Cameron’s View On The Picturesque

Recent clear cut.

The landscape shown here is of a recent clear cut that took place by my house. One of the reasons I chose this picture as an example of the picturesque was because of the ruggedness of the landscape. Branches lie everywhere the eye can see, with grass and moss growing on the many components of the ground slowly taking back the fallen nutrients. It is not an inviting landscape, the ground is strewn with all sorts of forest debris and the chance of a sprained ankle is imminent. While I was taking this picture I couldn’t help but feel moved by the death of the landscape. Everything I could see was wilted, splintered, or dead in a way that nature can’t come out on top of. Forest fires, and storms can devastate an area similar to this one just as badly. The difference although, is that in the case of a storm the trees remain on the ground, in this case they were taken away. Leaving the ground robbed of it’s nutrients and forced to secure them through other means. Yet, In the seemingly dead landscape you can see all sorts of life sprouting up through the wreckage. I grew up near those trees, I’ve been playing in similar areas my entire life and have seen this happen many of times. John Ruskin a painter from the 19th century who specialized in the picturesque commented on the fact that the picturesque has a sort of “parasitic” relationship to the sublime. Ruskin explains that the picturesque contains features that are sublime, but out of their proper context making them more parasitic to the sublime than anything. This picture is a good example of this theory, it has sublime properties yet cannot be called awe-inspiring, or grandiose. For example, I mentioned earlier the amount of life that is growing out of the wreckage. It’s amazing to see those plants thrive, yet their survival is based on the death and decay of millions of other plants and wildlife. If the field was barren then the presence of the newly growing plant-life would truly have been awe-inspiring, but it is not, thus my picture is parasitic of the sublime.

Works Cited: http://www.victorianweb.org/authors/ruskin/atheories/3.2.html

Cameron’s Picturesque Photo Essay Part 2

Part of the reason that I felt the clear cut picture was picturesque is because of my background with living near the forest. My entire life I have loved nature and all of its extreme’s, the forest has been a wonderful influence on my life. The picture taken above is the forest behind my house, as you can see it lacks the ruin that is presented in the clear cut picture. This picture is a prime example of the sublime to me, it captures so much life and natural beauty, it is “awe-inspiring”. What does this mean then for the sublime and the picturesque? Are they just opposing words? No, I would say that both words actually have more in common then in difference. Both words are used to describe something that inspires on an emotional level. The clear cut picture and this one for instance are both of equal greatness; the first achieving this through a picturesque portrayal, and the second through a portrayal of the sublime. Thus a picture of the sublime cannot be said to be greater then a picture of the picturesque in similar contexts. What can be said is that the feeling granted through looking at the two pictures is different. The sublime, in my opinion invigorates and excites, making you wish you were in the picture. The picturesque excites, and invigorates you as well, but with a feeling more inclined to be the one viewing the picture and speculating on it. Focusing a little less on the sublime and concentrating on the picturesque can help distinguish them. John Ruskin a painter of the picturesque mentioned earlier, believes that there are two forms of the picturesque: one with a heart, and the other heartless. Ruskin explains that the “heartless” picturesque “by its natural concentration on ruin, encourages the artist and spectator to delight in sad, painful things for the sake of interesting lines and colors to the neglect of the human significance of the scene depicted.”. Examples of this include “broken windmills” or “weakened men” where the artist is merely trying to depict something of “visual interest”. This form of the art “neglects the higher forms of the beautiful to portray broken rocks and thatched roofs”, it is not parasitic of the sublime, it isn’t sublime at all. Because the “heartless” depiction of the picturesque cannot appeal to the sublime, it cannot hold as much admiration. This I believe should qualify the depiction not picturesque, but ruinesque, since the appeal to ruin is stronger then the appeal to the sublime.

Cameron’s Picturesque Photo-Essay Part 3

In this portion of my photograph essay I am going to talk about camera techniques, capturing landscapes, and tips for taking pictures. Taking pictures of landscapes seems like an easy feat, and for the most part it is. Most landscapes we photograph are beautiful enough that any camera angle can’t help but be beautiful as well. On the other hand, in order to reap the full reward from taking the picture you really must explore with different angles, viewpoints, and much much more. For example the picture I included here is the same backyard as in the previous post, but the camera is tilted and raised above my head. By doing this I have allowed myself to see the scenery in a different light. At least in my imagination the picture went from being a classic river landscape that I have explored extensively, to a river flowing down the side of a mountain with trees tipping precariously over what seems to turn into a waterfall. I also seemed to capture more of the river by turning my camera like this, allowing the viewer to see the rapids that my smooth flowing river leads too. Other then tilting or raising your camera to capture a better view there are plenty of other things that can be done to increase the intrinsic value of your picture. Kodak.com shares loads of tips for taking photos of nature, here I will talk about some of the tips I felt were helpful to me. One of the things that you can do to better capture a picture is to “step into the light”. Kodak says to “Look for interesting combinations of color, light, shadow and texture.” this may mean changing the zoom setting or flash setting of your camera, just work with things until you think you have it just right. Speaking about settings Kodak also says that when taking a picture you should “explore your camera modes”. Most cameras have at least three settings including: “Landscape mode” which “optimizes the camera settings for landscape photos and capturing objects at great distances”, I used this mode on my camera when taking my pictures. “Macro-mode” is also another helpful mode that is “perfect for taking extreme close-up photos”. And lastly “Panorama stitch mode” which can stitch several pictures together. Another thing that Kodak warns about, is that you should be careful of glare in your pictures. This happens when light obstructs the photo, and can be avoided by simply changing your position or angle. Although changing settings and the angle of your shot is important, remember that what makes a picture beautiful is primarily the picture itself. This is why Kodak reminds us that one of the most important aspects of taking a picture is “Location, location, location”. Get out of your house and explore nature until you find that one view that you want to keep forever, and capture it.

Works Cited: http://www.kodak.com/ek/US/en/Home_Main/Tips_Projects_Center/Learn/Photo_Tips_Techniques/Nature_Photography/Nature_Photography.htm

Cameron’s Picturesque Photo Essay part 4

I decided to show this picture before I show my last picturesque photo because of the houses in the background. After reading about Kodaks tips, and Ruskin’s theories on the picturesque, the houses in the background bothered me. The straight architecture of the buildings which is neat and uniform, along with the pleasing color of paint that was used on the buildings disqualifies this picture from the picturesque. The fields around the house on the other hand present a picturesque quality which I will talk about in my last post. Regarding the houses it is important to mention that man made architecture can be used in a picturesque photograph. These photos though will depict rough houses with a strong presence of ruin, such as a run down building, or fragmented structure of some sort. The clean edges of the houses in my background don’t appeal to ruin or bring the same amount of emotional upheaval that could classify them as picturesque. Since I had decided that this picture could not be used for one of my main pieces, it was up to me to find an angle that would work. I realized that if I zoomed in a little bit, and changed the angle from which I was viewing the landscape, that I could completely erase the presence of the houses. This allowed me to focus on the picturesque quality that I wanted to develop upon in this assignment. This also goes to show that by taking the Kodak tips to heart, you can really improve upon your photography.

Cameron’s Picturesque Photo Essay Final Part

This is the second picturesque photo that I captured. It lacks details, and all presence of human life, the landscape isn’t even of much beauty. If you were stranded in a place like this I imagine it would be much like a desert of grass. So what makes this picture picturesque? Remember how earlier I talked about how the picturesque is parasitic of the sublime. In this picture you are presented with a rolling landscape and a beautiful blue sky, the landscape would be sublime if it had more detail, more color, and more life. Yet since it is devoid of these characteristics it is simply parasitic of the sublime, making it picturesque. This picture to me seems to capture the seemingly endless supply of rolling fields that the Palouse is famous for. The lines in the field and waving grass give it a texture that can’t be reproduced by any artwork, the position of the landscape with the mountain fading away in the background makes the closer mountain almost shout with color and details by comparison. This brings up something that I really love about this picture; If you look at the sky, it slowly fades from blue to white, the hill even seems to fade away with the one in the background. It seems almost that the flash on my camera brought this portion of the landscape to life, and that without it, the sky would have sat without color, and the hills without texture. Another thing that I found just as interesting is the miniature forest that is visible on top of the hill to the right. It looks to me like a beacon of hope for any and all types of life in this grass desert. Like an oasis I can already feel the shade from those trees keeping the hot sun off of my back, I can taste the berries provided from the shrubbery, and feel the adrenaline of chasing game through the tree’s. This picture truly captures the picturesque and tells a story that is magnificent. I hope I have helped shed some light on the picturesque, also I hope you enjoyed my pictures!

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