Nature

Trees on an island in Lake Annecy, France.

The character of trees is best perceived when the whole tree can be seen clearly. This does not often happen. When it does, one can fully appreciate the beauty, balance, originality and expressiveness of these majestic plants, each one different, but each one expressing the same aesthetic principles of growth. They are not unlike individual pieces of music. The creator, whoever it was who devised this method of coming into being, was surely an inspired artisan. Imagine the challenge: design all this into a seed!

Lake Annecy, France.

The play of light over such scenes is impressive, that's to say, one feels quite insignificant in comparison, and that is surely a good thing. Self-importance has to be one of the greatest bars to creativity.

Badby Woods, near Daventry, Northampton.

Somewhere between Badby and Everdon.

Everdon Stubbs, near Daventry, Northampton

The importance of photographing woods comes in part at least from the fact that most of them have been chopped down. https://badbyvillage.com/in-and-around-badby/history/the-woods/ In certain areas, the landscape has been ripped up by machines for profit with little regard for the overall effect on the quality of life. So showing the beauty of what has been lost elsewhere is important.

The sky is an inexhaustible subject for photography, and has also been intensively studied by various artists, most notably Turner and Constable, who were both interested in natural effects in the real world.

Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) Study of Sea and Sky, Isle of Wight (1827) oil on canvas (Tate Gallery) and John Constable (1776-1837) Study of clouds over a landscape, oil on paper laid down on panel (sold Christie's New York, 2017). Good as they are, these representations in paint only give a suggestion of the beauty and majesty of the real sky. A photograph can, in fact, come closer to the transcendent beauty of the real thing. And there is no need to sharpen the image so that it resembles something out of a tourist brochure.

Somewhere in the Peak District, England. The advantage of the Hasselblad Xpan is that it concentrates on what is often the most interesting area in landscapes with its 65x24 cm view. The beauty of this landscape is self evident. Nature is truly the cradle of humanity. The compositional features of the image are readily apparent: foreground, middle ground and distance clearly articulated, with the foreground feature of the road and fences leading the eye into the scene.

It is evident that the camera eye sees differently to the human eye, and learning how your camera sees things is a large part of learning how to use a camera, or, more precisely, that particular camera, because they are all different. Of course, predicting how a given scene will look has become much simpler since the advent of the digital camera, since one has immediate feedback. This speeds up the process of learning, but it is important to note that it is still necessary to learn. The other advantage of the digital camera is, of course, that you can take hundreds of shots of the same thing, leaving it till later to pick the best. And exposure bracketing is a great way to ensure that you will get at least one shot that is exposed correctly, or rather, to your liking. The idea that there is a correct exposure is something of a fallacy, and a dangerous fallacy because there is some truth in it. 'Correct' exposure can be tied to things that are measurable like absence of white out in the photo, but what constitutes the 'best' photo is an aesthetic judgment based on all the many criteria of aesthetic excellence. And, for that, you have to train your eye to perceive aesthetic excellence. White out can clearly be used to good aesthetic effect.