An Urban Winter Art Fog Landscape
Path Through Fog. Eerie and fairly scary that day. It’s occurred to me that in my last few art posts I’ve heaped praise on some of my favourite photographers, such as Ansel Adams, Diane Arbus and Wynn Bullock, all of whom just happen to be North American. Of course, whilst I am happy to share my enthusiasm for these talented people from North America, if you’ve been paying attention you know I myself am from England, the land of endless green fields, tea and crumpets and (as most North Americans seem to think) under-employed orthodontists.
I therefore think it’s my duty to redress this oversight and bring your attention to an English photographer, and one who sadly is largely unheralded. He was famous for his work with nudes (Ah-ha! Bet you’re interested now!) and landscapes. His name is Bill Brandt. His full name was actually Hermann Wilhelm Brandt, and he was born in Hamburg, Germany in 1904. We’ll gloss over Brandt’s Teutonic beginnings – as Brandt did himself – as he had a very British father. He also had a crazy few formative years which took him to Switzerland, Austria and France, before he moved to London in 1933. By then, Brandt had already spent time working with Man Ray, and he soon took his camera out into his new home and took candid photographs of all aspects of British society. He would become known as one of the masters of 20th century photography as well as one of the most distinguished, having been commemorated with an English Heritage blue plaque award.
Brandt largely worked in monochrome, using contrast, shadow and light with startling effectiveness. He was particularly fond of photographing the human body, but in inventive ways and at imaginative angles. One of his most famous photographs is simply of a pair of legs, shot from the perspective of the legs’ owner. The resulting image appears quite mundane, until you begin to appreciate the curves, angles and shadows that the composition creates. The whole effect is to turn something quite ordinary into something which seems unworldly.
Brandt once said about his photography:
“When I have seen or sensed – I do not know which it is – the atmosphere of my subject, I try to convey that atmosphere by intensifying the elements that compose it. I lay emphasis on one aspect of my subject and I find that I can thus most effectively arrest the spectator’s attention and induce in him an emotional response to the atmosphere I have tried to convey.”
That to me is almost a perfect explanation of what I try and convey in my own photography artwork. We’re surrounded by images – they’re inside our heads constantly, yet we’re rarely inspired by what we see. So it’s my job as a photographer to seek out and compose those images and visions that do inspire; that evoke an emotional response, just as Brandt says.
To illustrate this blog, I’ve selected a recent art composition of mine which I’ve called “Path through Fog”. It’s definitely a very eerie piece, not so say a little sinister (especially if you look closely enough). I love the perspective, and the repetitiveness of the trees and benches in this photography artwork. I’m a lover of thrillers and spy films and can almost imagine a spy emerging silently out of the fog… and disappearing just as mysteriously. This black and white shot emphasizes how the fog has managed to suck most of the colour out of the world, creating an atmospheric scene that’s bleak and beautiful in equal measure. Visit my online art gallery to view the full colour version of Path through Fog. Again, note how the fog effectively sucks most of the colour out of the scene so that even in colour nature has created a bleak scene.
As for the sinister aspect – have you spotted it? Count the trees from the right, and keep going until you reach the fifth. What is that? Could it really be what it looks like? Has this harsh winter just been too much to cope with for someone?
I am of course happy to report that this sinister dangling figure is nothing more than a lifebuoy attached to a pole…did it have you puzzling for a moment? What was your emotional response to nature’s bleak winter scene?