landscape and lens ‘residency’ (day 1 to 5)

lens versus eye – an iso series (day 1: landscape and lens ‘residency’)

creating a ‘residency’: after revisiting my PPP, i have been thinking about creating my own residency because so many residences that i’ve researched either don’t suit my  available time frame due to work commitments or do not suit the kind of exploratory making i want to do related to landscape and the lens. so…. as i am down in tipperary for a week over the easter, i thought i would set up my own ‘residency’ – simply to do some exploratory making related to lens and the landscape. my ‘residency’ brief is pretty simple; respond to the landscape through the lens in some way every day. while there are lots of ideas going around in my head which i would like to try, i also want to be spontaneous and am open to just see what happens. the area of tipperary for this ‘residency’ is a place i visit a lot and have been gathering footage and making work here on and off over the last 6 years or so. it is a place with lots of family connections and, in terms of its physical landscape, it is close to the woods and galtee mountains which i walk almost everyday. i could probably trace my interest in landscape from my time spent here – drawn to walking the woods and mountains with my camera. i think that i could achieve a lot by simply making some exploratory gesture every day and this type of self-directed ‘residency’ could also become a useful way to work in other places in the future.

day 1: i have been doing so much research reading and writing about the lens as an embodied practice – how the lens directly connects to the body and how the lens mimics the actions of the eye – a point of contact rather than separation etc or as artist Charlotte Prodger says ‘bodily systems are enmeshed with the camera” (cited in Luke, 2018). this link between lens and body has been my thesis for my contextual study and what do you know – by accident my first response to the landscape through the lens almost contradicts this – where the eye sees differently to what the lens captures (see ISO series below). so already i think working spontaneously is going to be helpful and exciting – throwing up the unexpected.

lens versus eye: an iso series: i took of early this morning to climb galtee mór. as i was taking one of my first shots i switched to manual mode and decided to try to find the best iso setting to capture the kind of colour i was seeing. by accident i changed the iso setting (sensitivity light sensor) to a very high setting – ISO 3200 and i was really struck by the discrepancies of what i was seeing  through my eye and what the lens was seeing or capturing. the idea that the lens is part of an embodied practice relates to the movement and working of the body yet is really a technological device all the same – one that can ‘see’ what the human eye cannot sometimes and one that can also ‘not see’ what the human eye can see. i continued to work with this high ISO setting for the rest of the walking climb up galtee mór. what i found interesting was the information that is not there – details, colours, shapes, textures that i saw but are absent in the image capture – like this needs to be filled in maybe with the mind’s eye. this feels very different from editing them out through colour bleaching adjustments of colour levels through photoshop because the visual information is not there and does not exist – its absence is part of the lens and landscape experience not a post production process. this ties in with some things i have been grappling with in terms of the landscape as image versus the landscape as experience and asks – where does the lens sit in this relationship? it also ties in with something i have been thinking in relation to my CMYK printing process where i have been inclined to leave one of the colour separation layers out so as not to give all the information – maybe to allow the eye to fill in or be more active to the making and viewing of an image. anyway – here are most of the images i took today …








ISO 3200 series

further reflection: i  think i need to print these images to see how the captured image prints on paper. i think it might also be interesting to screen print them and see them as a bitmap texture. i feel the images might need to be large – maybe project them and add a narrative? lots of ‘more ideas’! i can’t help thinking about the retina of the human eye when i see these images for some reason, maybe because the image shows the camera sensor image had too much light and reminds me of how an image hits the retina of my eye. i wonder then if they could also be viewed upside down because that is the way the image hits the human retina? something else to think about in my lens work – print and video also.

postscript (may 19): i think i might try to test these images with an audience somehow  – i came across an ‘open call’ for an exhibition of landscape images – lets see how they fair out.

landscape: framed by the framer (day 2: landscape and lens ‘residency’)

day 2: for day two I took off up the galtee mountains again and, like yesterday, my exploratory work started in an unplanned way. as well as thinking about landscape and lens, i wanted to take a quick selfie on the mountains for a Facebook post. again I was struck by the idea myself as framer of the landscape and thought that this might be worth exploring in some way on my hike.

landscape: framed and framer: so … continuing to frame the landscape as i usually do, i also changed the camera to selfie mode and also recorded myself as framer and at the position it the landscape image was framed. as the process continued i became increasingly aware of how my framing might reflect back on me as i took the shot and found myself adjusting my position a little. initially I thought that they might work well together in pairs as they are quite contrasting in terms of formal and informal composition – linking into ideas i have been thinking about relating to real and idealised  notions of landscape – especially in an irish context where images of an idealised  landscape has a long history in the formation of national identity. i am now thinking that they might work also as a series of framers – maybe because they are odd images and might raise questions about why the images are framed at the odd angle shots with hands and and glimpses of the body in the landscape … here are some of the images

landscape: framed and framer

landscape framer

further reflection: i am reminded of Ingrid Pollard’s Pastoral Interludes which shows herself as a black female figure in an ‘idyllic’ English rural landscape. in my selfie series, as photographer present in the landscape, it inevitably raises questions about body, gender and identity and, perhaps like Pollard, a sense of where and how we belonging and behave in the landscape.

handshake landscape handscape landshake: a shutter speed series (day 3: landscape and lens ‘residency’)

day 3: i went up to the woods today, with a plan this time. returning to the action of the camera again but this time to explore or maybe reinforce the lens as an embodied practice by changing one of its technical aspects which directly links to the action of the body – the shutter speed. there were a few ways i wanted to explore landscape, lens and body through the shutter speed – letting the camera record the moving landscape from a still position or let the camera move as the body moves and record a relatively still landscape. i opted for the second on this relatively calm day and within this i experimented with slight hand shake and then moving to more gross motor movements such as jumping and swinging. i brought the shutter speed down to a very slow 1/10 seconds. here are a sample of the many images of today.

running jump series

reflection: these images reinforce the lens as an embodied practice – although i suppose the camera could have been shaken by non-body means. i am struck by the painterly way the camera caught the action of body as it moved the camera at the moment of capture. some of my images even look like charcoal drawings – perhaps that ‘haptic’ quality of a hand drawn line is from the handshake – reminding me of the passage i read of Tim Ingold’s description of the quality of the ‘haptic’ hand drawn line versus the mechanical or digital one. i wonder how this type of image would translate as screen prints? worth a try. i think the less forced movements work best – i am also reminded of the handshake ‘mistakes’ in analogue photography days which i rarely see anymore with delete and editing now easily available in digital, or red-eye for that matter and these rarely make it to print so that’s why print might be an interesting next step – a very involved process in making a ‘mistake’ image. the sky was really bright today and, although sunny, there was an even white haze which probably adds to their drawing quality on a paper page. i also like these as uncluttered images but i would also like to try slow shutter image making in other weather conditions – with clouds and darker sky backgrounds adding colour and texture to the image. and finally – i must have taken over 50 images – gone are the days of 24 or 36 shot rolls – might that be a parameter to work within?

postscript: i have just signed up for a print exchange in the US with the idea of using  either one of my handshake or ISO images as a starting point for a print edition. due in late July – a good way to start exploring and not put it off.

frame & framed: analogue versus digital technology (day 4: landscape & lens ‘residency’)

day four: we are having such beautiful weather here at the moment that it’s not hard to put in a few hours exploratory making on the mountains. today i got up early and headed for lake muskry in the galtee mountains as i wanted to avoid other walkers incase i wanted to film. i also guessed my analogue ‘polaroid’ camera might be slow work and just didn’t want the hassle of people about. i took my polaroid instax camera with me as well as my DSLR and phone as i wasn’t really sure what i would be doing exactly. the polaroid camera is a clunky camera and limited in terms of settings: i can change the focal range slightly between 0-35mm and 35+ mm and i can also change the ISO from light, medium and dark and that’s about it. the film comes in boxes of 10 and roughly one euro each so this sits really well with where i ended up yesterday thinking i should set analogue parameters of how many shots to take (24 or 36) because i was getting bogged down by all this material. so with such small possibilities i had to shoot today with some degree of consideration and selection.

analogue versus digital: from the very first image that i took today with my polaroid camera i became really excited by the image emerging in front of me as the instax photographic paper developed. i remember feeling this way when i developed my own negatives and film and something i hope to return to over the summer when i stock up on the equipment. delighted with the visible process of image developing i decided to film every shot i took. this might be something i will edit into a video and series of takes. with limited settings on the camera, the images varied from over to under exposure but i think that this is part of the charming quality of this analogue process. i was also interested in the way the landscape was being framed there and then as an image which i could hold up to the landscape and compare image and reality or experience out in the open of this landscape time and space. this was something i also recorded as images using my phone – again a mixture of analogue and digital processes. as it was windy, the only way to align the image to the landscape was by holding the photo in my hand so bringing landscape, body and image together. anyway… here are some images from today – a limited edition i suppose.

refection: like screen printing, there is something exciting about physically making an image and seeing the image take shape in front of me. it reminds me of my intention to try and take up my analogue 35mm processing and developing again. i think today helps me connect image with the experience of the landscape too and was aware of the framing of it and the framing of this frame also. the limits of the Polaroid camera also meant that what i saw through the viewfinder was not exactly what i got – like the binocular vision i am exploring in my stereograph series. and as ever, i always feel a good making day is one where i have more thing I want to try from this making and look forward to seeing how the film footage takes shape. ‘footage’ just thought now how that term connects lens and body. to finish, i came across a lovely quote by the film-maker, Abbas Kiarostami, saying something about how we don’t see something until it’s framed. must see if i can track that quote down.

postscript: the quote is in the opening of one of Kiarostami’s short films ’24 frames’ – “I’ve often noticed that we are not able to notice what we have in front of us, unless it’s inside a frame” (2017). i came across his work when i was looking through some video and experimental film ‘open calls’. there seems to be genre for ‘slow films’. i looked into a few of these ‘slow film’ artists and really like their approach to the everyday in terms of time and space. i also identify with their underuse of editing which is something i also try to avoid – ‘a less is more’ approach to my video work. i think this stems from my analogue photography days where the more you got right at the time of capture the less you had to try and do in editing, saving time and frustration. i looked through some of my video footage of the polaroid developing and they were mostly un focused due to the close range or blew away during filming. i think that they could be interesting as a short film sequence so i intend to undertake this video again, maybe starting with ‘back garden as landscape’ to develop some ‘slow film’. now that i think of it – i think the back garden is the perfect place to start – with its references to gendered spaces! so i set myself a challenge for over the summer – a short video sequence of the back garden in polaroid takes. fingers crossed.

contact through lens: contact sheet series (day 5 & 6: landscape & lens ‘residency’)

day 5 & 6: for my last couple of days here, i wanted to just slow down: pause in the landscape as opposed to move through it – maybe inspired by research into ‘slow films’. i have been thinking of developing a series of screen prints in a ‘contact sheet’ format mainly because i am interested in taking a multiple view approach to landscape as a challenge to the single fixed (and male) perspective on the landscape by making a composite of varying frame, angle and distance – far and near etc. in light of everything i have been testing about analogue versus digital processes and the amount of images i have been recording, i thought that i would work within the parameters of a roll of film, i.e. 24 shots. there is something in the naming of contact sheet that also draws my attention. i remember from my days processing analogue negatives and developing contact sheets that contact meant placing the strips of cut negatives on the paper to develop and print image positives. but i think i like the idea of contact sheets in relation to landscape because i am making contact with it through the lens and through image making – the lens as a point of contact rather than separation or distancing device. so for day 5 and 6 i went again to the woods (day 5) and the mountains (day 6) and picked points to stop and ‘contact’ the landscape through my lens. i stuck to 24 shots although i could have extended to 36 as again i couldn’t stop looking through my lens and framing and reframing the landscape. i then generated a contact sheet in photoshop.


contact sheet horizon 24 (taken on walk through bishop’s wood)


contact sheet trees 24 (taken on galtee mountain walk to lake muskry)


contact sheet sky 24 (taken on galtee mountain walk to lough curra)


contact sheet sky 24b (taken at another spot/stop on same walk)

reflection: i wonder if my choice of subject matter – sky, horizon etc was some kind of attempt to touch and make contact with something i can’t touch – sky, horizon, light? the process of stopping or pausing in the landscape also suggests some slow takes through video which might be one of my next moves. i am not sure how suitable the format will be for screen printing just yet but i am interested in the strip of frames of this film format and might apply it to printing. i also think that the contact sheet (trees) where the frames change only marginally might be more effective in engaging the viewer in actively looking, almost like a game of spot the difference. this links in with my stereograph work also where the frame shifts slightly between the 2 images.

reflection on ‘residency’: over this ‘residency’ i have made a lot of exploratory gestures, some of it reinforcing my thinking on landscape, body and lens and some if it surprising me by contradicting it. overall, the simple decision to respond to the landscape through the lens in some small way every day has been opened up many possibilities of working with landscape, lens and body and given me lots of areas that i want to test and explore further. what i really take away from this is the value of exploratory making in keeping practice and ideas alive and well. it seems like a 2 way process or cycle where my making feeds my research and research feeds my making.

further work: just started to prepare the images for screen-printing. there seems no way of generating a contact sheet without image numbers. while the numbers add to the authenticity of it as a contact sheet, practically they will be too small to print evenly and i think the print will work better unnumbered – as a point of contact rather than reference points so i prepared them individually and inserted them into a master ‘contact sheet’ canvas… now what to do with the colour layers?

postscript: sorted – just export the contact sheet and cut the numbers out in a new layer. horizon contact sheet.jpg

references and links 

Ingold, T. (2013) Making, Anthropology, Archaeology, Art and Architecture. London: Routhledge [online] At: Making – EVA…/Making%20Anthropology%2C%20Archaeology%2C%20Ar… (Accessed on 05.01.19).

Luke, B. (2018) ‘I wouldn’t be here were it not for public funding’: Turner Prize-winner Charlotte Prodger makes case for state support for the arts’ In: The Art Newspaper [online] At: (Accessed on 24.04.19).

re Ingrid Pollard’s ‘Pastoral Interludes’ – Women and Geography Study Group of the Royal Geographical Society with the Institution of British Geographers (1997) Feminist Geographies, Explorations in Diversity and Difference. Oxon: Routledge.

re Abbas Kiarostami’s ’24 Frames’: At:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: