The photographs taken as “landscape photographs” really are not what was in front of the camera at all. Well, they are what was in front of the camera but that’s about it. Even if someone is a “straight photographer” and doesn’t do much more than develop the film and make non manipulated prints ( whatever that means ) from the negatives they are an interpretation of what was there in front of the camera. The camera clicks it lets light in and out of the lens and the impression is put on something—a piece of film, paper, collodion and silver, sensor, whatever, but that’s about the end of the “non manipulating”
As soon as that happens, the impression, it is interpreted by chemistry or a processor. It becomes something more than an impression, it is “developed”. As a digital file there is “post production”. as a negative there is interpretation of the negative to make the 2nd exposure on paper, film, or whatever. Even an automated mini lab makes an interpretation. It reads the film and makes a print like a darkroom worker makes test strips and a print or something more than a “straight print”.
Every print is an image that is interpreted, and re-imagined whether it is a straight contact print or a different extreme, an image that uses the negative as kindling or a log for a campfire.
I’ve been re-imagining landscapes for as long as I have photographed what was in front of the camera’s lens. Sometimes I did this without knowing it, other times, I knew what I was doing but held back. I’ve started to not hold back these days, and let the print tell me when it was time to stop. n
Before I go on, these things I have been saying about landscapes can be said about anything that is in front of a camera’s lens – a building, the ocean, grass and rocks, a car, bottle caps, even photographs of people, it doesn’t matter. Everything has been altered for good or for bad, and it has to be altered through chemical or electrical means. Im not a judge and I really don’t have an opinion about what constitutes a good photograph or a bad one, they’re all photographs and that is all that matters.
While I did no gymnastics the my choice of developer, the paper and contrast grade or filter, my burning and dodging that made this “believable” as an overcast winter’s day with snow were all done to interpret what I had on the negative.
I deliberately developed color slide film in coffee developer, scanned the negative, removed the blue cast, dodged, burned, adjusted the contrast and merged two separate files to create a photograph that existed in my mind, a re-imagined landscape.