Monday, 27 January 2014

Writing Analytically - Exercise - Analyse a Photograph

Following on from the introduction and the 10 point check list this exercise requires that one of my own photographs be subjected be tested and analysed. I have taken one from Landscape Assignment 2 - One Acre. Within the assignment set it didn't have a title, but for here I will call it "Marram"


To achieve some detachment from the image I will write in the 3rd person. 

First impression

A minimalist approach using a small monochrome image on a large white mount. Within the frame there is very little except grass and sky, although we know by the grass that the wind is blowing and there are stormy clouds.The content is producing power and energy with an overwhelming feeling of foreboding.The graphic content is prominent.

The genre

It is clearly outdoors and is a landscape image. The 4:3 aspect ratio is not a contemporary format for the genre as one would generally see 3:2 for this type of image. As a result the image has a dated analogue appearance.

The intended use

The intended use is not obvious. It is demonstrating the energy of the wind and the strength of the rough grassland. It could be an illustration for grass but unlikely in monochrome and is more likely to offer something through the symbology of the wind or dark sky. As a single gallery print it would be successful, especially if part of a larger portfolio. It is not a "pretty" image and therefore unlike to be advertising for the coast. 

The immediate situation facing the photographer

Although there would appear to be all the time in the world to make the image I can imagine that with the wind and stormy sky there would be only have been a small window of opportunity. Moving grass needs a fast shutter speed and a quick reaction to get the maximum deflection and create the symbolism of energy and to be in context against the dark sky.

Unplanned or Planned

Unplanned but maybe in an organised way ? Unlikely that this individual shot was planned although the location and timing would have been considered to produce work of this genre. A sky with no detail would not have the same impact and therefore I can assume it is at least planned for the time of year and weather.

Technical Details

The image is a tight crop and shows only a small piece of grass so I assume a short telephoto lens. This has the effect of foreshortening the perspective and with a large aperture reducing the depth of field. The result has the grasses in the distance out of focus and allows me to concentrate on the sharper curved grass. A fast shutter speed has frozen the grass with its strong curve.


A typical monochrome image has been used in a style reminiscent of  many landscape photographers of the early 20th century and as such is not remarkable, but adequate.

Photographers Intent

A similar issue to The Intended Use above. In this instance the photographer is asking me to look in detail at a small area and by association ask what is surrounding it. The power of the natural elements,the compressed perspective and the intimacy of the cropping achieve this.  

Is there sufficient information available.

The image has strong graphic qualities, but little is known about its location other that it is Marram and it is poor weather. In this instance we don't need to know any more as we are being asked to think around the image and develop our own thoughts and conclusions.


It is not illustrative in any way and as such does not need to justify itself in that context. As a conceptual image it is a success as it offers the viewer a number of alternative narratives. It is technically competent with no issues that need resolving although I imagine there are those who would like more contrast rather than the flat tones used. 


It is very difficult to be objective about one of your own images. I deliberately choose one from 2 years ago in order to try some detachment. Also an image that was never stunning as a stand alone piece and as a result struggles as an item in its own right. However as I looked at it and developed my thoughts through the 10 points I began to appreciate it and felt comfortable with my comments. It is a discipline that should be adopted with all work, especially when there is a brief and a deliverable. Thinking and writing analytically need not be saved until the end of the process and the 10 point list is a good aide memoir for a continuous critique in any image making situation.

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