Thursday, December 18, 2008

Prospecting for views

click photo to enlarge
Look through any art gallery showing paintings from the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and you are bound to come across many "prospects". These are paintings or drawings that show a view of a town, city, harbour, building, or any place that the artist or illustrator wanted to describe pictorially. This engraving of "A Prospect of the University and City of Oxford", dating from 1705 and attributed to Johannes Kip, is typical of the genre.

The earliest recorded use of the word "prospect" to describe the pictorial representation of what we would now call a "view" dates from 1649 when John Evelyn (1620-1706) wrote in his diary, "I went to Putney and other places on the Thames to take prospects in crayon to carry with me to France, where I thought to have them engrav'd." Today "prospects" are rarely painted or drawn, but the making of such images is one of the most common uses of the camera. However, we now use the word "view", "landscape", "scene" or some such word, and "prospect" has pretty much dropped out of use. Which is a shame because the the verb form of the word links very nicely with the noun to describe how we search out the particular point from which to make a representation of the scene.

I did quite a bit of searching to find this "prospect" of the church at Quadring, Lincolnshire. I tramped back and forth through the rough grass of this field until I found a composition that made the building the focal point but still kept it quite small. I wanted to include some of the tall brown grasses, and decided to use the interesting but ragged hedge as mid-ground interest and as a means of reducing the expanse of boring blue sky!

Here is a closer look at this church in an earlier blog post.

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 11mm (22mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/160
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -0.7 EV
Image Stabilisation: On