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The Last Post

Lower the flag, sound the bugle.  

I have now received feedback from my tutor on Assignment 6 so LPE is effectively now finished.  The final step is to prepare for assessment in March next year (and I am nearly ready for that) so this will in all likelihood be my final post on this course.  Although I am producing a submission document to go for assessment I am not proposing to make it public and post it here.  So here is the final feedback:

Overall Comments

(RM: Congratulations on completing the course.  You have produced thoughtful and engaging work throughout.)

This final assignment of the module, although from my own point of view not the best work I have done (although I am not entirely unhappy with it) has been an extremely useful exercise in a number of respects and to an extent serves to tie together much of the work that I have done over the course of the year and has helped to develop and established some of my views about the concept of landscape in photography.

Feedback on assignment 

This has worked well.  The regular and disciplined approach, photographing every week throughout the year, as opposed to a mere handful of times, has clearly paid dividends and has meant that the locality has been well observed, has had close attention paid to it.  Your preference is for the view to the east, if only because of the slightly wider view as the burn downstream and the road diverge.  You also queried whether the sequence actually works better without the soundtrack, although the choice of music seems to work well, which led into a wider discussion about the combining of images and sound generally.  I remain slightly equivocal about the use of the music:  it was certainly a useful exercise to find something suitable and to engage with the composer directly to obtain permission for its use; I can though also see that the flow of images alone has merits.  I drew a, slightly paradoxical, comparison with the music of Morton Feldman which unfolds over lengthy stretches of time with apparently little change from moment to moment, interrupted from time to time by more noticeable changes (Rothko Chapel and String Quartet II in particular) which is what the sequence of photographs does.  In both cases the nature and extent of the changes and development is only apparent from the overall arch of the work.  I can also see there is a danger of the soundtrack dominating or imposing a particular significance on the images, although I do not feel that is a problem here.

In passing, in connection with the use of sound, we touched on the technical difficulties involved with matching the different media, and the awkwardness of Lightroom as a tool.

We nevertheless agreed that sound and image can successfully be combined.  As an example of this I pointed to the recent work of Japanese photographer Masao Yamamoto whose book Sasanami is paired with music by Akira Uchida:  the different media are presented so that the book can be viewed separately from the music or in combination with it, leaving it to the viewer/listener to make their own variable combinations of experience.


Work throughout this module has clearly been affected and to an extent limited by Covid.  Paradoxically though the limitations have actually proved to be quite liberating and have opened up a more developed and richer view of what can be achieved with landscape photography, and what is worthy of being photographed, focusing more on a limited locality and paying closer attention to what is there to be seen, no matter how apparently, objectively insignificant.  This more mindful and attentive approach has coincided with and been nourished by a deepening of my Buddhist practice, which has turned out to have a significant impact on how I have approached this work.

Here we also touched on the influence of, in particular, the work of Rinko Kawauchi and her approach of taking apparently random and unconnected photographs of mundane, every-day, easily overlooked things but then through judicious editing and juxtaposition finding new themes, correspondences and meanings, something that I want to explore further.  (Off at something of a tangent, we also touched on the appeal and influence of other “anti-aesthetic” Japanese photographers, such as the Provoke group and Masahisa Fukase’s Ravens, whose work I have not sought to emulate, largely simply because from a purely technical point of view I am not sure how they achieved their effects.)

These limitations have also meant that I have very much made the exercises and assignments my own, developing my own interpretations of and approaches to them – developing my own voice – and immersing myself in the medium more than might otherwise have been the case


(RM: Research is your strong point; a high level of enquiry which informs your practice and reflects your deep literacy of the medium.)

Learning Log

The log remains full and varied.  If anything, looking forward to assessment, my most difficult task is going to be in editing down the material that needs to be presented.

Pointers for the next assignment / assessment

Much of our discussion focused on how I should prepare for and present my work for assessment in March.  Considering a number of options, the most attractive seems to be to produce a sort of narrative, with links to relevant blog posts, exploring my experience of the course and how it has helped with the development of my voice, how the assignments have fed into each other.  We agreed that although I will focus on assignments 2, 3, and 5, plus the essay, the first assignment is still worth mentioning as it developed some ideas that fed into the later more substantial works. My learning from the technical aspects of using film, particularly in Assignment 5, is worthy of inclusion.   I should also add a note about my interactions with fellow students and the much greater importance to me of looking at and reacting to the work of other more established artists.  

So far as the next module is concerned, we briefly discussed my preference for Self and The Other: how this is another  that at one level I do not necessarily really want to do but how it is important for me to take on something challenging (it will no doubt be affected by continuing limitations as a result of Covid) so that, hopefully, I will get more benefit from it, as I have with landscape, which I was not initially that keen to do but nevertheless chose in order to take me out of my comfort zone.”

Turn off the lights.

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?


As I wait for my tutor to come back to me on Assignment 6, I am metaphorically twiddling my photographic thumbs.  In doing so I came across an article on a website that is new to me, run by Jason Kottke, on which he posted an interesting piece about one of Roger Fenton’s best known photographs from the Crimean war, of the Valley of the Shadow of Death.  This is something that I looked at in particular during C&N while considering the idea of Late Photography.  What I did not consider then, but that Kottke’s piece addresses now, is the question of which of the two versions of the scene was made first, and whether either was “staged”.  What is interesting about these images – as purely landscape photographs they do not show very much at all – is what they say about “truth” in photography, the inherent unreliability of the photograph itself, but how they are sometimes nevertheless interpreted by critics and writers, or indeed simple viewers, without there necessarily being any evidence to support the conclusions reached about them.  These are all issues that I keep coming back to and have looked at in one way or another in every module of this degree so far.  They are issues that do not simply go away, indeed in my opinion should never be allowed to go away, and remain fundamental to how we should approach, view, and interpret any photograph, whether made by someone else or our own, after the event and as we make it.

A point I have made repeatedly is that photographs are in and of themselves not reliable, that they do not illustrate a “truth”, in the absence of context and corroborative evidence.  As Kottke shows in his article, and as explored in more depth by Errol Morris, the subject of this piece, in his NY Times articles from 2007, conclusions have been drawn about these two photographs that are simply not reliably backed up by objective evidence.  (Although I have an account with the NY Times I have unfortunately so far only been able to read two of Morris’s three articles; I simply cannot get the third to load.   That does not for now really affect the points I want to make and the short video embedded in Kottke’s piece tells the tale anyway.  Because of the difficulties with the NY Times site, and as you might not have an account with them, without which it is difficult to read anything at all, I have not included below links to the original articles.)

There are two questions:  one is which image was made first: the other is whether either was staged, the cannonballs having been moved to create a more dramatic image.  Of these I think the first is less important although it is an interesting detective story in its own right and does contain a significant issue about the importance of correctly interpreting the intrinsic evidence contained within the photograph itself.  It turns out, after a close but slightly erratic forensic investigation of the photographs themselves and the actual location where they were taken, that it is likely that the so called “on” photo, the one with cannonballs on the road, was taken second, as suggested by the movement of a number of small rocks down-hill compared with the “off” photo.  What this does not tell us is whether this second image was staged in any way.  This is where the issue of context and corroborative evidence becomes important.  At least since Ulrich Keller published his book on the photography of the Crimean War (which I have not read), it has been assumed, at least asserted, that the “on” picture came second (possibly correctly although without a proper assessment of the evidence).  Keller though went on to maintain that it had been staged by Fenton and that cannonballs were deliberately moved to create a new composition.  These were views repeated, without any evident critical consideration by Sontag in her later book (which I still think is better than the earlier, more famous – notorious? – one though still marred by this sort of dogmatism) and have since then become received wisdom.  And this is where my complaint lies, that the assertion, the assumptions made about Fenton’s intentions and actions are not supported by any objective evidence.  They are mere assertions, indeed little more than fabrications.  Unless of course Keller and Sontag were, for example, historical mind-readers.  As Morris demonstrates, there is no objective evidence one way or another to cast any light on what Fenton might have intended or what he might have done or directed.  

For what it is worth (which in reality is not much) my best guess, and it is only a guess, is that as Morris suggests this second image was not staged but was taken by Fenton after soldiers had moved some of the shot onto the road in the process of recovering some to be reused against the Russians who fired them originally.  Would it not make more sense for Fenton to have simply realised once this exercise was underway that by chance the view of the road with the cannonballs on it was more dramatic than that without.  If this was the effect he was after would it not have made more sense for him and his assistant, or under his supervision the soldiers who were evidently nearby, to move the shot from the outset before the first photograph was taken?  We can probably never know for sure but this at least strikes me as being plausible.

A couple more things lead me to this admittedly speculative conclusion.  One is to question how likely it was that there were soldiers about at the time with nothing better to do than move stuff around for Fenton so that he could make pictures while they were, it is worth remembering, under fire from the Russian positions?  Another stems from my own limited experience of large format film photography.  Fenton and his assistant took an hour and a half to make two photographs.  I assume (but have not checked) that they were using a wet plate technology.  This is not something that I have used myself but understand it is tricky and time consuming.  Even using modern sheet film I know from my own experience that it can easily take half an hour or so to take just one exposure of a subject (and I seem to recall from her exhibition at the Side Gallery that this this was also the experience of Alys Thomlinson while shooting her Ex Voto project).  So would Fenton have had the time even to direct his assistant or some soldiers to start moving things around?  I do not know but my gut tells me that it does not sound convincing in the circumstances.

The main point, the most important point, is that there is no objective evidence to support the assertion that the scene was staged.  This does not necessarily mean that the scene was not staged, just that we have no reliable evidence that it was.

The photographs simply show what was in front of Fenton when he took them.  They do not in themselves tell us anything about how, where, or when, they were made.  Anything else is little more than speculation and over-interpretation.

Sontag, S, (2004).  Regarding the Pain of Others.  London:  Penguin

The other reading list

Following my post about my bibliography for the current course I have had another look across my shelves and made the following list of the other books I have looked at this year (most were only published this year) but have not otherwise had a direct impact on my work.  There are others but these are the ones that stand out.  What they all have in common is that they investigate, at one level or another, peoples’ relationship with particular places, peoples’ impact on those places, and those places’ impact on the people.  As such the range of styles and approaches is quite wide.   Some is street photography, but with more of a focus on people in their environment rather than just capturing chance happenings and encounters on the street.  Some is social documentary, but firmly rooted in specific places and physical environments.  Some concentrates on the landscape and the presence of people, and their relationship with the landscape, is more implicit.  Some is more intimate, personal rather than public, and poetic.  Some of the artists are already familiar to me, old favourites, others new.  Not surprisingly there is a significant showing of Japanese photographers.

I also find that I have gone back from time to time to reread essays and stories by John Berger, too numerous to try to list now, that deal with peoples’ relationships with places.  A writer always worth revisiting.

Becher, B, & H, (2020).  Basic Forms.  Munich:  Prestel

Chikura, Y, (2020).  Zaido.  Göttingen:  Steidl

Eskenazi, J, (2019).  Black Garden.  Brooklyn:  Red Hook Editions

Eskenazi, J, (2019).  Departure Lounge.  Brooklyn:  Red Hook Editions

Eskenazi, J, (2020).  Wonderland.  Brooklyn:  Red Hook Editions

Guidi, G, (2011).  Carlo Scarpa’s Tomba Brion.  Ostfildern:  Hatje Kantz

Harman, A, (2020).  Garden Stories – Field Notes 012.  Jamestown:  another | place

Horton, J, (2020).  An Oxbow Lake – Field Notes 011.  Jamestown:  another | place

Kitajima, K, (2019).  European Diary 1983. 1984.  Los Angeles:  Little Big Man

Meeks, R, (2020).  ciprian honey hotel.  London:  MACK

Murakami, M, (2020).  Subway Diary.  Tokyo:  Roshin Books

Murtha, T, (2020).  Juvenile Jazz Bands.  Liverpool:  Bluecoat Press

Ohashi, E, (2020).  Roadside Lights Seasons: Winter.  Tokyo:  Case Publishing

Suda, I, (2020).  78.  Paris:  Chose Commune

Suda, I, (2020).  Tokyo Modern Pictorial.  Tokyo:  Zen Foto Gallery

Walsh, P, (2020).  Far From The Centre of Things – Field Notes 010.  Jamestown:  another | place


Now that this particular module is nearly at an end – I just have to speak to my tutor about Assignment 6 and then prepare for assessment – this is probably as good a time as any to post a bibliography of all the books and other materials that I have consulted and used while working on this unit, though it might need a bit of updating before I actually finish.

A couple of things strike me.  One is how heavily “front-loaded” the course is, with much of the reading list coming in at the early stages.  As the course has progressed there has been noticeably less by way of references to consult and follow up and material to read.  Another point is that on the recommended reading list are relatively few books that I would regard as really essential.  There is quite a lot of material that is only touched on lightly or tangentially that one could probably have got away with (if I can put it this way) not reading at all.  Indeed, a couple of books strike me as not really worth the effort, and one a complete waste of paper and ink, not mention my time and money (I will refrain from naming the guilty parties!).  That said, a couple of titles that I would not regard as being essential were in fact simply a pleasure to read in their own right.

Otherwise, as I have done with previous course units, much of what I have looked at has been at my own initiative, “reading around the subject”, a practice drummed (if not actually beaten) into me back in the days when I was at school and then an undergraduate, keeping my eyes open for anything that is interesting, and ideally relevant to the work I have been doing.

The other notable point is just how many other photography books I have looked and over the last year or so that have not made it into the bibliography.  Notwithstanding that many of them have dealt, more or less straightforwardly, with issues of landscape and peoples’ relationships with their environment, not all have had any direct relevance to or impact upon the work that I have been doing.  To that extent I have decided not to include them in the list that follows.  Perhaps though I should make a separate list, even if only a partial one, of these other books to record the fact that I have looked at them.  I do feel that even if not of direct significance to this academic work it is important to keep a broad and open outlook and, simply put, to look at as much other work as possible.  This will inevitably inform the work that I do, even if only at an unconscious level and at some unforeseeable time in the future.  Looking at the work of others is one of the best ways that I know of learning more about the art and craft of photography, that cannot otherwise successfully be transmitted and absorbed simply by sticking to a fairly narrow prescribed reading list.  It is also simply fun (if expensive!) just to get out there and see what wonderful work is being published, not to mention to support contemporary artists and often small, independent, publishers. 


Adams, A, (1983).  Examples: The Making of 40 Photographs.  Boston:  Little, Brown & Co

Adams, R, (1996).  Beauty in Photography.  New York:  Aperture

Alexander, J.A.P, (2015).  Perspectives on Place.  London:  Bloomsbury

Alighieri, D, (Milano, P, ed) (1977).  The Portable Dante.  London:  Penguin

Andrews, M, (1999).  Landscape and Western Art.  Oxford:  Oxford University Press

Axelsson,R, (2019).  Faces of the North.  Reykjavik:  Qerndu

Baas, J, & Jacob, M.J. (ends) (2004).  Buddha Mind in Contemporary Art.  Berkeley:  University of California Press

Barachini, V, (2019).  Cuore Velato.  Livorno:  ORIGINI edizione

Barthes, R,  (2000).  Camera Lucida.  London: Vintage

Barthes, R, (1977).  Image Music Text.  London:  Fontana Press

Barthes, R, (1972).  Mythologies.  London:  Jonathan Cape

Bate, D, (2009).  Photography, The Key Concepts.  Oxford: Berg

Bate, D, (2010).  The Memory of Photography, Photographies, 3:2, 243-257

Bates, E S, (ed), (1937).  The Bible:  Designed to be read as living literature, the old and the new testaments in the King James version.  New York:  Simon and Schuster

Beech, D, (ed), (2009). Beauty.  London:  Whitechapel Gallery

Benjamin, W, (2008).  The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.  London:  Penguin

Berger, J, (2016).  Landscapes:  John Berger on Art.  London:  Verso

Berger, J, (1972).  Ways of Seeing.  London:  Penguin

Brecht, B, (2017).  War Primer.  London:  Verso

Bloomberg, A, & Chanarin. O, (2011).  War Primer 2.  London:  MACK

Burke, E, (1998).  A Philosophical Enquiry.  Oxford:  Oxford University Press

Calvino, I, (1974).  Invisible Cities.  London:  Picador

Carroll, L, (ed. Gardner, M), (1966).  The Annotated Alice.  London:  Penguin

Catt, S, (2019).  Woodstock.  Frome: The Lost Light Recordings

Chaucer, G, (Coghill, N, trans), (1979).  The Canterbury Tales.  London:  Penguin

Childerley, Z, (2016) The Debatable Lands.  High Green: VARC

Clarke, G, (1997).  The Photograph.  Oxford:  Oxford University Press

Cotton, C, (2004).  Rinko Kawauchi Utatane.  Aperture No. 177

Coverley, M, (2018).  Psychogeography.  Harpenden:  Oldcastle Books

Cramerotti, A, (2010).  Uncapping the City:  Perspectives of Flatness.  Bristol:  Intellect

Cremona, E, (2019). Postcards from the past. London: Guest Editions

Daniels, M, (2019).  Elf Dalia.  London:  MACK

Davies, J, (2019).  Retraced 81/19.  London:  GOST

Dickson, M, (2020).  Oscar Marzaroli.  Glasgow:  Street Level Photoworks

Dyer, G, (2012).  The Ongoing Moment.  Edinburgh:  Canongate

Dyer, G, (2013).  Zona.  Edinburgh:  Canongate

Ehrlich, G, (2013).  Facing the Wave: A Journey in the Wake of the Tsunami.  New York:  Pantheon 

Epstein, M, (2011).  American Power.  Göttingen: Steidl

Eskilden, U, (ed).  (2008)  Street & Studio.  London:  Tate Publishing

Farley, P & Symmons Roberts, M, (2012).  Edgelands.  London:  Vintage

Favrod, D, (2015).  Hikari.  Berlin:  Kehrer Verlag Heidelberg

Fiedler, J, (2018).  Moholy Album.   Göttingen:  Steidl

Frank, R (2016).  The Americans.  Göttingen: Steidl

Franklin, S, (2016).  The Documentary Impulse.  London:  Phaidon

Freeman, J, (ed), (2009).  Granta Issue 107.  London:  Granta Publications

Gamwell, L, (2002).  Exploring the Invisible:  Art, Science, and the Spiritual.   Princeton:  Princeton University Press

Genitempo, M.  (2018).  Jasper.  Santa Fe:  Twin Palms Publishers

George, A, (trans.), (1999).  The Epic of Gilgamesh.  London:  Allan Lane

Gilbert-Rolfe, J, (1999).  Beauty and the Contemporary Sublime.  New York:  Allworth Press

Gilpin, W, (1789).  Observations on the River Wye, and Several Parts of South Wales.  London:  Blamire  (Gale ECCO facsimile reprint)

Godfrey, M, & Serota, N, (2011).  Gerhard Richter: Panorama.  London: Tate

Goldsworthy, A, (1994).  Stone.  London:  Viking

Goodwin, A, (1999).  Writing an Artist’s Statement.  Ceramics Monthly, May 1999, Vol. 45, Issue 5.

Guidi, G, (2019).  In Sardegna: 1974, 2011.  London:  MACK

Guidi, G, (2019).  In Veneto, 1984-89.  London:  MACK

Guidi, G, (2020).  Lunario.  London:  MACK

Guidi, G, (2018).  Per Strada.  London:  MACK

Hedgecoe, J, (1976).  The Book of Photography.  London:  Ebury Press

Heinisch, D, (2020).  45.  London:  MACK

Hirsch, M. (2012)  Family Frames: Photography, Narrative and Postmemory.  Cambridge: Harvard University Press

Homer (Pope, A, trans) (1942).  The Odyssey.  New York:  Heritage Press

Hughes, R, (1997).  American Visions.  London:  The Harvill Press

Ingledew, J, (2005).  Photography.  London:  Lawrence King Publishing

Jamie, K, (2019).  Surfacing.  London:  Sort of Books

Kawauchi, R, (2016).  The river embraced me.  Tokyo:  torch press

Kikuta, M, & Kodera, N, (2008).  European Eyes on Japan – Japan Today vol. 10.  Tokyo:  EU-Japan Fest Japan Committee

Kimura, H, (2019).  Snowflakes Dog Man.  Italy:  ceiba editions

Klein, W, (2016).  Life is Good & Good for You in New York.  New York:  Errata Editions

Lichtenstein, R, & Sinclair, I, (1999).  Rodinksy’s Room.  London:  Granta

Lincoln, A, Cooper, J, & Laurens Loovers, J P, (2020). Arctic: Culture and Climate. London: British Museum / Thames & Hudson

Lixenberg, D, (2008).  The Last Days of Shishmaref.  Edam/Rotterdam:  Paradox/episode

Lloyd Parry, R, (2017).  Ghosts of the Tsunami.  London:  Jonathan Cape

Long, R, (2007).  Walking and Marking.  Edinburgh:  National Galleries of Scotland

Luskačová, M, (2019).  By the Sea.  Bristol:  RRB Photobooks

Lyles, A, & Hamlin, R, (1997).  British Watercolours from the Oppé Collection.  London:  Tate Gallery Publishing

Macfarlane, R, (2003).  Mountains of the Mind.  London:  Granta

Macfarlane, R, (2019).  Underland.  London:  Hamish Hamilton

Mahler, U, & Mahler, W, (2018).  Kleinstadt.  Stuttgart:  Hartmann Books

Manaugh, G, (2009).  The BLDG/BLOG Book.  San Francisco:  Chronicle Books

Marshall, J, (2020).  Halls & Oats.  Lyme Regis:  West Country Modern

McCarthy, C, (2007).  The Road.  London:  Picador

Meyerowitz, J, (2018).  Where I find myself.  London:  Lawrence King Publishing.

Mitchell, W.J.T, (ed) (2002).  Landscape and Power.  Chicago: The University of Chicago Press

Mod, C & Rubin, D, (2016).  Koya Bound: Eight days on the Kumano Kodo.  Tokyo: self published

Moholy-Nagy, L, (1925).  Malerei, Photographie, Film. Munich: Albert Langen

Molitor, C, (2015).  Sonorama.  Listening to the view from the train.  Axminster:  Uniformbooks

Moriyama, D, (2017).  Daido Moriyama: Record.  London:  Thames & Hudson

Moriyama, D, (2016).  Daido Tokyo.  Paris:  FondationCartier pour l’art contemporain

Morley, S, (ed), (2010).  The Sublime.  London:  Whitechapel Gallery

Murakoshi, T, (2018).  An Eventual Saturation.  Tokyo:  Case Publishing

Murtha, T, (2018). Elswick Kids.  Liverpool:  Bluecoat Press

Murtha, T, (2017).  Youth Unemployment.  Liverpool:  Bluecoat Press

Myrone, M, & Concannon, A, (2019).  William Blake.  London:  Tate Publishing

Nakahira, T, Okada, T, Takahashi, Y, Taki, K, (1968). Provoke No. 1. Tokyo: Nitesha

Nash, D, (2007).  David Nash.  London:  Thames & Hudson

Obara, K, (2018).  Exposure / Everlasting.  Cordoba:  Editorial RM / RM Verlag

O’Doherty, B, (1999) Inside the white cube: the ideology of the gallery space. Berkeley: University of California Press

Ogawa, Y, (2014). Shimagatari. Tokyo: Sokyu-Sha

Ohashi, E, (2017).  Being There.  Tokyo:  Case Publishing

Ohashi, E, (2017).  Roadside Lights.  Tokyo:  Zen Foto Gallery

Oliver, N, (2018).  The Story of the British Isles in 100 Places.  London:  Penguin

Onaka, K, (2019). Faraway Boat. Tokyo: Kaido Books

Onaka, K, (2013). twin boat. New York: Session Press

Paris, L, Fleming-Williams, I, & Shields, C, (1976).  Constable Paintings, Watercolours & Drawings.  London:  Tate Gallery Publishing

Parr, M, (2013).  The Non-Conformists.  New York:  Aperture

Pavord, A, (2016).  Landskipping – Painters, Ploughmen, and Places.  London:  Bloomsbury

Perez, N.N, (2013).  Displaced visions.  Jerusalem:  The Israel Museum

Price, U, (1796).  An Essay on the Picturesque.  London:  Robson

Prodger, P (ed) (2016). William Eggleston Portraits. London:National Portrait Gallery

Rajnai, M, et al., (1982).  John Sell Cotman.  London:  Arts Council of Great Britain

Richardson, A, & Skelton, R, (2013).  Relics.  Newcastleton:  Corbel Stone Press

Risch, C, (2017).  Conquering the dreaded artist statement:  expert advice for writing about your photography.  Photo District News, Vol. 37, Issue 8.

Sandweiss, M, (2002).  Print the Legend: Photography and the American West.  New Haven:  Yale University Press

Self, W, (2007).  Psychogeography.  London:  Bloomsbury

Schama, S, (1996).  Landscape & Memory.  London:  Fontana Press

Schmidt, M, (2019).  Berlin-Wedding.  London:  Koenig Books

Scott, F, (2020).  Undertow. Jamestown:  another | place

Shanes, E, (1979).  Turner’s Picturesque Views in England and Wales 1825-1838.  London:  Chatto & Windus

Shibata, T, (2020). Gas Stations. Manchester: Nazraeli Press

Shore. R, (2014).  Post-Photography:  The Artist with a Camera.  London:  Lawrence King

Shore, S, (2014).  Uncommon Places.  London:  Thames & Hudson

Sinclair, I, (2015).  Black Apples of Gower.  Taller Fratrum:  Little Toller Books

Solnit, R, 2002).  Wanderlust: A History of Walking.  London:  Verso

Solnit R, (2006).  A Field Guide to Getting Lost.  Edinburgh:  Cannongate

Sontag, S, (1979).  On Photography.  London:  Penguin

Sontag, S, (2004).  Regarding the Pain of Others.  London:  Penguin

Soth, A, (2017).  Sleeping by the Mississippi.  London:  MACK

Stenger, S, (2015).  Sound Strata of Coastal Northumberland.  Newcastle:  AV Festival

Sugimoto, H, (2019).  Seascapes.  Bologna:  Damiani Editore

Tomlinson, A, (2019).  Ex-Voto.  London:  GOST Books

Vasilyeva, E, (2019).  Road to Petergof.  St. Petersburg:  Self-published

Warner Marien, M, (2014) (4th ed.).  Photography: A Cultural History.  London:  Laurence King Publishing

Wells. L, (2011)  Land Matters:  Landscape Photography, Culture and Identity.  London:  IB Tauris

Winship, V, (2018).  And Time Folds.  London:  MACK

Wilton, A, & Lyles, A, (1993).  The Great Age of British Watercolours 1750-1880.  London:  Royal Academy of Arts & Munich:  Prestel Verlag

Wolf, S, (ed), (2019).  PhotoWork:  Forty Photographers on Process and Practice.  New York:  Aperture

Wylie, D, (2004).  The Maze.  London:  Granta


Walking the land

The Maze


Grounded – 2000


Click to access 1913_issue2.pdf

The Writing on the Wall


Almost Sunrise

Specific Internet Articles

Almost the Same Thing: Some Thoughts on the Photographer as Collector

Click to access Bright-Marlboro.pdf

Click to access Krauss.pdf

Click to access


British Journal of Photography, Issue 7883, May 2019

British Journal of Photography, Issue 7887, September 2019

British Journal of Photography, Issue 7889, November 2019

Hotshoe Issue 204  2019 Vol.II NYC Street ’57-86

Printmaking Today.  Summer 2020.  Vol.29, Issue 114


Collins, M, (2016).  Almost Sunrise.

Tarkovsky, A, (1979).  Stalker.

Landscape Photography books – another | place

This is neither an ad nor a puff but a brief note on a small, independent publisher, based near Inverness, that I have come across relatively recently, that fits very well with the way I have come to think of landscape photography.

My first encounter with this press was through a book by Frances Scott, titled Undertow, photographs taken around her home in Orkney.  I was attracted partly by the connection with Orkney – my wife had a friend who used to live on Shapinsay, whom we visited some few years ago, and provided a stepping off point to visit a number (but by no means all) of the islands over a couple of trips.  (We had planned to visit Papa Westray a couple of years ago, but were prevented by bad weather – we were due to land by Gemini from a larger boat but the approach was more than a mile and at the time the weather conditions made it unsafe.)  More importantly, it deals with the connections between people, landscape, and the act of photography.  

One of the striking elements of her book is the combination of photographs with maps of the walks that she undertook while taking the photographs.  Whilst not in itself a direct, conscious, influence, this echoes with the work that I did for Assignment 2.  It also resonates with the work of Zoe Childerley (The Debatable Lands) that has had a much more direct impact, as I have discussed in previous posts, not least on the book that I made for that assignment.  I am, by the way, delighted to see that Zoe’s book, Dinosaur Dust – shot in Joshua Tree National Park in California, somewhere I have been a number of times and love for its otherworldliness – is at last making it into print courtesy of another | place.  A copy is naturally on order!

The series of Field Notes is of particular interest and relevance to my own recent practice, focusing as it does, on the relationship between people and place, not least because of their affordability – but beware the short print runs, blink and you might miss them!

While much of publishing is beset with difficulties, notwithstanding – or perhaps because of? – the huge number of new titles that continue to appear, it is encouraging to see that there are smaller imprints out there producing work of the highest quality and evidently thriving (as much as anyone can in the current climate).

Childerley, Z, (2016) The Debatable Lands.  High Green: VARC

Scott, F, (2020).  Undertow. Jamestown:  another | place

The Story of the British Isles in 100 Places – Book

This is not a book of, or about, photography.  Rather, it is a portrait of an island archipelago, its history and culture, focused through the prism of one hundred physical, geographic, places, current and historical,  (including a few specific artefacts).  Nevertheless, it is clearly a work that is significant to me and my thinking about landscape as explored throughout this course and the medium of photography.

This is a book that I picked up at the Hexham Book Festival in April 2019 (only eighteen months ago but already a world away) after listening to a very engaging and entertaining talk by the author, Neil Oliver, who will be familiar to anyone who ever watches some of the better offerings on BBC 4 about archaeology, history, and topography.  As with many books that really interest me it took a while to work to the top of the waiting to be read pile and it was only last night that I finished it.  It was only last night that it struck me how relevant this book is to, and how much it resonates with, my ideas about landscape photography as they have developed over the course of this module.  It has been about three months that I have spent on this book, while reading other things in the interim as well, roughly a chapter an evening, so its import has had a little time to be felt and absorbed.  Which is perhaps why it has taken a while to come to the forefront of my consciousness, and for me to offer a note about it only now.

What has interested me throughout this course, and what I have endeavoured to explore, is the two-way traffic of how the environment is affected by the people who live within it and how they in their turn are affected by that environment.  The story that Neil Oliver tells, stretching back over nearly a million years to the earliest recorded hominids in this part of the world, exemplifies for me both aspects of this equation, but in particular how the specificities and peculiarities of the landscapes of these islands have played parts in shaping and determining who “we”, the British, are now.

Obviously, as I had already done much of the work for this module before I even picked up this book and settled down with it seriously, it has not consciously affected any of the work that I have made.  It nevertheless remains, if only in retrospect, important to me and that work (not to mention the benighted island archipelago upon which I live).  If nothing else it helps to offer some validation, albeit ex post facto, to what I have already done and the thinking behind my efforts.

Beyond that (and this is not a review!) it is well worth reading and thoroughly enjoyable in its own right.

Oliver, N, (2018).  The Story of the British Isles in 100 Places.  London:  Penguin

Chris Killip

I was saddened to read last week of the passing of the social documentary photographer Chris Killip.  I am not going to write an obituary.  I am more than happy to leave that to Sean O’Hagan of The Guardian who has covered it in the two pieces linked below.  Rather I have a personal observation or two from the point of view of the work I have been doing on this course.

I think the first picture of his that I ever saw was Youth on a Wall, Jarrow, Tyneside, 1976:

This was probably around the time that In Flagrante was originally published in 1988, just a couple of years after I moved to the North East.  At the time the significance of this work was lost on me and it has taken a while since then for his work really to grow on me.  For a while I felt it was a bit too much “it’s grim up North” but I have since been helped along by the work of others in the region ploughing a similar furrow:  AmberSide collective (which of course Killip helped to establish), Tish Murtha, Markéta Luskačova, to name but a few.  I now see the work he did in this region in a different light, and this is the point that is relevant to this course.

I am not going to explore the question any further here for now but I feel there is an argument to be made that Killip fits into that category of photographers that I considered in the essay for Assignment 4, who are able to convey a sense of the local landscape by focusing on the local people.  There is certainly a strong sense of portrayal of the social landscape, but taken broadly I do feel that some of the work he did here does paint a picture of the physical landscape, without necessarily addressing it directly.

There is also the “outsider” element.  He came from the Isle of Man and lived and worked in the region for only about 15 years, not enough for many locals to regard someone as anything but an outsider (and usually a southerner at that; even after more than 36 years up here in the eyes of some I am still an incomer) and I think this possibly colours the work that he did and the way I now view his work. 

Sadly, in the current climate of the Covid pandemic and the growing inequality between North and South, some aspects of life in the region have not changed fundamentally for some sections of society, and there is still a need, indeed a pressing urgency, for work such as that Killip made.

Assignment 6 – Finished!

I have at last finalised Assignment 6, producing two slideshow sequences, one viewing the ford from the east, the other from the west.  I have decided to keep both sets not least because of the different ways the light has changed between them over the year.  When it came to editing, I decided that I would use nearly all of the photos that I took over the year – each time I went out I took multiple shots of each view.  The ones that have fallen by the wayside are a few that I found on review to be out of focus.  What I think has happened with these is not that they were not focused properly (though that cannot be ruled out given that the camera I used throughout, my digital Leica, can only be focused manually) but that the aperture changed.  Throughout I shot at f/16 to get a reasonable depth of field (the maximum available on the particular lens I have been using) but for a few I suspect I inadvertently used a larger aperture as the shots in question seem to be in focus for objects close to the camera but not for those more than a couple of metres away.  There were also a couple taken early on for which I set up the camera in the wrong position.  I had not then got into a proper routine of making sure I put the tripod in the same place every time.  As it is, the first couple of shots for the view to the west are in a different position, the opposite side of the road to that from which all the others were taken.  That position was more in the road and so vulnerable to passing cars, meaning that at the least I would have to move the camera out of the way each time someone drove past.  The other side of the road offered a bit more shelter and room to avoid being run over!  I have kept those shots because they themselves represent an element of transition, for the project itself as it developed as opposed to the environment within which I have been working.

Another similar element of transition is also present in the final work in so far as slight shifts in position of the camera are evident throughout.  Although I settled into putting the tripod into particular positions, using certain trees by the side of the road as markers, and always set the tripod itself to the same height (I have in fact barely used this particular tripod, a lightweight travel one, for anything else all year, using a more heavyweight one for the other assignments to accommodate the larger cameras I used on them – 4×5 for Assignment 5 and a medium format Hasselblad on Assignment 3) there are nevertheless shifts in camera position from shoot to shoot, and sometimes between individual shots.  Most of these I expected to be quite subtle but some are rather more noticeable.

The combination of lots of images and substantial soundtrack means that the resulting mp4 files are quite large exceeding the limit for my free (cheapskate!) account with Vimeo so I cannot post them there, even without the soundtrack.  As a result, I cannot include a link now.  For the purposes of submission to my tutor I am simply going to have to send the source files which can then be run using Quick-Time (or Windows Media Player, or whatever).  In a way this suits well given that I have agreed with the composer that the audio version will be accessible only by my tutor.

I have tried embedding a silent version of the slideshows into this blog post but without success. I fear the file sizes are still too large.

Returning to the question of quality that I touched on in my previous post, on reflection I am not sure I have much more to add.  The end results are, I have to confess, perhaps a bit too long running to almost 20 minutes each.  That said I am not sure that anything shorter would really do justice to the project, and the amount of time spent on it, nor give an adequate sense of the nature and extent of the changes that do occur here over the space of a year.  Being able to distil everything down to, for example, one emblematic image for each season would have worked but because there was so little real snow here last winter there is not really anything that would stand alone to represent winter.  As it is, blink and you could easily miss the few most wintery shots that I did manage to get when there was a mere sprinkling of snow for one day only below about 100 metres above sea-level.

Having played through the sequences a number of times now I remain happy with the choice of music, which anyone can listen too in full on the composer’s Bandcamp page (link below).

I think perhaps the most important thing that I take away from this project has been the discipline of concentrating on a specific location over a prolonged period of time and observing it closely, watching how it changes, registering the nuances of light, vegetation, water level, changes in weather, and so on.  This is not something that I would normally be aware of in such a focused way.  Certainly, I do notice seasonal, weather related, and other changes here on a regular basis because, if nothing else, I walk this way with my dog nearly every single day.  Taking a camera to a particular location on such a regular basis (at least once a week on average, and a few times on consecutive days to record more sudden changes in water level in the burn after periods of heavy rain) though introduces a much greater degree of concentration and awareness.  It gives a structure to, and produces a record of, those otherwise casual observations.  That alone, I feel, makes this project and the experience of it, valuable as a learning exercise.

Assignment 3 – Another Viewpoint

The other day I picked up a reference in an email from the French L’Oeil de la Photographie website to some work by a Chinese American artist that has some similarities to the work that I did for Assignment 3.  Journey Gong, of whom I had not heard before, has made a series of images titled Viewpoint that shows benches looking out onto panoramic views, mostly over the sea.  Whereas my sequence focused on the benches and juxtaposed them with the views visible from them, Gong’s work shows the benches as part of the view.  The views themselves are, as with my set, fairly nondescript; apart from distant hills and the line of the horizon, there is not much more to see.  While it is far from explicit, I guess that he was exploring issues similar to those that I was looking at in my work, judging from the last line of the brief accompanying text:  “This is where nothing happened, everything yet to take place”.

Looking at his website, I cannot say that his work moves me much at all.  This sequence though does appeal, even if only because of the visual and ‘theoretical’ background (if I have interpreted the work correctly) similarities to my own work.

Assignment 6 – What a long strange trip it’s been

“What a long strange trip it’s been”, as the Grateful Dead sang on “Trucking” on their “American Beauty” album.  (No, I am not a Deadhead and this is the only one of their albums that I have in my collection. It just struck me as apt for present purposes.)  To within just a couple of days I have been shooting this assignment for a full year so I think it is now time to stop.  The next step is to finalise the slideshows, which are already largely ready, but for now I have some initial observations on the whole process.

First, here are some of the pictures that I took today.  After months on end when no-one else was around while I was shooting, today everyone and their granny seemed to be out.  Yesterday it rained – boy, did it rain – all day, in quantities of Biblical proportions.  Today has been much more pleasant and I guess that has attracted people out again.  The fords can also be pretty spectacular after heavy rain and people go down there to take pictures.  Surprisingly, despite yesterday’s monsoon-like downpour the water in the ford was just under twelve inches (I have seen it before hit three feet, and that is certainly scary), nevertheless deep enough, and more to the point, fast flowing enough, to prompt a couple of cars to turn back.

What of the assignment itself?  Looking back over the past year I find it all a little bit strange.  This is quite a big project and one that had to be committed to very early on while working on this module.  There was no real scope for a change of mind, of direction, or subject matter along the way.  As the point at which work had to start on this assignment was so early it was a bit of a shot in the dark.  At the time it started I did not really know where I was going with anything to do with landscape photography.  There was still a lot of material to read, other photographs to be taken, and more importantly, thoughts about landscape photography and what it means to me to be developed.  When I started this sequence I did not fully understand my own thoughts about landscape photography.  The themes and ideas that I have explored subsequently had not really started to evolve and take on a more concrete, and coherent, form.  That did not really happen until I started to think about spaces/places and work on Assignment 3.  It is really only over time that a sense of theoretical underpinning and background for this last project has emerged and developed.  The ideas behind what I have been exploring and trying to do in relation to landscape photography have probably always been there, although they have taken time to solidify, and that is perhaps why after a year I feel this project does still fit within my overall thinking.  

Would I have done anything different if from the outset I was more conscious of what landscape means to me?  An impossible question of course, purely rhetorical, but I think probably not, if only because of the limited options that have been available.

Does it work?  Yes, I think so, though I am far from convinced it is the most interesting piece of work I have done.  Assignments 3 and 5 are more interesting in themselves and more directly illustrative of the ideas I have been trying to articulate.  This is perhaps another effect of having started this project so early on.  I will though for now postpone any further judgment or reflection upon it until I have finalised the slideshows, of which more anon.