Unit 3: Contextual and cultural referencing in Art & Design

Intro: For Unit 3 i will be looking at 3 photographers 1 contemporary and 2 historical. The photographers that I have chosen are ones that are in line with what i aspire to be like and what i hope to achieve from my work. The three artists I have selected are mainly landscape photographers although some of them may have done other work in different subjects.

These photographers have greatly inspired my own work in landscapes.

 My blog aims to give a more in depth look at some of the photographers that have influenced my work and have inspired a generation of artists and photographers.

Ansel Adams

was an American pioneer in the world of film photography. He pushed new boundaries and new ways in creating photographic images using film. However, he did not start out doing photography straight away he first taught himself how to play the piano. It was not until he went on a trip to Yosemite National Park where he became fascinated by photography, and he began buying magazines and learning how to do darkroom techniques.

Adam's first break through to fame was a book called "Parmelian Prints of the High Sierras". The book was a portfolio of 18 silver gelatin photographic prints and had his very famous photo called "Monolith". Another photograph called "Face of Half Dome"  is one of my favourite images by him, and this is because it took him multiple tries to capture the mountain. He used a yellow filter at first, then realised he wouldn't get the outcome he wanted, for his last photo he switched it to a red filter to get the result he wanted. The reason why I love that story is because it tells us that as a photographer you have to be able to adapt to your surroundings and try to predict what to do next. 

Because of his knowledge on darkrooms and darkroom techniques he was able to create several of his own darkroom studios.In these he could use make shift items that could block out the light use a technique called burning which can either darken a part of the image or brighten it up. In his darkroom's he had giant projectors that enabled him to print large versions of his own work whilst other photographers at the time did not have access to such equipment. 

Ansel Adams described himself as not a literary man. He found it hard to write or talk about his feelings on subjects so he would express himself through his photography trying to show what he was thinking, creating a more personal layer in his work. 

Reason why I think people like Ansel Adams' work is because of the way the photography make you feel self-consciously small as if you were a child again, looking up at these giant mountains that toppled over you. This is because of how much detail he was able to put into his images for example how you could see the light shining off the white buildings in New Mexico and of the snow from the tips of the mountains.


Sir Don McCullin

is one of the best if not the best photographer at his craft and is probably one of the bravest photojournalist. He brought us overwhelming pictures of  poverty in London’s East End as well as capturing the horrors of wars in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. He was knighted in 2017 for his services to photography. He has win numerous awards for his work in photography.

Like many people he did not know what he wanted to be he was only focused on getting through each day. He then got the opportunity to join the RAF and requested to be in a photographic unit believing it to be easier and less of a military life. he was then transferred to Egypt where he learnt to use the darkroom spending two years in the region. At first he did not use the skills he had learnt until his friend requested him to photograph them. At the time, he's friends where in a gang and a rival gang started fighting them. during this fight a police officer tried to break up the fight instead ended up losing his life. Don McCullin had photographed the whole thing and took the pictures to the Observer new paper. This one incident sparked his enthusiasm as photography where he started learning what photography really means by buying magazines. 

Don McCullin is known as a war photographer but he loathed this term. When he started being in war zones he was excited and thrilled, thinking he was in a Hollywood film. In 1960 in a school in Biafra he saw hundreds of dying children and it was then he realised that this wasn't Hollywood this was people’s lifes. From that day, he decided to restructure his mind-set and no matter how brutal the images where he would use them to show people that we cannot allow this catastrophe to continue.

In the end doing war photography Don McCullin realised he didn't like any of his photographs because he couldn't see them as nothing more than making a name for himself out of the devastation of war preferring his landscape photography.

Personally, I understand what he means by this however I understand the importance of war photography and that an image can say a thousand words. I believe his war photographs had a significant impact in the way people saw war as the atrocity it is.

Don McCllin sadly suffered from flashbacks because of his experiences from working in war zones, however he has managed to find peace in the English countryside where he continues to do landscape photography. His landscape work is some of his best work still using film to document his work. The landscape images that he has created still have that eerie feeling of a battlefield that has just ended because of the way he composes his image through the use of light.

I love how in some of his images he makes the water reflective creating a mini illusion that the sky is on the ground. 


Peter Lik

Peter Lik is a photographer from Australia who lives and works in America. He has spent 30 years doing photography across America. He has published multiple books on landscape photography and is currently selling his collection of work on the "American Landscape" on his website.

Peter Lik’s family heritage has always played a big role in his life and photographic career. His parents were hardworking Czech immigrants who bravely voyaged to Australia in search of a better and free life. Growing up in Australia, Peter fell in love with photography at the age of 8 after taking his first photograph of a spiders web. Years later, in 1984, Peter would make his own voyage to America, where he became permanently enamored with the diverse beauty of all 50 United States.

Peter Lik is the recipient of numerous awards from various photography organisations and groups. Two of his most cherished awards are the ones given by the Australian Institute of Professional Photography and the Professional Photographers of America.

Peter Lik's 13 galleries of majestic landscape photography inhabit some of the nation's most beloved cities. From New York City to Los Angeles to the island of Maui. 

Peter is well know for large quality prints using Fujiflex silver-halide paper to print which increases the light sensitivity and glow. Unfortunately we do not know the process in which he presents his work. it is a closely guarded secret between him and his employees that he handpicks and trusts. He typically shoots panoramas with a Linhof 617 Technorama camera using Fuji film but he also uses a Nikon D800 with a 50 mm lens. 

Peter Liks work is truly astonishing with his calming colours that makes you feel like you are standing in the photograph, to the way he sets up a shoot that takes advantage of the low lighting. The reason why he's able to manage to capture such colours, such soft lighting is due to something called the golden hour this is the hour where the sun is setting or rising. You can see in his work that he uses a lot of leading lines whether it is man made structures or naturally forming you can always see it in most of his work. It is clear that his focus is to bring out the hidden beauty of our world.



In conclusion, learning and looking back at these photographers work and what inspired them, drove them, pushed them to become the best in their fields and how they have affected the industry has been an experience that I am thankful to them for. All three of them are experts in landscape photography but have unique techniques in creating their artworks.

For Ansel Adams he was a pioneer in landscape photographer leading the way for many others to fellow in his footsteps in creating beautiful photographs. His work has inspired many generations of photographers to try and become great photographers themselves. his experience with making his own darkroom allowed him to experiment with darkroom techniques and create unique pieces of work.

For Don McCullin his background in war photography which he blended into his landscape work has created beautiful area landscape photographs that look like the aftermath of a battle. Just like Ansel Adams, Don McCullin didn't come from an artistic background in fact neither of the three artists did but still all three of them became well-known photographers in this industry.

For Peter Lik showed me a modern take on Ansel Adams work using bright colours soft lighting and leading lines creating beautiful panoramic masterpieces. Just like Ansel Adams he traveled across America with nothing but a camera and a rusty old van however he now owns 13  galleries around the world, his own printing company and his own TV show called  "From the Edge With Peter Lik". Peter Lik showed me how important timing and patience is to get the perfect lighting for your photographs.