In 1975 an exhibition named New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape was held in the International Museum of Photography in New York City. It featured works by a number of photographers – the Americans Robert Adams, Lewis Baltz, Joe Deal, Frank Gohlke, Nicholas Nixon, John Schott, Stephen Shore, and Henry Wessel, Jr., and the German couple Bernd and Hilla Becher. Each photographer exhibited 10 photographs.
New Topographics presented a different way of photographing landscapes, eschewing the traditional natural environments and instead presenting images of scenes with a clear human footprint, such as industry, suburbia, gas stations, parking lots and the like.
While I only came across the term in recent years, and at no point set out to be a “new topographer”, it’s clear that many of my photographs fall into the style. I’ve no doubt found influence in the works of photographers who were in turn influenced by the works of the artists presented in the original exhibition, although of the ten, I only have photobooks by Stephen Shore (though there are undoubtedly works by the others collected in other books in my collection).
It’s a style that doesn’t appeal to all. For many, the subjects of such photographs are ruinous blots on the landscape, detracting and imposing on the traditional bucolic scenes more often considered as landscape photography. But I have a place in my heart for both.
Grass fields and blue lakes Overlooked by new homes It was once a mine
There are two lines of pylons not too far from where I live. Both originate at a sub-station at Canklow and follow the same path for a few miles before branching apart at Swallownest. The eastern lines head past Rother Valley Country Park and then pace the Trans Pennine Trail south towards Chesterfield. The western lines head up towards Drakehouse and Owlthorpe, then across the golf course at Birley before heading out over the Moss Valley to terminate at Norton near the water tower.
Today’s photos show this second set of lines as they cross the Rother valley through the mist.
From out of the mist Cables of steel cross the land Headed for Norton
The first day of my long weekend and I feel I’ve achieved little. Well little of what I wanted to do anyway. Instead I’ve been caught up in things I had to do, which are usually not the same.
I had to take our cat to the vets for his annual booster vaccination but there was a delay and I ended up waiting 25 minutes past the appointment time. Due to Covid you have to phone the surgery upon arrival and then wait in your car until it’s time for the vet to see you, whereupon they come out, take your animal from you, and whisk it into the surgery for treatment. I had plenty of time for a good conversation with our cat, who was quite vocal in the car. I suspect he was just moaning about the delay though.
Once I got home, I had to then drive out to pick up some groceries with my wife. Once a month or so we go to a discount supermarket open to employees of certain organaisations such as the police, NHS, some supermarkets and others. Normally this is a relatively quick run up the motorway but today I had to make a detour into town to pick up some anchor bolts from the nearest branch of Screwfix that had them in stock. This added some time onto the journey, and then further time was needed to get some lunch – a drive-thru Burger King saw to this. Arriving at the supermarket we were greeted by a very long queue. There’s normally a bit of a queue to get in, but this time it was much bigger than usual. Again more time was sliced from my day.
When we got home I had to start looking at the pull-up bar that my son has bought as part of his exercise regime. Well, we’ve bought it for him is more accurate. There’s nowhere suitable to fit it indoors, so it’ll need to go on an outside wall instead, which is why I needsed the anchor bolts. I’d hoped to get it fitted today but by the time I’d put the piece of equipment together it was time to eat and I didn’t fancy having to start drilling the wall after that, so the chore has now rolled over to tomorrow.
I really hate chores They get in the way of things That make me happy
A quick count shows that I have 32 posts in my blog that have been tagged with “power lines”. I would have expected it to be much higher than that as I feel that I post a lot of images of, or featuring, power lines, pylons, and similar things. It could be that some are untagged, or tagged with “pylon” and not “Power lines”, which might bump up the count a bit though.
Anyway, that counter will tick up another notch today as – you guessed it – it’s a photo of some power lines!
I like this one – theres a leading line from the foreground pole, across the field of grass and rushes, and over to the pylon. There’s a stray street-light in there too, photo-bombing his electricity-carrying buddies.
Powerlines again A draw to my camera Many times before
This track runs parallel to the Trans Pennine Way for a while and the section depicted is open for public access. The remainder of the track leads up to the farm itself and has no further right of way. I know this because I once walked all the way to the end without realising. And then had to walk all the way back again.
I really like how this picture turned out. It looked nice in the viewfinder with all the leading lines, and the end result doesn’t disappoint me. Probably my favourite shot of the year so far.
Country road power Leading the eye down the way To places unseen
A shot that might have been better in colour had I had the opportunity. I think the blue sky and the sunlit brown of the dead bracken at the bottom of the frame would have worked nicely together. I still quite like it in mono though. The branches frame the pylon well.
A gap in the trees Framing a nearby pylon Standing in the sun
A few days ago I said that there would be another version of the shot posted there to come. And here it is today. This one was made with the GW690 and on a snowy day to boot. I wasn’t sure if the minor parallax difference that would be present from using the rangefinder viewfinder would mess up my alignment of the pylons but it seems to have worked out fine.
Through the winter sky Cables of steel move power Over frozen ground
I’ve posted a similar image to this one before as part of my experiences with a Zeiss 6×9 folder last year. And I shall be posting another before too long – again with a 6×9 camera from almost the same spot and composition (but not conditions, and without the faultily aligned lens issue). There’s certainly no shortage of power line / pylon photos in the blog, and I guess they’ll continue to turn up with a degree of frequency as long as it runs, but I like the particular point of view in this image because the structures are aligned as far as the eye can see.
Play Safe they told us Children of the recent past Danger in power
This pollarded willow tree sits at the southern end of Woodhouse Washlands close to the A57 flyover (in fact, you can see the shadow of the flyover at the base of this image – I thought about cropping it out, but it would take the foot of the tree closer to the edge of the frame than I’d like). The field was pretty muddy and had a considerable number of cow pats deposited about on the day so I decided to use the zoom lens to get me closer. While it may not be to everyone’s taste, I like the contrast of the fields and trees on the left with the industry of the pylons and factory units to the right. The track fills the gap at bottom right nicely too.
Pollarding cuts trees off at height, not at the base as coppicing does
It’s one of those days where I can think of little to say. I’ve found a photo to publish and written one of my (likely not very good) haikus, but otherwise I’m suffering from a brain full of tumbleweed. So I’ll leave it at that and hope normal service resumes shortly.
If you look up close See a small figure crossing And heading downhill