Unimaginable Landscape

02-26-20 Oso Creek - Trabuco Cyn KI6A3648

When I discussed an imagined landscape earlier this week, one of the responses back from Ann Mitchell, who inspired the article, was the question; are not all landscape photographs imagined? My initial response was yes, I guess so based on what I wrote about pre-visualization. But that in turn made me think, what about a landscape photograph that was not pre-visualized and came as a surprise? A photograph image that you did not anticipate? An unimaginable landscape photograph?

What quickly came to mind are some of the alternative methods that have a lot of chance built in; you may have an idea of what might come out just because what you aimed the lens at. Infrared seems like one of those, as we humans do not see with an infrared vision. In reality the first infrared images were a complete surprise to the photographer, something that visually was not imaginable. I think now that most landscape photographers who use infrared methods pretty much anticipate (pre-visualize) the resulting images, realizing what is going to shift or change. Thus using infrared processes still creates imagined landscapes.

Likewise the photographers who use really long exposure times to make water appear like a solid, most notable the waterfall photographs that appear like cotton. Or those night photographs that had plenty of stars and the spiral patterns that resulted. Again, the first few of these long exposure landscape photographs were a surprise and unimagined image. Now these effects are planned for in the photographic methods used.

Last weekend I was hiking the local canyon and came across a small stream with the water moving rapid enough to create a small rock fountain. Surprise! This was not what I had pre-visualized, although what was included within the frame was anticipated (imagined).

Btw, all of the white reflections in the top image were not anticipated either, thus the entire photograph for me is an unimaginable landscape. Nevertheless, the next time I use this combination of shutter speed and lens aperture I will probably imagine some of these potential visual effects.


Featured photograph: Untitled (Trabuco Canyon) copyright 2020 Douglas Stockdale

Upcoming events:

Medium Photo 2020 Workshop: Developing a Creative Book workshop that I will be leading from March, 19-22, 2020, a four-day extended weekend workshop in San Diego (workshop registration is still open and some spots are still available)

Medium Photo 2020 Lecture Series, I will be giving a one-evening lecture Artist Books as Art Objects on March 20th, from 7:30 – 9pm at the You Belong Here artist venue, located at 3619 El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, California 92104.

Los Angeles Center of Photography (LACP) Faculty Exhibition, in Los Angeles at the new LACP gallery, located at 566 Washington Blvd. The exhibition opening and reception is Saturday, March 21, 2020, from 7-10pm. The exhibition runs until May 12.

02-26-20 Oso Creek - Trabuco Cyn KI6A3654v3 detail


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