I was recently re-reading a short article published in LensWork 51 by North Carolina-based photographer Joe Lipka entitled Photographing the Not-So Grand Landscape. In it, he contrasts the grand landscapes of the American west with the approach he adopted to photographing the ‘small landscape’ of Carpenter, North Carolina – one more akin to documentary photography, questioning where one ends and the other begins.
The article was an interesting read as most of my recent landscape photography has been within a short drive of home. Few, if any, of the locations I’m visiting could be described as ‘grand’ or even ‘iconic’ though some might just make the description of being quirky. I’ve revisited locations multiple times, at different times of day and in different weather conditions, when they are busier and when they are quiet. It has given me the chance to play with different compositions and lighting.
It may not be the Lake District or Scotland, but exploring my local area has given me a better understanding of the photographic opportunities it presents in terms of landscape and its rich heritage. Rutland is the UK’s smallest county and its landscape of broad, rolling ridges and secluded valleys has a quiet, remote and rural character with small villages and scattered farms. It is criss-crossed by a network of narrow country lanes, tracks and footpaths interspersed by small thickets, copses and woodlands, some of them ancient remnants of once larger forests. At its centre is Rutland Water, one of Europe’s largest artificial lakes. Rutland’s moto Multum in Parvo, “much in little” seems rather appropriate for a focus on the Not-So Grand landscape.