Altered Landscape photographs

03-07-20 Oso Creek_0137 5DMk3

I have been writing a series of articles about landscape photography, which I think is equally applicable to nature or urban landscape locations. Most recently after I had been surprised by some photographic results, but then with that new knowledge, to then be able to pre-visualize and photograph similar locations and situations with intention.

Someone asked me about altered landscape photography, as a type of photographic landscape niche to explore. My short answer; every landscape photograph has been altered to one degree or another, some just much more than others.  Even for the most ardent purist, which I am certainly not, any post -adjustments to an image, is altering “reality”. I am guessing that some artists/photographers use the Altered adjective to help try and differentiate their artwork from others, but in reality it is to what degree do they alter the image.

I have heard some nature photographers insist that they do not change or alter anything within the landscape that they photograph, thus their work is a pure representation of nature. For me, that is more about being a documentary photographer than persuing a creative endeavor. I strive to interpret the natural and urban landscape as to the meaning and narrative I want to convey. I am not above removing somebody’s trash that was left and evident in the foreground, likewise a stray weed stem or a distracting rock.

Case in point, the landscape above started with the “found” subject, posted below. Only change to my documentary photo is a slight adjustment to the color balance, which in RAW was captured at 4860 and I changed that 5000. Otherwise, without any other post-processing changes. Boring.

First alternation I did was to splash and wet all the dry rocks, to allow all of the rocks to have a bit of a wet sheen. Since most rocks in a running creek are wet, this appears “normal”, but in fact it’s a manipulation of the landscape subject on my part. For the subsequent exposure, while in Bridge/RAW conversion, I increased the dark and light values, added a bit more color intensity, and a few other minor tweaks. When in Photoshop, I still needed to crop the image a bit tighter to eliminate some dry rocks (which had much lighter and distracting attributes), then added a curves adjustment layer to alter the tonality, looking to tease out and emphasize the white water turbulence. For me, this resulted in a more interesting photograph, and one that is definitely altered, even if on first blush it may appear realist and straight. An artistic illusion.

So if anyone asks you if your landscape photographs have been altered, then proudly say that these most certainly have been profoundly altered!

Cheers, Doug

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

My upcoming events, some that are in a state of flux:

Update! Medium Photo 2020 Workshop: Developing a Creative Book workshop that I will be leading, (tentatively) September 24 – 27th, 2020, a four-day extended weekend workshop in San Diego.

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

Revised closing reception is still okay as of this date…

Los Angeles Center of Photography (LACP) Faculty Exhibition, in Los Angeles at the new LACP gallery, located at 566 Washington Blvd. The exhibition opens March 21st and the closing reception is Saturday, April, 18, 2020, from 7-10pm.



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