SF Bay Area Large Format Photography Group Message Board › Landscape and Architectural Landscape Photography

Landscape and Architectural Landscape Photography

user 4048518
Fremont, CA
Post #: 7
Hi everyone, I hope this is ok, but I know we dont meet as a group so often between great outings and I really like this group of Guys and Gals. I am just beginning my last few majors courses and this semester I am taking a class titled the same as the subject line above. I was wondering if anyone would be interested in sparking some conversation about some of the masters ( not Ansel Adams - moving back a little and past him to encompass the whole of the word landscape)
For instance I would like to start a sub discussion on Timothy O'Sullivan and post some of his works for investigation and analysis. I could post some of our assignments as well but that may be too much as I owe nine images already and today was the first day of class. So if this is ok with you all, I will post to this discussion some things about O'Sullivan and see if we can get some conversation started. My hope is to allow members to gain insights into these images and foster community between shoots.
user 4048518
Fremont, CA
Post #: 8
So here is Timothy O'Sullivan ( This information from text from A World History Of Photography ):
O'Sullivan came to landscape photography after 4 years of behind the Lines Civil War photography. He initially worked for Brady's Photographic Corps, along side of Alexander Gardner. He soon left with Gardner to publish war images. His images are wide ranging in subject and their message.

After the war, O'Sullivan was doing much less exciting studio work in NY when he found civilian and military expeditions to document the wilderness areas West of the Mississippi.

He shot a 9x12 stereograph camera with glass plates. He carried over 125 plates, darkroom equipment and chemicals for more than 2 years along the 40th parallel.

O'Sullivan attempted to ascend the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. He documented not only geological formations but members of the pueblo and rock dwelling tribes in the region of the Canyon de Chelle.

O'Sullivan approached the western landscape with the documentarian's respect for the integrity of visible evidence and the camera artist's understanding of how to isolate and frame decisive forms and structures in nature. Beyond this, he had the capacity to invest inert matter with a sense of mysterious silence and timelessness. These were evocative statements versus accurate records.

So for me the most interesting thing besides his travels is the description of his images which technically should equate to his awe and understanding of the areas around him. He was clearly hired to document but his images showed something of much more than a document.
Do you all agree by looking at some of the images he has taken? Is there something about his images you would like to capture with your large format cameras?

Lenny E.
user 11435796
Petaluma, CA
Post #: 3
You are on the money. O'Sullivan is often hailed as the best landscape photographer ever. The work is amazing, even if you don't consider what it took to accomplish. You left out my favorite the one of his wagon in the distance, on some sand dunes. The white on white of the dunes and sky is wonderful.
Bernice L.
user 69483362
San Jose, CA
Post #: 5
Ansel Adams also made a famous image of the White House Ruins that was very similar to O'Sullivan.

It has been said that landscape images created by a photographer says much about the photographer.

user 4048518
Fremont, CA
Post #: 9
Hi Lenny & Bernice, thanks for dropping by and commenting. I think this will spark some great discussion and aid in producing some new skills or at least explore some information that may help in "seeing" the landscape or igniting personal vision.
To that point 'Lenny" I had not heard of O'Sullivan until recently and I do like his works and his "intersecting" of the natural with man. I.E. his wagon in the frame or the crusty bottle in the corner while the still river bed is the subject.
Bernice your point is pinpoint spot on as far as a discussion about whether landscape photography has become more personal and conceptual as photography itself has progressed. This seems to fall right in line with your comment about the image saying that the images speak about the photographer. - So to use that as a jumping off point, Today we seem to trend towards big, bold and sharp definition with some notable photogs like Bernd and Hilla Becher, Thomas Struth and Andreas Gursky. Interestingly enough they all fall inline with the earliest works of a painter like Paul Bril or any wall in Rome with a mural set in a nobles home or public space. I for one , like to make my landscape work personal because there is so much out there that is impersonal. Do you all feel that your work falls into this category?
Ive added some works from the photogs I mentioned just now..

user 4048518
Fremont, CA
Post #: 10
To Stretch this out a bit further check out this quote:
Paul Caponigro. He has suggested that photography's potential as image-maker and communicator is "really no different from the same potential in the best poetry where familiar, everyday words, placed within a special context, can soar above the intellect and touch subtle reality in a unique way."
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