those terms. Overall I would like to think people see me as I do an artist who uses photography, writing, film, paint, wood; and that from way back in the early 70’s is the way I have thought about and seen things.

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