6 Ocak 2009 Salı

Lanscape Photography by Sırma Munyar

William Henry Jackson

Jackson was probably one of the most fortunate landscape photographers of his time, since he was there when the undiscovered became unraveled; he was a member of The U.S. Geological Survey, led by Ferdinand Hayden, and this fact officially started his career as a well-known photographer.

"Hayden en Route" by William Henry Jackson

"Hayden en Route" is one of the greatest examples of Jackson's works and his motivations in art; this shot is not just a remaining moment from history but also an evident of Jackson's admiration to the very recently developed techniques of photography in his time. He does not only take advantage of the lake's function as a mirror, but he also places the symmetrical reciprocal lines of horses and men according to the Rule of Thirds, which makes them and this revolutionary moment stand out even more.
Traveling around the newly discovered American lands was vital for Jackson's art. Here is another example from one of his journeys:

"Castle Geyser and Crested Pool, Upper Geyser Basin", 1871, Yellowstone NP, by William Henry Jackson

This time, Jackson focuses a bit more on the bare, defenseless, plain and pure "land", rather than picturing human beings intruding to the lands of nature and make them their own. However, he still introduces "the unknown" to the people; in the end, a crested pool was not something that people of 1800s could observe in their everyday lives. Hence, without including any other distractions, Jackson directly photographs this plain crested pool; a true wonder of nature which is already enough by itself to capture the attention of the observer.

Even after his death, Jackson remained as one of the greatest photographers and explorers in history. He received credit especially for his landscape photographs from American West, which did not only represent his wide point of view but also the fragments of many historical incidents.

Timothy O'Sullivan

Like his contemporary Jackson, Timothy O'Sullivan was an explorer who integrated the incidents he witnessed in his art; mostly from American Civil War and Western America. However, in contrast with Jackson, O'Sullivan was not just dedicated to shooting young and fresh lands of the United States but also sanguinary evidents of war and the remaining corpses intermingling with the land itself, which made him even more distinctive and special than the other landscape photographers.

"The Harvest of Death", Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, 1863, by Timothy O'Sullivan

"The Harvest of Death" became O'Sullivan's signature without a doubt; even though his main motivation was to "tell the news", his dramatic eye definitely caused this image to be interpreted from a subjective point of view. O'Sullivan pictures this unique incident by focusing on the bodies lying right in front of the lens of his camera, which emphasizes the wretchedness of the soldiers, and leaving the others in the blurry background, underlining the fact that they (and many others like them) were deceased and forced to become parts of the land they fought for. The twisted surface line of the land in O'Sullivan's eye also suggests the idea that something has to be wrong with this picture; something clearly breaks all the morals and orders down.

"Slaves J.J. Smith's Plantation”, South Carolina, 1862, by Timothy O'Sullivan

“Slaves J.J. Smith’s Plantation” is another significant work by O’Sullivan with a great historical value; this picture represents the freshly liberated women, children and men, who worked as slaves for J.J. Smith’s cotton plantation in South Carolina for many years. With this shot, O’Sullivan did not just freeze this special moment but he also reflected amazement and confusion; this crowd apparently gathered for their departure to start their new, free lives, yet, they seem like they had no idea back then, how to handle such freedom since it was a new term in their lives.

Although Timothy O’Sullivan especially stood out with his historical photographs like the two examples above, he was also attracted to the untamed nature. In the pictures he presented the lands without any industrilization or inhabiting, he combined scientific, natural features of the Earth with his emotions toward them, which rendered the pictures to become artistically beautiful.

Carleton Watkins

Carleton Watkins, in spite of a beginning career on portraits, was a well-known landscape photographer who mostly worked in California. He was not just a photographer but he was also an experimentalist; he developed many techniques in landscape photography on his own. For instance, unlike many of his contemporaries, he chose to focus on “subjects” related to the lands he wished to picture. He was such an original artist that his works were copied and printed several times even without his permission.

“Mirror Lake”, from “Yosemite History; New Series”, California, by Carleton Watkins

“Mirror Lake” is a remarkable piece from Watkins’ series of Yosemite History, in which he focuses on the horizontal line of symmetry between the real image and the reflection of it. Apparently, Watkins was amazed by the fact that the lake became the photograph of the land above it; so, in a way, by shooting this picture, Watkins did not just photographed an image but he also reflected the image’s reflection harmoniously. By putting the line of symmetry right in the middle of the picture unlike William Henry Jackson did in “Hayden en Route”, he did not just capture the attention of the viewer but he also urged them to contemplate on the fact that there might me two reciprocal worlds, just like the one represented in this piece.

The Hudson River School

In 19th century, many artists became interested in landscape; some of them made paintings of it and some of them shot photographs of it. Yet, they usually had one common point; they were influenced by the movement of Romanticism. They did not just reflect the true and exact view they saw but they interpreted them in their own ways, according to their own sentiments, emotions. Many of these artists focused on one primary area: Hudson River Valley and the surrounding lands. Thus, their inspired, sensual, romantic depictions of the same area over and over again, resulted with a categorization: The Hudson River School.
Here are some exemplary works by famous photographers of The Hudson River School:

“The Oxbow (The Connecticut River Near Northampton)”, 1836, by Thomas Cole

“Landscape with Rainbow” by Robert Scott Duncanson


In the late 19th century and 20th century, some photographers were influenced by the movement of expressionism, as well as the impressionistic style, which conquered almost every painting of its time. With these affections, main functions of photography like documenting the history, reflecting the exact image and freezing the moment faded out and were replaced by the ideal romanticism; photographers tended more and more to act like painters. In order to achieve this “pictorial” effect on their photographs, many of them used unusual techniques like “soft focus”, some special filters and manipulated their images as much as they could in the dark room. This distinct movement handed its place over to modernism, when a new fashion of art was needed.
Here are some examples from Pictorialistic Era:

“Venise du Nord (Bruge, Belgium)” by Alfred Fauvarque-Omez

“Water Lilly Pads” by Jaroslav Krupka

“Versailles” by Laura Albin- Guillot

Explorers for Art

The indispensable material for landscape photographers of 19th century was exploration; either they wished to reflect the natural Earth as it was or with human impact on it. Although the main targets of exploration for the people and especially traders was to gain more land and more money, the artists were amazed by the fact that the world had so many places yet to be intruded. Thus, beginning with Age of Discovery, the artists, especially the painters and photographers wandered around to get more and more material to picture. William Henry Jackson, Timothy O’Sullivan and Carleton Watkins were the most outstanding photographers of this influence.

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