Art is very liberal since there are no strict rules. Anybody or everybody can share her or his point of view without being completely right or wrong. Artists are free to create art in its own creative way.Is art a true personal expression?
As the story goes, there are plenty of people to agree and disagree with this statement. Of course, each one of them can have valid points. When I look at contemporary landscape photography I can see certain common elements.Artists learn from experiences of other artists:• An artisan may say I am not familiar with work of any artist before me or study art books; therefore my art is just my personal expression.• This opinion may be deceiving despite being truthful. When we are young we read books with a lot of pictures. Through life we watch movies, read magazines and spend time on internet looking at a lot of pictures. So we adopt visual preferences without noticing them. As a result our personal expression becomes influenced.Artist’s work is influenced by times that he or she lives in:• Again, one can say I don’t care what people think, it is just my personal expression. Imagine you were youth living with your parents, and they think your activity is not worth of your time or not in line with trends in the society. You may be told to focus on other activities. In some other circumstances, the parents may like your activity and encourage you to spend more time doing it. So, our personal style is influenced by our audience whoever they are.• As a result, the time has an invisible time stamp on works of art. When I watch an old movie, I can guess a decade when it was created. Not just by technological props featured in the movie but by a style of acting.The art style that we like now days in landscape photography started about 2600 years ago:• It is hard to believe. This was the time when Classical Greeks started using composition for their works of art.• Classical Greeks explained it as “rendering the subject in perfect proportions”. So the intent is not to present the subject for real value, but to enhance it.• When we look at contemporary landscape images we admire the landscape. Sometimes we visit the place from the picture; on our disappointment we notice that it is not the same as on the image. The artist made it prettier than actually is, which is in accordance with the Classical Greek philosophy.Not everything is based on the Greek style either:• During classical times, different shades and gradations of paint like we have today were not available. • Besides, Classical Greeks had a different taste for colors.Color palettes that we use today are not an invention of our time:• When technological innovations allow for many shades of paint, and to make it easier to carry, artist started going outdoors to paint. We know them as Impressionists. They invented color palettes that we use today. Of course, we add some personal touch to them when creating our own works of art.• One can ask, why mentioning colors since a camera records the colors as they are. The photographer has very little input.• It is true, but we can slightly change the colors in post processing to match our personal style. I am not saying change color of apples in blue, but we can tweak them from dull red to attractive red. And then we can tweak green color of leaves, beside the red apples, to match some color palette. As well as, we can choose time of the year (fall colors), time of the day (sunrise) to get some other nice colors.To conclude, art is combination of unique expression of the artist, the time we live in and past experiences:• We don’t know who invented the first wheel, but we use it as a part of our heritage. This analogy may be applied to past artistic influences. The composition might be invented earlier by Egyptians, who did not have artistic freedom of expression. On the other hand, Greeks introduced it to their main stream culture, and took credit for it. Whatever may be the case, the art of today builds on past experiences. • Each time period has different social trends. Landscape photography styles are slower to change. Although, we can determine time frame of the work by process used in its creation, since photography is dependent on technological advances. 19th century landscape photography was imitating paintings and had blurred look. 20th century landscape photography focused on its strengths in sharpness, subtle tones and accurate perspective. 21st century photography becomes on equal terms with other visual arts since the medium lost limitations from the past. The style is dominating with beautiful colors and digital manipulations.Composition:
Finally let’s talk about composition. Once you learn about composition you will learn that so many images on different public media use it. Some artisans use it without even knowing that they are using it. They try to imitate that perfect picture that they have in their minds, and to do so they position camera in certain way. Bellow are listed the basic rules of composition:1) Rule of Thirds
A photograph is more appealing if its main line is in accordance with the rule of thirds.
Which one of these diagrams to apply? It depends on the situation in the field. I would use the first one if I have some nice flowers in the foreground, while the second one would be more appropriate if I have some nice cloud formations.2) Golden rule
The best places to put the main subject of the image are at the intersection of the lines which divide image into thirds.
Points 1 to 4 are the best places for the main subject to be placed. Most of the time use one of the 4 points. For best effect, for a landscape composition, place some distinguishable element at point 1 (i.e. Rock, bush, flowers …).3) Perspective
Since the photograph is in one plane, to make image more interesting the photographer needs to show the third dimension such as, depth and distance. The sense of depth one can emulate by showing similar objects in the foreground and background. The first tree in the diagram takes the biggest area in the image and the last one the smallest area of the image, assuming the trees are the same size in reality. This effect one can get, as well, by showing a creek, road or some other object with known width. The objects will converge in the distance as shown on the diagram.
Well, one can say this does not make any sense; I cannot move trees or alter location of a river to create my composition.• Typically we do not add the elements in the post processing either. I tried it but it is too much effort.• If we cannot move a tree, the only option left is to move the camera. We need to scout the area for promising composition.• This is the reason why guides in national parks sometimes offer tours to places with beautiful composition where famous shots were taken.
As one gets more into photography the rules get more diverse and complex. One of life’s best ironies is once you have learned most of the rules; you might need to break them in order to show a unique perspective.