About one of my favourite photographs....

Here is a recent article extract I wrote for On Landscape magazine about one of my favourite photographs....enjoy

 

Gateway to the Moors II by Joe Cornish

 

When asked to choose my End Frame, Gateway to the Moors II rose to the forefront of my mind. Even though the exposure of great landscape pictures on social media and in the recent surge of photography books can be almost overwhelming to digest on a daily basis, I can still somehow remember the moment of engaging with this one in a quiet yet glowing contentment a few years ago. I don't really remember when and where precisely just the conscious engagement.

The reasoning for my selection brought to my attention of how we see and process all this visual stimulation before us. I don't often translate visual processes and emotions into words but it's certainly a practice I like to spend more time on. I remember Charlie Waite quoting once, the mind and eye are a great double act and perform a rapid scanning process before concluding, yes I quite like that.

We take in ingredients such as composition, light, tones, mood, depth, hue, juxtaposition, balance etc. But is there anything else in the process that makes a picture so engaging, what about the other end, the viewer. Each viewer has their own individual way of processing visual input with background influences from experiences, memories and the people around us. Together the picture and the viewer are like a silent visual conversation.

 

 Copyright Joe Cornish, used with kind permission from On Landscape 

 

The key focal point in Joe’s Gateway to the Moors II here is the reassuring golden finger post pointing ‘that way’ as many walkers would often boldly say along the footpath. Joe has thoughtfully and precisely positioned the sign so the highlights are against dark shadow background and vise-versa, the shadow part is against highlighted grasses providing a masterful contrasting effect. And this focal point must be the key to resurfacing in my mind as the ‘chosen one’. I feel most content when outdoors in nature and along the footpath, as a child a major part of my growing up was walking in the British countryside, my senses engaged with this environment and soaking up the outdoor experience along miles and miles of endless footpaths, it's my heritage. And now as I mature as an artist, walking helps to aid my creative mentality, it goes conveniently hand in hand.

I could just walk into this inviting picture as the sun bathes the land on a beautiful summers evening, the least favourite season for perhaps most landscape photographers, but as you may guess, I love summertime, for me it means more time to engage with nature, a calling perhaps with the generous daylight hours.

The footpath sign is by an old wooden gate in line with the footpath with a friendly jar open, providing further effective shadows and maybe left open by the farmer (I like to think) who said his farewells to the operations here as the fence is absent. And now as time has gone by, nature is showing some hopeful signs of healing and reclamation of its fragmented land as suggested in the distant patches of woodland, with the long wispy grasses in the foreground gracefully captured in a one second exposure that adds life and dynamism to the picture.

Often we are told an obvious lead in line needs to be applied to qualify as a landscape photograph but for me the more subtly integrated ones work best and in this case I see a zigzag visual route from the bottom patch of flowing grasses, heading diagonally towards the gate then in direction with the finger post along the path before rebounding diagonally again in direction with that evocative sky. The natural zigzag line breaks up the picture into four organic graphic shapes all constructed masterfully from our green and pleasant land of the backdrop sky mirroring midground footpath, and foreground curvature patterns of highlighted grasses that mirror the patterns of curvy patchy woodland in the background.

Furthermore, Joe has seemingly by magic pulled a passing cloud into position to mirror the gate. And Joe’s choice of Velvia film used to expose this scene has provided ideal blue rendered shadow tones that compliment well with the rich warm summer highlights.

 

Now that I have studied Gateway to the Moors II in more detail, I'm left with the highest respect of how Joe has constructed the picture here. Generally speaking painters may receive a higher gratitude in the art world with their paint brush editing skills than that of a landscape through the lens, but here we have the privilege of seeing through Joe's vision entirely constructed from an harmonious alignment with nature, a universal oneness. An conscious alignment now increasingly more important with the shift towards the urban and consumer way of life where balance and well-being can be all too easily neglected.

Nature here is faithfully rendered through Joe's lens, and nature just as itself is quite beautiful and for me a beauty quite unrivalled. 

 

I hope you enjoyed reading about one of my favourite photographs, I found it surprising how much I could write.......well they do say a picture paints a thousand words.

Here is a link to the article and please have a look at the many other first class content contained within the subscription based On Landscape magazine.