Although a significant part of her work has a documentary style, in terms of her campaigning for footpaths to be accessible, I found a few photographs taken in Scotland and one image taken in Skye in Our Forbidden Land (1990). The image taken in the Cuillin Hills, where I gain my inspiration, is similar to my images, focusing on texture and shape and the atmospheric clouds that often hang over the hills.
Godwin uses the full tonal range from white to black and captures dark shadows and sparkling light. I think there is a lot more for me to learn from her and I will continue to research her work.
I was also inspired by our discussions in the Webinar this week. I was pushed to be clear about what I want to say about The Road to Elgol – what is my statement? I was encouraged to be curious in my photography and to go “off grid” and leave the road behind – something I had done on my most recent visit to Skye, when I explored with some success, the clearance village of Borreraig. It was also suggested that I should search to find the “abnormal in the normal” and to try different aspects in order to break away from convention in my work and that of others. I should concentrate on light, colour and framing.
I had been asked to show some of my colour images of the Road and chose the images below:
The group looking at my images soon identified the first photograph as being “iconic”. Interestingly, this is my favourite image taken on the Road and the one that kicked off this project. I return to this view every time I visit Skye to try to gain a different shot or perspective. I need to capture again the vulnerability of man within this vast natural environment and the sense of fear and foreboding I experience as I gaze at these Black Cuillin hills.
My tutor encouraged me to keep to the aspect ratio of this image for future images as it added to the scale of the subject. Others remarked about the tension in this image between the foreboding hills and the little house nestled underneath them and the sense of isolation it evoked.
Most of my colleagues mentioned that they were drawn to the de-saturated colour images of the little house and the reed beds, although they are only de-saturated in terms of the colour being natural in the winter season. This approach fits in very well with my intention not to take the heavily saturated tourist images that other photographers on the Island make. Having gained this advice I reworked an image taken elsewhere in Skye:
It was also suggested that my work could be displayed in a book (rather than an exhibition) with the possibility to add poetry alongside. This is an interesting suggestion as Fay Godwin does the same in her book Our Forbidden Landscape.
As a consequence of our discussions I will be doing more work on looking for possible de-saturated images.
Question for my followers
In the meantime I would like to engage my followers in a little bit of work. I wonder whether you would look at the three different versions of “The Little House in the Cuillin” below and reply telling me which of the three you like the best?
Godwin, F (1990) Our Forbidden Landscape, Jonathan Cape, London
Godwin, F (1983), Fay Godwin Landscape Photographs, The British Council, London
I prefer the first as I think the wee bit of color adds to the drama and emphasises the contrast to the mountain and its stark appearance and harsh environment. It is the interface between those two spaces that is of interest to me. The monochrome masks that and while it is dramatic in its own way I find it less interesting. The cropped version loses the grandeur and scale that for me makes the photo.
Many thanks for commenting on the images. I am starting to feel the same.
Prefer B&W landscape
Many thanks for responding about the images. It is neck and neck at the moment.