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Landscape art is the depiction in art of landscapes,
natural scenery such as mountains, valleys, trees,
rivers, and forests, and especially art where the
main subject is a wide view, with its elements
arranged into a coherent composition.

In other  works landscape backgrounds for figures
can still form an important part of the work..
Sky is almost always included in the view,
and weather is often an element of the composition.  

Detailed landscapes as a distinct subject are
not found in all artistic traditions, and develop
when there is already a sophisticated tradition
of representing other subjects.
The two main traditions spring from Western
painting and Chinese art, going back
well over a thousand years in both cases.
The above from Wikipaedia

T H E   L A N D S C A P E   T R A D I T I O N   I N   A R T

T o view a more quirky set of examples of landscape painting visit this site by clicking on the gorgeous Turner watercolour below.

Landscape photography shows spaces within the world, sometimes vast and unending, but other times microscopic.

Photographs typically capture the presence of nature but can also focus on man-made features or disturbances of landscapes.

Many landscape photographs show little or no human activity and are created in the pursuit of a pure, unsullied depiction of nature devoid of human influence, instead featuring subjects such as strongly defined landforms, weather, and ambient light.

As with most forms of art, the definition of a landscape photograph is broad, and may include urban settings, industrial areas, and nature photography

The above from Wikipaedia

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P H O T O G R A P H Y   O F   T H E   M O R E   

O B V I O U S   ( C L I C H E D ? )   K I N D.

The Fine Art and Documentary photographers take great pride in thinking themselves superior to the other main genres of photography, such as the family snap shooter or the amateur photographer, as personified by camera club imagery. However, after 30/40 years of viewing our work, I have come to the conclusion that we too are fairly predictable in what we photograph.

The long landscape.

Panoramic cameras are the latest fad for shooting landscapes, and a good view of icebergs and, or, fjords are a perfect subject for this treatment.

I could go on, but I think you will get the gist of what I am saying. I know many of you will now be thinking, “ What a cynic”, but firstly there is much work that falls into these categories that I really respond to, indeed nearly all the work I like could have a grouping that feature in my list. I think the point I am making is that we need to consider our subject matter more carefully. When I am looking through student folios I often say these things, and usually people look at me as if to say “how dare you question what I am shooting.”

But if we think of what is going on in our world, there seems to be many subjects which are avoided, because we all need that echo of familiarity to help us have the confidence to make a body of work. We want to emulate the impact that these images had on us, and this can be as restricting as it can be liberating.


Martin Parr  Nov 2010.

Now I don’t want to be totally dismissive here – clichés are overdone because many people actually like them, the poor deluded fools. It’s even possible to take a cliché and do something different and new with it. But that's rare.

Most are just a dreary repeat of something that was once fresh, clever and/or challenging. I’ve heard that the key points from where Ansel Adams took some of his classic landscapes are regularly infested by snappers with low-grade SLRs, hoping to repeat his triumphs. Geeks looking for his tripod holes. Er, he used a large format camera on the roof of his car guys – do you really think you’re going to do it better or reinterpret in some way? As if!

So what are the top ten clichés, the hackneyed themes that should be avoided at all costs unless you think you can do it in some fresh and clever way? These are my pick – some are obvious. Some are just what people do with a camera, others are sins committed by actual enthusiasts.

If your little point-and-shoot has a scene mode for it, it’s probably a cliché. And yes, I have committed all these crimes and sometimes tried to transcend them. Mea culpa.

By the way, it's not lost on us that doing a ‘Top 10' list of clichés is in itself a cliché! Oh well, sometimes you just have to push on and hope not too many people noticed!

http://www.australianphotograph y.com/news/top-10-biggest-cliches-in-photography

cliché or cliche  is an expression, idea, or element of an artistic work which has become overused to the point of losing its original meaning, or effect, and even, to the point of being trite or irritating, especially when at some earlier time it was considered meaningful or novel.

http://www.dpreview.com/challeng es/Entry.aspx?ID=693167&View=R esults&Rows=4

"And then my heart with pleasure fills

And dances with the Daffodils"

 We should recall that Wordsworth's image derives not only from his own observation, but also from Dorothy Wordsworth's journal text. Dorothy's recollection sounds initially like that of a natural historian:

"The hawthorns are black and green, the birches here and there greenish but there is yet more of purple to be seen on the twigs . . . a few primroses by the roadside, wood-sorrel flower, the anemone, scentless violets, strawberries, and that starry yellow flower which Mrs. C. calls pile wort. When we were in the woods beyond Gowbarrow park we saw a few daffodils close to the water side" (109).

Then, in an important transitional sentence, Dorothy reveals her "fancy" going to work on these objects of nature:

"We fancied that the lake had floated the seeds ashore and that the little colony had so sprung up. But as we went along there were more and yet more and at last under the boughs of the trees, we saw that there was a long belt of them [the end we did not see (erased)] along the shore, about the breadth of a country turnpike road" (109).

Only at this moment does Dorothy launch into the poetic possibility that these flowers can be more closely linked to human emotions than we might think, even as she gives up on formal grammar and syntax:

"I never saw daffodils so beautiful they grew among the mossy stones about and about them, some rested their heads upon these stones as on a pillow for weariness and the rest tossed and reeled and danced and seemed as if they verily laughed with the wind that blew upon them over the lake, they looked so gay ever glancing ever changing" (109, 15 April 1802).

http://www.rc.umd.edu/praxis/e cology/nichols/nichols.html

All the harsh comments above can be dismaying especially if the plain fact of it is that we enjoy photographs of sunsets, mountainous terrain and  moody seascapes.


Professional photographers and those photographers would like to think of themselves as artists always seem to fear that which the general public enjoy.


Popular landscape photography is often easily dismissed as cliche and, as such, unworthy of our respect.


I would suggest that the genre landscape painting grew up and prospered because the public and even the artistic elite enjoyed the genre, surely that is the nature of all genres.

They may say, the artistic elite that is, that their enjoyment grew out of the skills of the landscape painters. I would argue that the massive success of the genre grew out of the fact that most people enjoy, take pleasure in, certain types of natural scenery.


The notion of enjoying natural scenery was considered an absolute healthy and praiseworthy in the Romantic period, (see side bar.)


We should not then be too hard on ourselves if we find ourselves, as photographers, trying to emulate landscape painters or photographing that scene which has, perhaps, been photographed thousands of times before.


Photographic magazines relentlessly show much praised  photographs of Bamburgh Castle in addition after edition.

This did not stop me from attempting my own take on that magnificent combination of mediaeval castle and vast seascape.

I tell myself that I was attempting photographically to do it better than any other photographer has ever done but I suspect much of the pleasure was in the activity itself which caused me to really look  at that great seascape and skyscape.


Students attempting A-level photography are involved in a learning process; this will often involve copying well-known scenes or styles to see if they can get close to the Masters who have photographed it before them.


In modern digital photography this will involve not only the in camera skills but the careful processing of the photographic files in Photoshop or similar.

These activities are learning curves and as such must be applauded.

We learn by doing and it would be our hope that having learned from copying, and few of us ever copy slavishly, we will all eventually find our own individual way of seeing

The poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge understands this connection between pleasure within the self and pleasure taken from the external world, although he describes the link more dispassionately and more ambiguously than even Wordsworth.

We might call Coleridge's version of this phenomenon transference: that is, our own emotions can be transferred onto nature for psychological reasons.

http://www.rc.umd.edu/praxis/ecolog y/nichols/nichols.html

If you visit this site (click on the image above) you will encounter some of the ways in which the public's enjoyment of nature is marketed.

These DVDs, whether with music or natural sounds, are very popular worldwide and sell in large numbers. This would not happen were there not something intrinsic in certain images of nature which produce pleasure in the human animal.

Coleridge, one of the foremost Romantic poets, is clear on the connectedness of human beings to the natural world.

B A M B U R G H   C A S T L E   V A R I A T I O N S   O N   A   L A N D S C A P E

Bamburgh Castle in Northumberland has been painted and photographed since the early 19th century. Turner spent days there sketching.

It appears regularly in photographic magazines, on postcards and wins prizes for best landscape regularly in photography clubs.

It has been and remains a cliche of the black and white and colour photography genre of landscape.

This does not stop thousands of photographers and tourists from visiting Bamburgh its famous beach.

Each photographer is after his or her own take on this magnificent castle in its magnificent setting. I use the word magnificent because that is what it is.

It's a huge mediaeval Castle overlooking a vast seascape, it is just the thing that excites the imagination and stirs the soul. For most people the feelings it evokes is hardwired, its power is drawn, it would seem, from mankind's intrinsic relationship with nature and the elements.

Below are some of my attempts at capturing, if capturing is the right verb, the various moods of this landscape/ seascape.

Bamburgh Castle is always in colour and yet I have included a black and white or greyscale panorama, why is this?

It is because within the traditions of photography black and white has beenthe dominant medium for over 100 years and many of the great practitioners of landscape photography worked only in black and white, one need only think of the work of Ansel Adams.

Other variations below have clearly been Photo shopped extensively in that levels of contrast have been increased or decreased in certain areas and colour saturation has also been extensively used.

As photography students you should be able to show the examiner especially in your landscape work that you are capable of these sort of variations and do not simply click once, go away or having clicked once simply printed out the photograph before getting down to the serious work of photo shop enhancement.

Looking across lake toward mountains, "Evening, McDonald Lake, Glacier National Park," Montana., 1933 - 1942

Ansel Adams

Un processed raw file deliberately under exposed.

Raw file above extensively processed in Photoshop.

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