This was made on a recent early morning poodle walk with Ari and Kayla just before Easter. We were walking on a back country road in Waitpinga. It's all agricultural landscapes around this part of Waitpinga, with some roadside vegetation and a rows of eucalypts--mostly pink gums--between the various fenced paddocks. Though this is land seen in terms of property and its usefulness, you only occasionally see human beings working the land.
The sun burst through the cloud cover for a minute or so whilst we walking along a roadway. I didn't make it to the spot that I was aiming for (the two trees over the page). I had no time to set up the Linhof Technika 70 on a tripod, which was what I'd been hoping to do. It was either this handheld photo at this spot with the Sony-NEX-7 digital camera, or nothing.
The picture is a selfie, and it picks up on the idea of land dialogues. The picture was an attempt to incorporate bodies in the landscape so as to suggest the idea that we are part of the landscape, rather than standing outside it looking at it. We walk the roads and pathways in this regional landscape daily, and so we are immersed it, rather than being visitors quickly passing through it in a car.
The above picture is a topographical view of the landscape. It was the one I was planning to do as I imagined Samuel White Sweet would have photographed it. Sweet, despite doing a lot of landscapes (as views) didn't do that much work around Victor Harbor, or along the southern Fleurieu Peninsula. The golden hour time of the day (early morning) is different as 19th-century views photography most often took place during midday in order to maximize what were then much longer exposure times as well as to facilitate transportation of heavy camera, film plates, and tripod equipment by horse-drawn cart over difficult terrain.
A topographical view of the landscape,on my understanding, is a representation of the landscape that lies between pictures and maps to the point of being a view from nowhere. Traditionally, the topographical view in colonial times (in both painting and then photography) refers to a more or less accurate, exactly depicted pictorial representation of a given landscape. Photographic representation has traditionally been understood as machine made (as opposed to hand made) and it has identified with isomorphic representation. We expect transparency in terms of what the photograph is a picture --the aim is to make as transparent a window as possible, so that the viewer can be taken straight into the scene and immersed in the scene.
What is downplayed on this account of photographic representation are the artistic conventions used to make the picture and the cultural conventions projected onto the land, or more generally, the idea that photography is subject to the biases and historical conditions of its making and its maker. An example is the Picturesque and other forms of idealised landscape art. Representations of the landscape are visual texts.
European Romanticism called into question both the accuracy of pictorial representation and its function to convey information to the viewer. In the art world the topographic perspective is seen as naive and as signifying artistic degeneration. The representations are views not landscapes. With Casper David Friedrich there is a shift to contemplative allegorical landscapes and to the psychological, emotional and imaginative.
Topographical views are views of places that have been modified by who has owned them and who has worked them, by who inhabits them and who visits them. They help is to understand a place as contested sites, places over which different interests assert different claims.