I worked on this assignment over the course of around five months, from conception to completion. I was tasked with showing how photographs of a landscape at certain intervals would show a transition.
I decided upon Mill Hill in nearby Shoreham-by-Sea for my scene, based on a previous shot I had taken from the same vantage point. From one of the highest points in the area, the view encompasses a number of geological and man-made features.
Planning to Execution
A detailed plan of what I planned to do is here.
I wanted to avoid the standard monthly or seasonal transition and so decided on a shorter time-frame of a handful of months. However, I assumed that this would not show enough of a change and so I opted to show the change in time of day at the same time.
My original timeline ended up being pushed back a couple of weeks to begin with. During April I was ill and this meant missing the ‘sunset’ shoot that month. This meant that the remaining shots were postponed by a fortnight, further altering the planned timings.
Morning – 9:36am – March 16th
Midday – 11:15am – March 30th
Afternoon – 15:50pm – April 12th
Sunset – 8:20pm – May 4th
Dusk – 9:25pm – May 18th
Night – 10:30pm – June 1st
Dawn – 4:10am – June 15th
Sunrise – 4:50am – June 29th
I think that it’s important to discuss the role of planning in my work generally. As a sufferer of anxiety, it’s impossible to act like a ‘normal’ photographer and take situations as they come; to be spontaneous. Instead, I plan photographic excursions to the smallest detail. Whether it’s using Google Street View, satellite imagery or looking at the work of other photographers’, I know exactly what I am likely to find before I step out of the door. That tends to mean that I have a very clear image in my head of what a shot should look like. Often this is reflected in almost an exact final photograph.
I used a wide-angle 21mm f/2.8 lens to capture a larger space. This also came in handy when photographing in the dark due to it’s wide maximum aperture. I used a tripod each time and set it up next to a specific fence post to try and shoot from the exact spot every time I returned.
To better show the changing light and time, I made a slideshow of the final images:
There were more seasonal changes than I had expected over the course of the set. Grass and other foliage grows, the water levels of the river change and agricultural production takes place. At night lights turn on and car lights are visible.
What I found most interesting was the affirmation I found when putting the final images together in a set. The daylight shots simply didn’t stand out to me in any meaningful way, instead seeming ‘typical’ and nondescript. In contrast, the night holds so much interest for me from the settings and thought that goes into getting the light just right to the dark shadows and brighter colours that appear without the sun.
Unfortunately, whilst the transition between day and night is quite stark in the final shots, the loss of clarity and detail at night is quite extreme. There isn’t much ambient lighting at night in this area which meant doing a lot of post-processing to make the sixth (night-time) remotely passable. Perhaps a shorter day/night cycle would have worked better; starting at dawn and ending at dusk..
If I could start again, I would do a lot differently. When I look back on my planning I stated, “Whilst not finding a particular interest in landscapes, I do enjoy using wide-angle lenses to capture as much breadth as possible in a scene.” Having not learned much about what a landscape could be until after this exercise, I had no option other than to cover a ‘classic landscape’, something I later acknowledged that I disliked. Since the beginning of this assignment I’ve found a keen interest in Becher-style man-made subjects. I would have chosen something like an electricity pylon and used the closeness of the subject to reflect changes in light over time.
The problem lies in the positioning of this assignment. As the final assignment, it should reflect the learning over the course of the entire unit. Instead, it only shows off where I started. It is an assignment that feels ‘cut off’ from the rest.