Assignment 5 the brief

Produce a body of work that explores a particular place, type of space or theme relating to landscape practice.  You’re free to choose the subject for this assignment, although you should be able to contextualise the project in relation to contemporary landscape practice. 

Negotiate the subject, as well as your research, technical and visual strategies, with your tutor before you start work.  The depth of your research, the scope of the development of the project and its resolution should reflect a substantial effort of independent study, as expected of students at Level 2 (HE5).

Submit your work to your tutor by whatever means and in whatever form you’ve agreed with them (e.g. book, portfolio, installation maquette or slideshow).  If your self-directed project isn’t submitted as a conventional set of prints, we suggest you include a portfolio of the photographs in addition (max A4 / 8” x 12”). This will allow assessors to evaluate the quality of your work independently of how you’ve elected to present it.

Also include:  An evaluation of your work (as for previous assignments).  An artist’s statement that professionally contextualises your work to its audience. (This may be what you produced for Exercise 5.7.)   Your original project proposal and your latest version of it, if applicable.

Personal Learning Opportunity

I belong to a group for female photographers founded by Angela Nicholson called SheClicks (SheClicks, 2019). Over Christmas I found an online challenge on the group’s Facebook page in which we had five days of Equine Fine Art tutorials, by a talented fine artist (who coincidentally used to tutor Fine Art for OCA) and equine photographer Jane Lazenby.

I have always shied away from Photoshop. I have never been comfortable using it, partly because I don’t know how to, and partly because I don’t like overly photoshopped images. However, looking at the type of images being produced and with a promise that it would be done slowly and in easy steps I signed up. Well, lets face it, Boris and Covid had kind of put paid to any Christmas plans I might have had.

I jumped in, holding my nose, and splashed around in the shallow end. Jane supplied the equine images (but we were free to use our own) and walked us through the steps to create beautiful images. I finally felt as though some one understood my fear of Photoshop and talked my language – Photoshop doesn’t always do as you want it to, just breathe and wait for it to catch up, or try again. A mutual love of gin helped to break the ice! Live tutorials, and accessible support via the pages of Facebook all helped to ease the way forward for us all.

I have subsequently joined her members site (Lazenby, 2020), as she has plenty of tutorials on making background textures, brushes (something I have wondered about in the past) and critique nights, as well as live edit evenings. It is fascinating to watch her work. I feel it is money well spent as content is added regularly.

During the challenge I took this image (from a parade in 2018) from this:

To this:

Not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but way beyond what I thought I could ever achieve previously. These techniques can be applied to many genres, but I think the removal of the fear factor, and the ability to use methods applied here to assist in editing my general images will go a long way to improving what I can produce. I am really looking forward to experimenting with some of the techniques on my solargraphs as well. The techniques need a lot of practise and I am trying to improve on how I use my Wacom tablet and pen too (not easy either).


SheClicks (2019). SheClicks. [online] SheClicks. Available at: [Accessed 3 Feb. 2021].

Lazenby, E.J. (2020). EJLazenby Fine Art Photographer and Artist | Learning and Resources. [online] EJLazenby FIne Art Photographer and Artist. Learning and Resources. Available at: [Accessed 3 Feb. 2021].

Assignment 4 – Research Photographers

Ingrid Pollard – British, Guyan born. – Pastoral Interludes, introduced via course notes, I was also interested in the works Oceans Apart, and Seaside Series, the latter exploring ideas of invasion and repulsion.

Bindi Vora, is a British photographer living and working in London. I was particularly interested in her experiences photographing White in the Sea, in which she spends whole days photographing the way the light changes on the sea around the coasts of Britain using 35mm film.

Mohini Chandra there is a series of images called Imaginary Edens/Photos of my Father in which Chandra uses photographs of her father from her family albums, takes him out and replaces him with images from the backdrops from the family photography studios in Fiji. I am not quite sure why she took her father out, although she says his corporeal absence alludes to a diasporic experience of in-between-ness. Although I didn’t experience a migratory childhood like Chandra did, I can see the worth in going back through family archives to draw upon.

Zarina Bhimji is a Ugandan Asian photographer, based in London. Her work of landscapes and buildings feature layered histories which are key to her large scale photography and film. Although her favoured locations appear to be India and East Africa. Her personal website I found hard to navigate, and I found it easier to look at the past exhibition at Whitechapel Gallery in 2012 to get a sense of the colours and the layering which is key to her work.

Joy Gregory Black British particularly interested in the Sites of Africa project, where Gregory photographed landscape images of sites in London and its connection to the continent of Africa. Gregory found it important to document the history as many of the sites are now known for something else. For instance, I didn’t know there was a Black Mayor in 1913.

Dafna Talmor – her constructed landscapes, and also obstructed views, both were of interest to me. Constructed landscapes are also a feature of the work of Aster Reem David, his reimagined landscapes is an ongoing work

George Steinmetz and American photographer he primarily uses drones, and paragliders to take overhead images I became aware of him via a bit of a controversy on Twitter, and then when this essay came up he seemed an ideal case in point.

Buku Sarkar is a photographer I came across through her writing initially, she had written about a piece of work called Photowali Didi where she is living back in India and exploring an area she perhaps wouldn’t have explored as a young girl. Fast forward to today and she is documenting her illness and her containment at home in Containment Diaries, the series I am really intrigued by is Dawn. The moody, atmospheric images are taken on a train journey, there are more images available to see on the LensCulture site

Wayne Quilliam is an Aboriginal photographer who has some beautiful landscape images, I find the colour and also the edit appeal to me, and while I don’t necessarily like an over-edited image personally, they do stand out. He also photographs people. His images of other indigenous peoples sparked the question how did making these images make him feel, and could a photographer of that people got some thing extra that he didn’t. I did reach out but didn’t get a response. I wonder if I phrased the question clumsily. However, his images of Aboriginal people are beautiful and are something to aspire to.

Ricky Maynard Portraits of a Distant Land Another indigenous Aboriginal photographer, working in Tasmania, where there is a much darker history. His landscape images address issues of identity, site and nation. Features songlines, cornerstones etc.

Aida Muleneh – Ethiopian photographer. I have seen Aida’s art work in real life, it was stunning. Here I was trying to find Ethiopian photographers who could have done the work of George Steinmetz for National Geographic. Her photojournalist examples while not showcasing the environment like Steinmetz did, I am certain that she could have fulfilled the brief. I also looked at the Italian Photographer Fausto Podavini who spent 5 years on and off photographing the construction of a large dam in Ethiopia to see what the effect was on tribal communities There are a lot of projects on his site that feature stories from other countries and ethnicities.

Maheder Haileselassie – Ethiopian photographer again. another photographer I looked at in terms of replacing Steinmetz. I get the impression that she does a fair amount of work in growing Ethiopian photography (as does Muleneh, who founded the Addis Ababa Foto Fest) as well as with non profit organisations. Her travel images within Ethiopia are beautiful and have a very different feel to those of Steinmetz.

Prasanjeet Yadav primarily a scientific photographer, but his work in Indian landscapes shows how big the landscape there actually is! It fills the frame something to aim for! I don’t think I have ever been anywhere that is so vast.

Tanya Houghton I had a good look through all the work on her website, and although I was particularly looking at Songlines, I also looked at Unknown River, Griffith Park and The Great Glens. Her website says she is drawn to the remote and wild spaces and that she is drawn to the people who live in, experience and protect the lands I don’t get a sense of this when looking at the work. I wonder if it is me.

Exercise 4.5: Signifier – Signified.

Find an advert from a magazine, newspaper or the internet, which has some clearly identifiable signs. Using the example above to help you, list the signs. What are the signifiers? What is signified? Read Barthes’ essay to help clarify your understanding of these principles. You might find Barthes hard going at first, but please persevere. The way in which meaning is constructed in an image is directly relevant to photographic practice. 

Here we are again, signifiers and Barthes. I think every OCA course I have done has referenced this essay by Barthes and my initial reaction to be honest was ‘What? Again?’ I don’t buy newspapers or magazines so I waited for a club magazine (Caravan and Camping Club, 2020) to arrive and began to look for a suitable image. While the image may not have the same sgnified meanings to a non-caravanner, to a member of the Club they will have meaning.


Winter Advert CCC Magazine Vol.115 No. 12 pp36-37


  • Caravan
  • Motorhome
  • Frosty Trees
  • Frosty Ground
  • Electic Hook Up Column
  • Blue Sky
  • Silver Screens on Motorhome
  • Landscape image (showing country side scene rather than urban)


  • The types of units which may go out in winter
  • The weather isn’t always bad (blue sky, dry)
  • Winter can be beautiful (frosty trees, sparkly)
  • There are ways to keep the Motorhome cosy (silver screens on windscreen)
  • Electric hook up can make life easier. 
  • You won’t be the only one on a campsite in winter (not one unit pictured but two) but it will be peaceful. 

Caravan and Camping Club (2020). Winter AdvertCamping and Caravan Club Magazine Vol.115 No.12.

Personal Reflection

As I write we are into the final stretch of Lockdown2 and we will re-emerge into Tier 3. This has come as a bit of a shock to many people in our town, and the sight of a Covid testing centre being constructed in a town park car park resulted in some fierce debate on a local Facebook Group. It certainly knocked me sideways, and resulted in a few very down days, especially as I was recovering from dental surgery and feeling sorry for myself anyway!

It also means that our plans for Christmas have been turned upside down (more fool us for daring to plan something) and once again the exhibition has been postponed, until we emerge from Tier 3 (probably to be put right back in again once the post Christmas surge happens). The venue reassures me that I am the first one in, and that it will go ahead as soon as possible with additional support in advertising. I am not holding my breath, but it does make me wonder about how to finish off Assignment 5 which I was using it for. I think I will probably submit it as it is, and then update (hopefully before Assessment) with any reaction to the exhibition and footage of it in place. I know that I am not the only one who has had exhibitions pulled, and I am considering how to stage the exhibition outdoors if that is possible, and how to retain the clarity of the images. But that is for another day.

In the meantime, I am refocussing once again on part 4, and working my way steadily through the exercises. Totally unsurprised if not disappointed to see Barthes and signifiers reappearing, but I will go with it. We don’t buy newspapers or magazines so once again I will have to work out how to find a print advert to do the exercise.

I am collecting articles and photographers so that I can immerse myself in researching and writing my critical essay. I am looking forward to doing this, although I think my point of view is already fairly well established in my head and I need to be careful to ensure I provide a balanced argument. Fortunately there is an increased awareness of the issue I wish to discuss so that is extremely helpful.

I have found it very hard to get motivated to get out with my camera, the weather is not conducive, and I really wanted a foggy picture for my Transitions assignment. Have we had fog? Have we heck as like, despite it being forecast, and other areas having it. I know exactly when it will arrive. Just after I have submitted the assigment!

It is just three weeks or so until Christmas, I have no idea if I will be able to see my Grandson open his presents, as they are in a Tier 3 area too, and we are being very strict about the 3 households. My son’s partner has a large family spread about so it is possible that we will miss out. Our youngest son still hasn’t managed to get his house purchase over the line, so we don’t know where he will be for Christmas, or if he/ we will be moving him in on Christmas Eve. I find it very hard to live like this, I like to know what I am doing and when. All I can do is control the controllables, and there seem to be less and less of those these days.

Exercise 4.4: ‘Of Mother Nature and Marlborough Men’

Read Deborah Bright’s essay ‘Of Mother Nature and Marlborough Men’, note key points of interest and your personal reflections in your learning Log. 

This essay was written in 1984/5 and I feel it highlights some tenets of where I am now on my learning in photography. The main points that interested me are listed below in bullet points.  

  1. Images of landscape cannot be perceived simply as an antidote to politics.
  2. Images of landscape should not be regarded simply as the occasion for aesthetic pleasure in arrangements of material objects in ironic constellations. 
  3. A reminder that Landscape is a relatively modern phenomena. 
  4. Landscape is a selected and constructed text
  5. Landscape does not demonstrate inclusion, rather repression. 
  6. Every representation of landscape is also a record of human values and actions.
  7. Why does the art of landscape photography remain so singularly identified with a masculine eye?
  8. Does the concept that a nature experience is a desirable antidote to the urban experience alter the landscape? 
  9. The routing of roads, railways, pathways, signage, to enable visitors to experience the best places in a sanitised way. Providing work, and income. The tourist effect. 
  10. The role of photographs as a token of original experience and prompt to experience
  11. Representation of the romantic dream of an unsullied wildness where you can commune with nature without technological intervention
  12. Beauty, preservation, development, exploitation, regulation, are historical matters in flux, not essential conditions of the landscape.
  13. Political interference. 
  14. The majority of historical, revered landscape photographers given credence and authority are men. 
  15. Reading of landscape photography is political despite attempts by galleries and collectors to subvert this. 
  16. ‘Famous’ photographers gain more leverage than those lesser known even when the lesser photographers work is of a similar standard.
  17. The difference between images in a gallery and for art, and the availability to the general public.
  18. Womens landscape photography impetus came via ecofeminism in the 70s, albeit with troublesome ideas of allocated attitudes.
  19. a need to be aware of ideological assumptions that structure our approaches. 
  20. Art market success is seen as enviable, a responsibility on the socially committed photographer to be vigilant. Issue based work will eventually become divorced from its specific context over time, the aim is to reject this from the start. 
  21. Landscape imagery has almost always been used to argue for timeless virtues of a nature that transcends history. In the Modern era, landscapes seen to be little more than stage sets for private aesthetic experiences captured on film.   


Having read this essay, I can see aspects in my own work that are shaped by the arguments made here. For example, the construction of images in an aesthetic way that are politically motivated. Does the fact that I have chosen to highlight the rubbish in the river have political motivation or  is it down to my female nature?  I need to be aware that perhaps not everybody will have the same attitude to picking up rubbish that I do, or what the effects on this are. They are indeed a reflection of human values and actions. People who do not value the environment leave rubbish behind, or deliberately dispose of it in a way which is not responsible. 

Am I happy to have my work on show in such a small venue? Yes. Why? Because it is accessible to all, it is not as intimidating as an art gallery, or a museum. The work is available at prices that are affordable to most people who would be likely to visit. Am I likely to gain art market success? no, and because of this I can hopefully retain the integrity. 

The point that Bright makes about repression is something that I want to touch upon in my critical essay. I also want to cover the lack of female landscape photographers which is even more noticeable in indigenous photography. While this essay was written in the mid eighties, and at that time women landscape photographers were not as well known, there has been an improvement in this sphere, although not parity.  Female landscape photographers more latterly include: Evelyn Hofer, Jitka Hanzlova, Tina Barney, Fay Godwin, Lisa Lewenz, Dorothea Lange, Laura Gilpin, Tonika Lewis Johnson (who gained international recognition after confronting Alex Soth over plagiarism), Lee Miller. Not all of these photographers specialized in landscape though, and because of these perhaps it becomes more important to recognise that Landscape photography can be a political documentary. 

Exercise 4.3: A subjective voice

Write an entry in your learning log (around 300 words) reflecting n any current and previous circumstances and experiences that you think may influence, or may have influenced, your view of the landscape. Describe how you think these factors might inform your ideas about landscape photography or related themes. 

I have always considered the countryside as a place of rest and recuperation, a place to visit, to admire and then return home having left no trace. I am very aware that the ‘pretty places’ have a greater footfall, and the impact this has on the environment and the local inhabitants.

When I was growing up in suburban Leicestershire it was not unknown for me to spend my days out on my bike riding a route in the countryside that my Dad had worked out for me, spending my weekends riding horses on the other side of the city in the  countryside. Summer holidays were spent with a friend of my Mother’s up in the Lake District at her farm, walking round tarns, running riot in the fields and riding horses bareback.  Sounds idyllic (spoiler – it wasn’t). I have fond memories, but the habits I  had drilled into me have stayed with me all my life and in turn they have been passed onto my own children, especially as we were by then living in the New Forest.

Ranging from ‘Follow the Country Code’, pick up your litter and other people’s, don’t pick flowers and don’t trespass to don’t pick fruits from a hedgerow unless you are CERTAIN it won’t kill you!! I gained a recognition of different British birds and wild animals, but not so much trees and plants. As a Scout Leader I was keen to reinforce Scouting principles that you leave no trace. A litter pick was always held after camps and this continues in my own camping even now.

It is this background that is informing my  work at the moment. The  litter that was left on beaches and in picturesque areas that I know well (the Lake District, the New Forest to name but two) after the first lockdown eased was just staggering. I was looking at some of my Transitions images and  noticed the amount of rubbish in the river. Then I began to photograph the variety I saw.

I am finding now, that I am spotting more rubbish in odd places, without necessarily looking for it. My proposal and Assignment 5 will look into this more closely.

Word count: 359

Exercise 4.2: The British landscape during World War II

Read the short extract from ‘Landscape for Everyone’, published in John Taylor (1994) A Dream of England: Landscape, Photography and the Tourist’s Imagination. Summarise the key points in your learning log, along with any other observations or reflections. 

I found this a fascinating read, and am going to try and get the book from my local library. However, the key points that I took from the extract are these:

We have always looked back at images of the landscape in a nostalgic way, he refers to Masterman imagining looking down and watching the history of England unfold, as Masterman turns the wheel of his Mutoscope he pauses at key moments. This reminded me of the 2012 Olympic opening ceremony directed by Danny Boyle. I wonder if he was influenced by this idea in any way?

Taylor refers to the fears of  a blackened or suburban England being overtaken by the fear of invasion from abroad and then goes on to discuss how the landscape was changed, the removal of signposts, the closing of businesses, the removal of village signs. The countryside became anonymous to all apart from those who lived in the location, and yet it was assumed that the close-knit communities would continue to survive, even if the unthinkable happened and the UK was invaded. In my own recent lived location of the New Forest, the landscape was changed forever with the building of airfields, hards (slipways) and supplementary army housing. The remnants of which can still be seen today. The movement of troops especially towards D-Day had a big impact on the transport networks.

In ensuring that the perceived beauty of the countryside was remembered books were published, propaganda posters made, and it is in these and newspaper imagery that we see the biggest impact on how the countryside and suburban areas are imagined and promoted. The point is made that by appealing to the viewer’s sense of history in three different ways (continuity with the past, love of scenery and social reform) history is appearing in picture making. Images on postcards from the seaside resorts still showed the beaches and promenades as they were, rather than as they are now (Postcard from Blackpool, 1941).

Screenshot 2020-11-10 at 15.02.26

Screen shot of image from ebay listing.

This is history in a conventional format, reminding us of what it used to be like. Those who lived in resorts particularly on the South coast were surrounded by barbed wire and beach defences.

Images for the press were more subtly addressed. Photographers knew that images would be more likely to be published if they had a positive angle. Quoted are examples of evacuees in scenic places, reminders of social change. The National Trust, while founded in 1895, was enabled to accept gifts of houses and land without tax implications in 1937 by Statute and reached its 50th birthday in 1945 at a point in history where preservation was becoming more important. Partly informed by the imagery posted during the war which stoked a nostalgia for ‘the good old days’ despite the fact that pretty country cottages hid what was often a harsh life. By publishing images that were positive in our favour and negative on the enemies side, the press and the Ministry of Information was able to narrate a version of history that is largely unchallenged, even today.

This is still going on today. The recent American Presidential Election has produced a range of imagery, perhaps the most striking example of the use of propaganda imagery is in terms of Covid-19 and the rallies held by both sides. A quick Google image search (, 2020.)shows Republican rallies, there are images of no social distancing, no mask wearing, Democrat rallies, the complete opposite, examples of social distancing, and mask wearing.

Screenshot 2020-11-10 at 15.22.00

Google search terms Biden Rally

Screenshot 2020-11-10 at 15.22.14

Google search terms Trump Rally

All of this goes back to the premise, the camera never lies. Yes it does, and the images are used to tell the story that they want you to see. As described by Taylor when talking about the effect that the images of the Battle of Britain which were put out, posture makes a big impact and this can be seen above.


Postcard from Blackpool. (1941). Ebay. Available at: (n.d.). biden rally – Google Search. [online] Available at: [Accessed 10 Nov. 2020a]. (n.d.). trump rally – Google Search. [online] Available at: [Accessed 10 Nov. 2020].