Since the introduction of photography in 1839, portraiture has been one of the most widely practiced forms of the medium. Starting in the early 20th century, however, some photographers began to question whether a single image could adequately capture the complexity of an individual.

One of the things that photographers have done for many years is take self-portraits. These self-portraits are not normally in the same style as they would be if photographing someone else. They have made serial self- portraits that investigate the malleability of personal identity.

Photographing them- selves as shadows, blurs, or partial reflections, Lee Friedlander was one of these photographers. He made disorienting images that hint at the instability of self-representation.

Why does he want to be preserved as venerable in these images? Is it that photographers like Friedlander see the world in a completely different way to the rest of us, and wants to put back a little humanity. Identity is a very personal thing and we have a good idea in our own heads of what we look like and who we are. But this is always so much different to what other people actually think of us. So self-portraiture seems to be one of the ways we unload all our emotions, to let others know how we actually feel.


lee_friedlander_self_portraits_in_the_picture lee-friedlander


Product and commercial photography based in Milton Keynes


The Sublime

The sublime..

The sublime evades easy definition. Today the word is used for the most ordinary reasons, for a ‘sublime’ tennis shot or a ‘sublime’ evening. In the history of ideas it has a deeper meaning, pointing to the heights of something truly extraordinary, an ideal that artists have long pursued. After the lecture with Matt where he talked about Edmund Burkes definition of the sublime, if the truth be known I was truly confused. I have always understood the sublime to be something like the opening statement to this post.

I would have always put into the context of great things but not into the context that Burke explains it in his writings Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, published in 1757.

He broke the idea of the sublime down into seven aspects, all of which he argued were discernible in the natural world and in natural phenomena:


Darkness – which constrains the sense of sight (primary among the five senses)

Obscurity – which confuses judgment

Privation (or deprivation) – since pain is more powerful than pleasure

Vastness – which is beyond comprehension

Magnificence – in the face of which we are in awe

Loudness – which overwhelms us

Suddenness – which shocks our sensibilities to the point of disablement

Although the phenomena on this list represent serious challenges to human equanimity, Burke argued that they were benevolent on the grounds that sublime reactions like these would lead to a kind of pleasurable or fulfilling terror. So it was that for an eighteenth-century viewer to be frightened by a sublime effect in a work of art was regarded as a positive experience.

So can images in photography project the sublime? Can you get the same emotions from an image as if you where there your self?


Stand then upon the summit of the mountain, and gaze over
the long rows of hills. Observe the passage of streams and all
the magnificence that opens up before your eyes; and what
feeling grips you? It is a silent devotion within you. You lose
yourself in boundless spaces, your whole being experiences a
silent cleansing and clarification, your I vanishes, you are
nothing, God is everything.
Carl Gustav Carus, Nine Letters on Landscape Painting,
(Second Letter), 1815-1824
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Donald Doe
The beautiful in nature is connected with the form of the object,
which consists in having [definite] boundaries. The sublime,
on the other hand, is to be found in a formless object, so far as
in it or by occasion of it boundlessness is represented, and yet
in its totality is also present to thought.
Immanuel Kant, Critique of Judgement, 1790
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Fine Art Verse HDR Landscape Photography

  Fine Art Photography Traditionally all landscape photography has been seen as fine art photography, being created with artistic vision and creative intention by the photographer.  These fine art landscapes are usually photographed in black and white habitually using film … Continue reading

Review of my Photogram Alphabet

The evolution of this piece of work stemmed from myself wanting to create a traditional analogue and silver based darkroom alphabet, so I came up with the idea of making a photogram alphabet. A very simple way to communicate what the brief asked for. I love the concept of photograms and have been fascinated with them for many years now but I have not really experimented with them a lot myself.  There are many subjects and themes that can be interconnected as an alphabet with the use of photograms. What I really wanted to highlight is my personal homage to the importance and the art of photography and its birthplace in the UK. It is a very big nod and a doff of my hat to our greatest pioneer of photography William Fox Talbot. The first time I ever heard about photograms is when I was a small boy, I remember the kids TV program Blue Peter did a piece on the home of William Fox Talbot the English inventor of photography and his home Lacock Abbey. I recall being captivated with the conception of how you could capture light and chemically fix its moment in time into a photograph without the use of a camera. This is where my passion for photography first began. While being on this HND photography course I have been reintroduced to the notion of photograms, and this has reawakened my hunger and enthusiasm for the most basic of photography mediums.

I spent time considering how I could bring this concept to life, what did I need to use to construct the alphabet form?  I thought about using Blutac, Playdoh, Playskool Magnetic Letters but I wanted something a bit more hands on and constructive.  Williams Fox Talbots early photograms included a feather, I really wanted to emulate the softness but without the use of a feather as I could not easily form an alphabet from this material. I wanted an item with a soft covering that could easily be manipulated into alphabetic shapes.  I decided to use pipe cleaners as they had a soft down exterior covering that would best resemble a feather giving the appearance I was aiming for.

 After purchasing the pipe cleaners I sat and considered the simplest way to shape and form my alphabet.  I found that to create the shape I needed to bend each pipe cleaner into the basic formation of each letter.  I then cut differing lengths and attached where necessary to complete each letter.

After I had finished making the alphabet out of the pipe cleaners the letters looked pretty cool and I was ready to take them into the dark room.  I have a dark room at home so it was much easier for me to make the photograms, I wasn’t constricted to lesson time so I could have a much more relaxed approach to producing my work for this alphabet.  I started by cutting dark room paper into quarters, this was not only to save paper but I also wanted to make 26 individual photograms. I used a standard dark room method and chemical fix to obtain my images. After I completed a few test prints and was happy with the results I continued to print the whole alphabet.

The results I achieved from making these photograms were very gratifying and they look very cool. I got the exact appearance I was aiming for; the pipe cleaners gave me the feathered soft edge I was aspiring for. Once the photograms were dry I had to scan them all into Photoshop just to do a final post edit to clean them up and sharpen before I put together the final image using InDesign.

 When I showed the final image at a critique session in class a very interesting conversation presented itself. It was pointed out that the font I had inadvertently designed with pipe cleaners looked very child like almost like a Comic San font, I never even thought of this.  It is an interesting comment and when you do take another look it could also resemble writing on a school chalkboard. This makes this particular piece multi meaningful in a retrospective kind of way; everybody seems to interpret it slightly differently. This is a good place to be as it just shows how other people envisaged and view other people’s art. Overall I was very happy with this alphabet and I nailed it to what I was trying to communicate as a piece of work.

D.W Images Photography Milton Keynes

Photogram Alphabet






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