Back from Wester Ross

Posted on February 11, 2013


I’ve just spent the last week up in Scotland getting reacquainted with the landscape. I was on a workshop with about 20 other photographers, most of whom concentrate on landscape work. Amongst them were the well known British photographers Joe Cornish and David Ward. Eddie Ephraums a book publisher was also one of the leaders. I had a few mini projects in mind which were a mixture of landscape and portrait work.

For the landscape I allowed a theme to develop. In the end I decided to avoid big vistas and concentrate on intimate landscapes illustrating form and shape. I looked for images which I could show in diptych’s with the pairs contrasting how landscape is formed  by both nature and by man. I worked in colour and black and white. These are the diptychs I settled on:

Form and Shape 1

Form and Shape 1

Form and Shape 2

Form and Shape 2

Form and Shape 3

Form and Shape 3

I have explained in an earlier post what my key goal was for the portraiture work. Essentially I wanted to produce a series of portraits set in the landscape with my 5×4 large format camera. I wanted to explore how the subject interacts with the landscape space. In other words I was aiming to investigate the question of when does the landscape becomes the setting rather than the subject for landscape images with human figures in them. Or indeed conversely when a portrait is no longer a portrait as the human figure becomes subjugated by the landscape within which it is enclosed.

I began the week well with my large format portraiture making five portraits on the first three days. It was very instructive. I learned that the key to making portraits with a view camera in the landscape is to pre-visualise the portrait fully before setting up. Moving the large camera around on a tripod is very unwieldy and time consuming. As with much large format work one is working with limited depth of field and slow shutter speeds. It is important to ask the subject to stay still. My biggest concern is that the portraits will suffer from inaccurate focussing and/or motion blur.

The process is much more elongated than with a smaller camera and requires patience from the sitter. This may well be reflected in their pose and expression. I will not be getting the film developed for a week or so and I will have to wait to assess the results.

Sadly after three days disaster struck. I pulled a muscle in my lower back and was advised not to carry heavy weights. I had to set aside my large format kit and work just with my DSLR. I thought that it would be interesting to work on a series of head shots of the Workshop participants. This would be good practice for making portraits and would also provide me with some conventional portraits to compare with the large format images. These are the best of the portraits I made…I was pretty rushed towards the end trying to complete the full set of 25 portraits, so for the ones towards the end I spent less time with the subjects.

Portraits One

Portraits 1

Portraits Two

Portraits 2

Portraits Three

Portraits 3