at Magpie Springs

This outtake from a photoshoot at Magpie Springs  in early autumn 2015  highlights how the little details  on the land that are usually overlooked can make a subject for a photograph. It is a photo of natural decay that is outside  the 18th and 19th century tradition of English rustic landscape painting, which in Australia, would become paintings of rural Australia featuring farmland, country lanes and river scenes. 

Rustic landscapes do not depict a famous spot, view or monument; rather their intention  is to represent the countryside and rural life. They do so in an idealising manner. It's an ideal landscape  exempted in the pictures of wineries, food and colonial architecture designed in a picturesque setting for  the tourist with taste who  is able to view, and describe  the land in terms of pictures.  

These would be pastoral landscapes as they both celebrate the dominion of mankind over nature and the scenes depicted  are peaceful, often depicting ripe harvests, lovely gardens, manicured lawns with broad vistas, and fattened livestock. The settlers  has developed and tamed the landscape – it yields the necessities we need to live, as well as beauty and safety. 

The Picturesque refers to the charm of discovering the landscape in its natural state---beauty created solely by Nature. The artist and the viewer delight in unspoiled panoramas: sunsets behind majestic mountains, an egret taking off from a quiet marsh, a kangaroo  bathed in a shaft of light in the woods. These scenes are uplifting, but not frightening. This refers to the national parks. 

When they are frightening ---wild nature at its most fearsome--then the images belong to the sublime. The Australian wilderness has gradually been transformed from a sublime landscape into a series of picturesque scenes.

The sublime vistas that staggered the imagi­nations of early settlers in a sense no longer exist. The feeling of awe that is inspired by a “ sublime” scene depends on the spectator’s sense of its domi­nant power and its ability to call forth a visionary grasp of infinity. The Australian  wilderness, however, has been gradually reduced and circum­scribed until it no longer seems to stretch into infinity, but is contained and controlled within established boundaries of national parks. 

The park appears to be a natural wilderness-- sustain the illusion of a natural, primeval state and  emblematize a vanished past, presenting a perfect picture of the  Australian wilderness that needed to be protected before it was lost to economic cdevelopment. All the major environmental groups depend on selling an attractive vision of nature--the way to promote nature is to illustrate its pictur­esque beauty.