the landscape photography of Glen Ryan
By ways of Introduction
I'm glad to have the opportunity of introducing the readers of this website to the work of Glen Ryan. Mr. Ryan is a well known landscape photographer with a number of successful exhibitions behind him. I'm sure his work will take us to an unsuspected area of landscape perception, to a view of landscapes that goes, to use his words: "a little beyond the real and into the mystery of the surreal"
The implications of Mr. Ryan's work on landscape appreciation are rather subtle ones. True, his are landscapes that cannot be seen with the 'naked eye' they are made visible only through a certain medium infrared film; they are then mediated not only by the talent of the photographer by a particular technology. The appreciation of landscapes requires as well a deeply seated mediated visualization, in this case abilities to see that 'go beyond' what is directly perceived by the naked eye. Through adequate training of her/his abilities a serious appreciator is able to discern aspects of a landscape that' go beyond' the sensibilities and the eye sensitivities of the casual observer.
The images presented here are just a few examples; more complete galleries may be seen on Glen Ryan's Website:
Some of Mr. Ryan's own notes about his Sense of Landscape and his techniques are presented below.
The wee jasper images form one of the sub-sets of my larger invisible landscapes series. This features panoramic photographs captured on high-speed infra-red monochromatic film.
Since starting work on this series in 1999 I have found myself working exclusively with this film because of its ability to capture light that the eye cannot see - light from the infra-red spectrum slightly beyond the naked eye's range.
This ability allows infra-red film to bring out more detail in clouds, more tones in water and more textures in foliage, rock, sand and sky. And because it essentially photographs elements you cant actually see at the time, infra-red film also adds a magic and unpredictability to photography - a medium which, for me, technology has made increasingly assured and controlled.
This one is from my Wee Jasper's series in 2002.
The image was taken in the limestone outcrops near Mountain Creek, east of Wee Jasper, New South Wales,
Infra-red film has its own unique set of technical problems and issues. To overcome some of these issues and produce large infra-red panoramic prints I have tried to develop a technique based around shooting each landscape on as many individual negatives as I need for the final image. Sometimes this may only be one or two negatives but sometimes it can involve an entire roll of 35mm film. Each section of the image is also generally shot several times at varying exposures to try and counter the sheer unpredictable and unforgiving nature of the infra-red film. The resulting negatives are then scanned and combined using a digital brush. This technique is akin to "painting with light", as the process includes both the illustrative elements of traditional photography, but also many of the impressionistic elements of painting. A completed invisible landscape can take over one hundred hours to combine and complete.
The reason I have become obsessed with this film
and these techniques is the ability of the infra-red film to achieve the
mystery and emotive feel I am looking for in my landscapes.
The main philosophy behind my images is that I am not interested in simply photographing what I can see. I am more interested in capturing an image that reflects what I feel. I am also not so interested in documentary images, or accurately recording what was happening in a scene at the time. I try to take an image that reflects some of the mystery, the emotion, the inspiration that that landscape has generated in me. If that image turns out to be highly contrasted, or excessively grainy, or too white, or too dark, it may technically be a problem, but its not actually an issue to me if it somehow reflects some of the essence of a landscape.
Inspirational landscapes say so much more to me than simply what the eye can see - they trigger emotions, sensations...even memories. They stimulate all of the senses and leave an impression greater than the sum of its parts. To just take an image of what is there does not capture this total inspiration for me.
This was a comissioned work shot in the
alpine region near Canberra, Australia.
Using IR adds some of the mystery and surrealism
that, to me, more traditional photography lacks. Combining the various
panels into the final image allows me to shape the image to reflect my
emotions. I find the entire process to be more expressionistic and therefore
more satisfying than just taking a simple two dimensional document of a time
Creating landscape art with infra-red film might not allow me to express all of the emotions that I feel in certain landscapes but it does allow me to at least go a little beyond the real and into the mystery of the surreal. And to me it is that slight element of extra mystery in what the eye can't see that inspires my art as much as all of those aspects of the landscape I can actually see.