Advanced Studio Practice 2a – Reading Week Additional Task – Conceptualisation – Project Proposal – Capturing Sunsets showing the North of England as a ‘beautiful place’

1450 12101Bamburgh Beach, Northumberland

3-5 Images: Project Proposal Update – Sunsets showing the North of England as a ‘beautiful place’.

Relates to Outcomes: 1 and 2

1490 1A walk on the beach

1489The ‘golden glow’ effect of the sun on Bamburgh Castle


During reading week we have been given an additional task of exploring conceptualisation regarding our project proposal.

3-5 images are required based on subject matter, context and narrative and stylistic approach, the images of which should indicate a breadth of investigation rather than 3-5 images of the same object/subject/location from different vantage points. The work should be well exposed and focused and cropping should be done in camera rather than through Photoshop. Recording any development of your proposal that has occurred.

Concept: According to Freeman, 2011: 120, ‘conceptual ideas should drive photography, which is largely behind much contemporary fine art photographers‘. My photography project is being driven using a simple idea that establishes a framework in that it envisages and conceptualises in terms of location, positioning, composition, framing etc to make a scene beautiful. Ones perception of beauty be different, so this is very much a personal interpretation of the statement that the North of England can be and is a beautiful place but through meeting the challenge, I hope to convey what I believe to be beautiful, through the medium of photography to my audience.


My investigations have established a wide variety and breadth of taking photographs of the sunset/sunrise as the queries have been untaken in six places including another country and five other separate locations. I will be looking at the urban and rural environments of the North of England, West Yorkshire and an area of Europe (Spain). I have attempted to vary the composition taking the photograph from a variety of viewpoints – i.e. the mountainside, the urban street, a flat rural aspect and where the land meets water (both the sea and the lake) as a reflection in water. Therefore I have been noticing and citing geographical changes in the landscape and using an object (such as a person) to steer the light reflected by the sun) giving my photography a wide context and narrative in describing the landscape, its terrain and its natural habitat, The object of my overall proposal is to make the world look ‘a beautiful place’.

The stylistic approach has been to shoot low and high, alternating wherever possible, just as the sun is setting or when the sky is altered by colour thus dominating the landscape. I have adapted by learning and the cameras position with the use of a tripod to suit my needs and I have also utilised divergent thinking and techniques to capture shadow and form rather than the actual sunset in some instances, those evolving my compositions in terms of context, narrative, style and subject.

2046Sunset Reflections in a pool of water: Bamburgh Beach


Investigation for this project proposal has been different to others as I have had to investigate where to go on location to find the best images possible and use a variety of creative ideas to give a unique style to my work. I have additionally looked into how best to technically capture the images (see research folder for more details) examining the technical know how of other professionals working in the field i.e. Joe Cornish.

Technical Research: In Cornish’s book First Light: A Landscape Photographers Art he cites: ‘A landscape photographers primary objective is to be a faithful witness to nature’ but he questions what is authentic colour (as it is measured in degrees Kelvin). In open shade lit by a clear blue sky for example, ‘film’ will measure the 5500 degrees Kelvin (which is equal to balanced daylight), therefore an unfiltered landscape will suffer from blue, cold tones, even in sunlit areas, which could be at odds with the way we remember it. With light balancing filters and a little experience we can recreate the colour to what we believe to be true.

According to Bate (2009:140) citing Victor Burgin ”Conceptual art can be a photograph that exercises a number of options i.e. plane of focus, shutter speed, aperture, framing, angle and so on, or you can start from the narrative considering representation.”

He continues to state that concept for him is equally as valid as technical ability, however, as I will be investigating the use of using an ND filter to assist with my composition, thus increasing my technical ability. (see Saltburn Sunset in my research folder: et al, 24), so I will be making comparisons to theorize the validity of that statement. However, during my research into graduation filters, I have discovered that the Lee (which appear to be superior to the Cokin series: – colour casting reporting – reading Comments on Amazon), I will need to save up for these and acquire them after my visit to Bamburgh. However the Hitech 85 ND grad may be a reasonable alternative.

Areas of consideration:

Bamburgh Castle and Seahouses – Northumberland

1476My own reflection on the beach with camera and tripod: Bamburgh Beach

Embsay Reservoir, Skipton – West Yorkshire

Bradford (my own urban environment) and Ilkley (The Cow and Calf Rocks)

  • In considering my own home environment, I have responded to Cornish’s book: First Light – A Landscape Photographer’s Art: No Place Like Home. (1997:122)

most people associate their home with some sort of landmark or feature. It might be a cathedral, bridge or even a factory chimney. The landmark will inspire reassurance and local pride after spotting it on a return journey which kindles a strong feeling of ”being home at last”.

For Joe it’s Roseberry Topping near Ayton in North Yorkshire, for me its Bamburgh in Northumberland (where I grew up) and subsequently my second adopted home of Bradford.

Additionally I know and love:

Saltburn, North Yorkshire

Andalucia (Spain)


What were my aims and have I achieved them?

My aims for this part of my work are complex. They were to gain technical know how, take a series of photographs that captured an essence of my childhood in Northumberland, attempt to say something about the spiritual in photography and carry out taking a series of landscape photographs by making a variety of test shots conceptualised through the landscape but by additionally establishing that location is part of concept for a landscape photographer.

As the concept of these photographs was derived by looking at my childhood, the location had to become a part of the concept. Depicting water in a lot of the photographs I took became part of who I am as a person (i.e. emotional, passionate about my subject, spiritual etc), the sunrise and sunsets were taken for a similar reason as I had a wonderful childhood in many ways, I wanted to portray some of the happiness I remember but also some of the sadness of separation I felt as I was adopted. I have attempted to convey that in the colour of the sky or in the isolated figures on the beaches were I grew up. I have felt alone at times during my life but never truly alone as I have a strong spiritual faith that I keep very private. I have attempted to convey some of this in my photographs by isolating subjects, in my use of colour and in the use of light and shade.

Overall it is difficult to convey this depth of meaning in my photography, however, my ultimate aim is to write a book/design a portfolio to put forward to others a sense of Christian spirituality told from the perspective of one individual which will be accompanied with artwork.

What have I done?

After establishing and acquiring the technical know how to improve on my landscape sunrise/sunset project, I have gathered a range of landscape photographs depicting my subject matter and subsequently evolving my conceptualisation ideas across a multitude of terrains. The photographs have been conceptualised by examining the different rural and urban environments documenting geographical changes capturing the sun or colour as an aesthetic which have been measured against the environment. The overall ideological and conceptual thinking to this project is to ensure that the viewer will regard the composition as aesthetically pleasing and that each composition will be used to promote the area where the photograph has been taken.

What have I got from it?

The concept of promoting my images will finally be established through carrying out research and approaching the appropriate tourist information offices and exhibition venues and additionally displaying my photographs online through alamy and through my own website. Additionally, where appropriate, I will be promoting my work through the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust.

2095Sunset at Bamburgh: where the beach meets the first house

2042 215131587 11583

St Aidan’s Church, Bamburgh: the effect of the sunrise coming up over the horizon to meet St Aidan’s Cross

1596Remember with love: 11th of November 2014 @ 1100hrs

What is next?

Exploring my aims further for the project and identifying and establishing my niche as a Landscape/Spiritual Photographer. (see aims overall above)

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