Reflection – Cloudscapes

In part 1 of the course, we looked at Alfred Stieglitz’s cloudscapes, The Equivalents in terms of composition and framing. The course notes say, of his photographs, ‘they don’t appear to be composed at all; instead they are ‘equivalent’ in that any section of the sky would seem to do as well as any other. Because there is no sense of composition our eye is drawn to the edges’. (p27) The images are cropped rather than composed.

I recall reading that on being asked if his images were of the sky, Stieglitz asked why it matters at all what they were of (I am unable now to reference this). I understand his intention to create an abstract image in its own right, not a reflection of reality.

I attempted some cloudscapes myself, to observe my process of identifying which part of the sky to photograph and to consider whether I felt that that my images had anything to do with the reality of the view I captured.

I chose this part of the sky for the heaviness of the clouds, in an attempt to create a very abstract image. It is clearly sky. However, in a second image, converted to mono, this is less obvious.

My experience of the sky, while taking these images was of being drawn in to the view and of appreciating the beauty of the whole sky because, with a movement of my head and eyes, I could see it all. My view was not constrained by a frame or an edge, except for the horizon, and this sense of space is clearly absent from my photographs. They are a poor record of the reality of the scene, and interesting for that fact.

I took the following image in an experiment to include a sense of depth to my cloudscape:

I took this image while standing rather than laying down. It has made a difference though it is difficult to say exactly how. The clouds in this patch of sky were more linear and as such, there appears to be a sense of viewing from the side rather than from below.

My conclusion is that these images are not representative of my viewing the sky in reality. They are segments of a whole and I could have pointed my camera at any patch of sky that day, with the same result.



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