Reflecting on the picturesque

My initial reaction to the question posed here – what are my views on the picturesque – was that I generally prefer a picturesque scene itself to any depiction of that scene. This is too general a rule though; really what I think I mean is that my own attempts to capture a picturesque scene will never match the reality. Going further though, this is only relevant to those scenes where it is impractical to include then entire scene in a photograph. I have had success with photographing smaller scenes; an old building, woodland, or a stream.

By my own words there I am already starting to define what I mean by picturesque. I suppose I tend to think of picturesque as a term as coexisting with the idea of peacefulness; depicting a place where one would feel safe. For a small scene – a building or a bridge for example – I would regard it as picturesque if it came with an element of time; an older construction is far more likely to suggest picturesque to me than a modern concrete one. For a larger scene – mountains for example – perhaps my reluctance to trying (and failing) to capture the scene in a photograph is where the location has a sublime element to it and I too often  lose that element  in a photograph.

I’m less keen now than I was when I was younger to try and capture a picturesque scene just as a souvenir. I would rather try and depict a scene as a piece in itself, as if I was not actually present. I have found that the photographs I enjoy most are often those where the place depicted is not the reason I was there in the first place. To a certain extent this is just avoiding the obvious; I don’t want to just take the same picture that every other visitor gets when they go to a particular place.

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