The phrase, “landscape photography” may bring to mind images of the remote, wild, and sublime; photographs rooted in the tradition of Ansel Adams, Eadweard Muybridge, and William Henry Jackson. Lately, I have been thinking more in the tradition of the other great landscape photographer named Adams … Robert Adams … and photography of the man-altered landscape. The ideal of landscape honored in the past often focused on scenes seemingly untouched by the presence of man. Robert Adams championed the concept of photography that depicts how man’s hand changes the landscape; in other words, the landscapes we all live with and see every day rather than a landscape most of the world can only see in a fantasy or Ansel Adams photograph.
This week, I have been looking at fences and railings in and around my part of the world (Burlington, Vermont, USA). Fences and railings have a profound impact on how we use and see a landscape. Visit Yosemite Park to try and find those views you saw in Ansel Adams’ images, and fences will carefully control how most people move and see the landscape there (and the Yosemite Valley, by the way, is most definitely a man-altered landscape, as are most of the paths people follow through any National or State Park). Fences and railings control, direct, prohibit, limit, suggest, urge, decorate, protect, explain, organize, disguise, pretend, obscure, reveal, support, enclose, guard, encompass, and communicate.
Here are fences and rails from in and around my town.