Understanding the Photographic Image

Topics: Photography, Ansel Adams, Nature photography Pages: 9 (2389 words) Published: April 26, 2015

Sylwia Jurek


BA (hons) Photography
Year 1

Historical & Contextual Studies in Photography

Module: Understanding the Photographic Image

Tutor: Fiona Hackett
Essay Question
'' Photographs direct the sense we make of place and it was the medium of photography which largely thought us to look at landscapes as organisations of man-made spaces. Through photography the vernacular America, in particular, have been imagined and therefore understood. '' Discuss these claims considering, in particular the concepts of 'cultural landscape' and 'geographical imagining' drawing from the work of at least two photographers. 11/12/2014

Landscape photography typically focuses on the presence of nature, but also can focus on man-made features or disturbances of landscapes. This genre of photography is often referred to as the ' beautiful ' genre, because landscapes focus significantly on the aesthetics of nature and man-made spaces. It can be very influential, as it can persuade our geographical imagination, and create a completely new outlook on today's world, for example in the aspect of global environmental catastrophe. Many landscapes show little or no human activity and are created in the pursuit of nature, landforms, weather and ambient light. Notable landscape photographers are Ansel Adams, Robert Adams and Edward Weston. Their photographs belong to the genre of landscapes , even though they differ a lot, they are aesthetically appealing to the audience. Ansel photographed very picturesque, painting-like national parks, Robert focused on man-altered landscapes and Edward focused on californian, nearly abstract landscape photography. Ansel Adams in his book '' In Color '' talks about the use of color in landscape photography. He is known from his black and white photographs, but this time we have a chance to take a closer look at his colourfull and beautiful images. Ansel explains exactly why he was always more interested in black and white photography. '' During my professional years, I did a lot of work with kodachrome. I never engaged in colour printing, but I did concern myself with printing press productions (…) I stayed with black and white photography simply, because I enjoyed the ' controls ' the process offered. However, I feel strongly that colour photography is one of the major expressions of our time. '' ( Ansel Adams, p.12 ) However, nowadays the technology and the way of preservation of photographs increased dramatically and I believe that colour landscape photography is a substitute to black and white analog print, back in the days of Adams' biggest activity. Digital photography is almost unlimited and the ' controls ' moved onto a new level, which could be successfully compared to slides and options in adobe photoshop. Ansel Adams in his book '' In Color '' shows us the aspect of his picturesque photographs. He tries to show us the world from the beautiful side, that the public would just consume. People love everything that's beautiful and we can judge that by photography. More people would buy a beautiful photograph of the beach, for example, than an abstract work of a different photographer, even though they are both breathtaking. Geographical imagination is knowing the world through pictures, however it is actually different than being there in person. When we visit a place, we get a three-dimentional experience and a sense of place that the location offers us. Every time we go back to the same place, the sense changes due to physical factors such as like the ambient light or the time of the year, so our impression can be varied depending when we visit this place. This is definitely not the case when it comes to photographs. Photographs are precise, almost perfect and what we see, might not always be really the way we would see it when we go to the exact location. Photographers show the world from their point of view and the perspective is strictly shown...

Cited: Adams, Ansel. ' ' In Color ' ' Eds. Harry M. Callahan et al. New York: Little, Brown and company, 1993. Print
Adams, Robert. ' 'Beauty in Photography: Essays in Defence of Traditional Values ' ', Aperture. Millerton, New York, 1981
Nye, David E. ' 'De- realizing the Grand Canyon ' ', Emotion in Postmodernism, Ed. Gerard Hoffmann, Alfred Hornung. Heidelberg: Universistsverlay C. Winter, 1997. Print
Schwartz, J.M. ' ' The Geography Lesson: Photographs and the construction of imaginative geographies. ' ' Journal of Historical Geography, 1966. Print
Shinkle, Eugenie. ' ' Prelude to a Future: Global Risk and Environmental Apocalypse in Contemporary Landscape Photography. ' ' Westminister, UK, 2014. Print
Weston, Edward “European Colour Photography”, The Photographers’ Gallery, London, 1978. Exhibition catalogue
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