Fog. Yes, fog. That's what I worked with during several days of the two weeks I worked on this project. Fog, because it allowed me to work with the frame in a confining and reductive way and it alters the space.
If you try this way of working, this picking a place to shoot over and over again, try to pick something close to home or that you pass by every day. The benefit of having something very close by to where you are is enormous. My house is about 4 miles from Moshup Trail so I could be at home, take a look outside and be there in a few minutes.
In late spring/early summer the "up island" part of Martha's Vineyard is often shrouded in fog. To be more accurate, it is really that this part of the island is in the clouds. The pictures of the area that I had surveyed from the air were made in the early morning on a bright and cloudless day. I wanted the pictures made on the ground to be as different as I could make them, so chose to make them in low light with fog and in black and white:
When both ways of shooting here are considered, the aerials and then these from the ground, do you think this was effort to encompass the landscape I was shooting in a totality of coverage? To get at it in every way from every angle and every manner?
Not so much. It was an effort on my part to imbue the pictures made of the area with specificity of intent, to work with the location to mold it into what I wanted it to look like. Think for a moment about the staggering limitations of working within the idiom of landscape photography. There is tremendous history, lineage and countless careers built upon it. How does one extend the landscape rendered in photographs, move it and progress it while keeping it recognizable?
A primary motivator for a newly intermediate student of photography who seeks to be an artist is to find his/her "voice, a way to own their pictures. Easy enough; use a Holga or a Lensbaby to blur them, do something abnormal to the tonal scale, color, print size or shape, point the camera in different ways, play with focus or shutter times, etc.While it may seem easy to do that, to "individualize" your pictures, most manipulated pictures don't provide a base from which the alterations were made. So, it seems important to me to work comparatively, meaning to give this "map"as in New Way (1) and then to show what I did with it (New Way 2).
The two above are just focus shift comparisons, perhaps difficult to see on a small display but of large importance when you see the prints which are 22 inches across.
So, does it work? Have I made pictures that convey something moodier and perhaps darker here, and has that effect been brought to the forefront more due to the aerials provided as a reference? Does this way of working make sense to you? And finally, will I do this in the future: make series pictures in this new comparative way? Can't say for sure, but probably. Wouldn't you?
Tech fact: I made the pictures in New Way 2 hand held in low light with the ISO set to 1600. They are entirely usable and excellent with very little noise. Amazing.