Cameras do not report only one reality but the world as the photographer sees it. Commonly, an image is believed to be ‘real’ or at least an accurate portrayal of reality. A large component of the perception of reality in images has to do with the way photographs imitate our three dimensional world. In Pressed Landscapes, Samantha Chrysanthou subverts this traditional use of photography.

Through careful selection of subject matter, finely tuned compositions and deliberate work with focal length, the photographs in Pressed Landscapes portray a world flattened and static in time – as if pressed in the pages of a scrapbook. This whimsical take on traditional landscape photography at once reveals the hand of the photographer while simultaneously inviting us to ponder the world beyond the fixed photo on the page.

Watch for the finished project, 2017.

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    6 Comments

    1. Cal
      September 14, 2015

      Hi Samantha .

      I have never made friends with the artificial depth produced by wide angle lenses when making landscape images. My brain does not “glimpse” via pano but elements within a grand view please me. A pond should not become a lake nor a stream turn into the Fraser River and the Alps should not turn into the Alberta foot hills. My feeling is that I am impressed enough to spend my time, effort and $ to get to a location that makes me want to try to make a pleasant image of it, why would I want to distort it? Flattening the view distorts in a different way by framing and/or bringing elements together more like my brain interoperates them.

      I bought a 45mm T&S for landscapes and pano stich for wider views. The other lenses I like are a 55mm Zeiss and the new 300mm f4 Nikon. My bucket list includes a workshop with Darwin to wrestle my 45mm T&S beast into compliance!

      Take care. Cal

      Reply
    2. Andrew
      November 24, 2015

      Really interesting concept. Thanks for the post.

      Cal’s comment is interesting to me for two reasons: I can understand the point he is trying to make, but in photography you can have your cake and eat it too. Want something more real and rewarding for your effort? Go ahead, take your landscape shots. But once your gone to the trouble to get somewhere, why not exploit it to its fullest. This post really walks the fringes between taking photographs to remember a location or capture an experience, and the artful, creative side that composition, focal compression and careful thought can generate. I say why choose? Change lenses and get it all!

      Reply
    3. Jane Chesebrough
      March 11, 2016

      I really think you have captured the flatness in this scene-sounds funny to say it that way. I am reminded of the japanese printmaker’s that inspired the french painters around the impressionist or expressionist period.Of course I cannot think of examples because I don’t have my art history books close by.Well seen, Samantha. i like the subtlety of the tones in that first one.

      Reply
    4. Mike
      March 15, 2016

      Samantha,

      The first photo has totally stopped me since your recent blog post. I keep going back to it. To me, it’s one of the most captivating images I’ve seen, ever, and I spend a lot of time both pursuing photo sites, blogs, publications besides doing my own shooting.

      I can’t tell you what or why, and that is a beauty of photography and art.

      Thank you.

      Mike

      Reply
    5. Samantha Chrysanthou
      June 14, 2016

      Thanks for the comments everyone. I totally see Cal’s point – indeed there is no need to improve upon nature! Andrew nails it though; it comes down to your intent. Are you making a faithful rendering of a majestic natural scene? Or is there something else you wish to say about the subject matter. Photography is art – we get to do both as Andrew says. Yay!

      Thank you Jane and Mike for your feedback. Always gratifying to learn your ideas are resonating.

      Interestingly, part of what compels me to do this project in this way circles back to Cal’s desire to capture the glory of nature. A question that haunts me as a landscape photographer whose visits necessarily impact wild places is what if we continue to lose these beloved wild places at unsustainable rates?

      What if there are no natural places left… no lakes, no grizzlies, no songbirds…what if all we have are two-dimensional scraps of a once vibrant, thrumming, three-dimensional natural world?

      Reply
    6. Visitor
      June 11, 2017

      It all depends on the the result you want to achieve and your personal style of photography. It also depends on the way you understand photography as a whole, the way you see it.
      Personally, I think there are couple of different types of photographers out there.
      One type is the photographers who understand photography as a 2D image. These guys usually choose to compress the depth of field of the image and make their images as 2D as possible, resulting in a very graphical look of the scene, the final image starts to look like a vector kind of art where the lines are very dominant and where the viewer finds hard to distinguish the distance between different objects of the scene. this results in an interesting kind of view witch can not be seen with our eyes because our mind and our eye understands the depth, that is why we see our world as a 3D space. So these photographers tend to represent a 3D view as a 2D image on a plane surface such as paper.
      The other type of photographers try as hard as they can to represent 3D scene on the 2D medium (such as paper) as 3D as possible. That is why the depth of field is very important, and that is why different kind of distortions help them achieve that 3D look easier. Wide angle lens distorts in the way witch increase the “tunnel” effect towards he center of the image and this creates the 3D illusion in the image, now if you add the particular DOF effect lets say something that can be produced with ~24mm 1.4f you can get really engaging photography, that will make the image viewer feel as if he/she is there in the scene almost touching the hand of the point of interest that is in focus while the background is blurred just enough. In addition with these kind of possibilities that we get today (I say today, because back in the day, simply, there were not such lenses that could achieve these results) we can create very interesting and intriguing pictures, we can mimic the “dream” like effect very clearly using these methods.

      I believe that these rules also can be applied between different generations of photographers. Older generation photographers usually are more concerned about distortion levels, about the line straightness, about the composition perfection, about the format in witch photography will be represented, the light importance particular in black and white photography. These are the rules form the “old school” and this is more of a conservative understanding of a photography. With all the respect I am not saying its bad or wrong in any way.
      While the younger generation is striving to try something new each time they are taking a picture. Usually they pay attention to a different type of things, because all this old school understanding and rules are already seen many many times my many many millions of people and the new look, the new kind of thinking is needed to make your photography stand out or just to make you want to photograph again. Then again today we have a lot of new possibilities, starting with the really wide angle looks, and fallowing the ability to photography at night as if it was nothing. Who, back in the day, would have though that in the future we would be able to photograph the night sky so freely at night? – photograph the scene without light..
      I am stating the fact, that today, we have many more opportunities to achieve something new. It may not be perfect, it may not be appealing for some people. But I believe that with new gear and new possibilities, the rules and understanding about photography should also change a little 🙂

      Reply

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