A landscape diptych

I have been attending a group called ‘The Image Group’ (TIG) for just over a month now after exposing my creative talent (or the lack of it!) at the Royal Photographic Society’s Distinction Advisory Day organised by TIG. The group meets weekly in Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol, Spain and has an interesting mix of people. Most are very experienced photographers who earned a living from photography and now continue their passion as a hobby, some still exhibit and earn money from their photography but there are also those of us who are less experienced but committed to becoming better photographers, some are at start of their journey to become professional photographers.

The group meets every week and is well attended. Normally 80% of the 17 members attend the weekly meetings which is impressive considering some people split their time between England and Spain. Every month, one of the meetings is a critique meeting where each person submits an image as part of  a themed assignment which is then subjected to artistic and technical critique (sometimes a little brutal but always useful feedback). To help members to develop their skills at producing sets of images, August’s assignment is to create a diptych (a pair of associated images).

For a diptych to work there has to be some connection between the two parts of the overall image, perhaps in their subject, colour, theme or form. The choice of theme for the assignment images was left open to allow members to choose an existing area of interest or to try a new subject area. I chose to stay with my landscape interest and went out to the Alhama de Granada area for inspiration. A favourite spot of mine.

In an old barn which is semi-derelict, perhaps used during harvest time as a shelter, I found some old chairs and an old water bottle and had the idea of using them as a visual symbol of the landscape observer, creating the diptych by coupling that image with a traditional view of the landscape in that area. The final result is shown below. I await with bated breath for the critique session in a few days time.

I think the diptych works in its own right visually but it also made me reflect on a central question for landscape photographers about the thought processes that convert land to a landscape. Here the diptych tries to capture the idea of land only becoming a landscape when someone takes the time to look at it, decides to select a particular view (by inference deselecting other potential views) and then uses the camera’s frame to turn that part of the land into a landscape.

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  2 comments for “A landscape diptych

  1. September 27, 2014 at 5:33 pm

    Hello David and yes for me too the pair work well visually. For me the chair makes it happen though through the number of roles it appears to play.

    At the simplest level it fills a compositional element in the larger scene e.g. the otherwise empty swathe of mown cornfield to the bottom right. This empty space in turn becomes the stage for the chair.

    The chair also suggests the presence of humans at some point so the land becomes a place. And yes, the fact that it is facing the scene suggests someone observing or viewing the “landscape”. A secondary function of this is that it invites the viewer to take a moment to more carefully view the scene.

    On closer inspection you notice the chair is old and falling apart. It has been abandoned. The bottle is empty so it is only a trace of something that once was. The idea of trace ” habitation is the leaving of traces” (Benjamin W. 1999) is mentioned frequently throughout the book Photography & Landscape by Giblett and Tolonen. It is the traces that also give the scene a sense of place.

  2. davidcollinsfoto
    September 30, 2014 at 7:11 pm

    Thanks Jane. Your thoughts about the place, space and trace dimensions of the image are really informative.

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