Monday, 28 November 2011

Chrystel Lebas Analysis, Panorama Photographs.

A fascination with darkness and the unseen haunts the work of London-based French photographer Chrystel Lebas (b. 1966). Using a panoramic camera with long exposure times ranging from two to six hours, Lebas creates sweeping, mesmerizing landscapes, which explore photography’s relationship with time and movement. Panoramic photography is a form of photography that uses special equipment and software that captures an elongated view of the subject too. as I can see in this photograph by Lebas it is horizontally very long and vertically rather thin. She took this approach with her photography and always focused on natural landscapes.
The photograph included in her work 'Etudes' French for 'Studies' shows a landscape of a lake as the main focus and trees also included. it was taken in 2009, it could have been taken from any time from the early 20th century to now because of technological advances involving panoramic cameras. This has clearly been taken on professional equipment because of the perfection in its development, supporting Lebas as an established photographer. it doesn't link with anything politically or worldwide happening, in fact it sits very well on its own, distanced from the normal world. It could link to history and time in a sense that it has been there forever, this is because everything included is natural, at this specific time (I am guessing early evening, after sunset) this landscape has looked like this for centuries. Because of the stillness of it I can tell a very fast shutter speed must have been used. Lebas's interest in darkness and unseen relates to this because of the element that as this time the dark is creeping in, but isn’t quite there yet, also the dark shadows on the water from the silhouette-like trees show a cover up of the unseen, what is under water? It is involved in the photograph but still hidden. Although Lebas didn't belong to an art movement, this photographs atmosphere would be suitable to for an artist such as Van Gogh to paint. This photograph was not taken for any particular purpose, it was taken as Lebas's personal approach and style to photography.

I think that Lebas chose to work from this sources because of the composition, the lake is what is seen first and takes up the majority of space in the picture, but so it isn’t too plain the trees that pear in on the side work perfectly well to fill up the space, and both these natural elements fit together because of their contrast and differences. The lake focuses on tones and pattern because of the ripples and reflection a more surreal view of the landscape above is shown, whereas the trees are solid black silhouettes looking smooth is texture because of the dark lines. because of their bold statement and the water with very few ripples, no movement is created in this photo. the photo could feel like an illusion because of this, as if it is too quiet and still to be real, something should happen but it doesn't, silence is just left there.

The untitled photo helps to suggest more mystery, perhaps the atmosphere looking in the middle of nowhere helps us to relate no title to it. The theme is definitely time and space, which was Lebas's aim, the space is still and so is time it seems. I don't think there is a particular story here but perhaps just a sense of a story of nothing, just a still landscape that has been there forever, nature being a narrator. Because of the nature being important we don’t think of people or any living specie being involved, there isn't even a sign of any birds, meaning Lebas's attempt to present time seems even more powerful because time seeming paused is supported by no movement even to creatures in the sky, hey are non-existent in this photograph.

My first reaction to the work is that I like it because of the contrast in the cold looking blues and whites on the water surface to the sharp blackness of the trees, i am drawn to the lake first but see the trees almost as stencils even though they are real. The sense of silence is felt and also coldness due to the lack of sunny colours, it must have been winter when this was taken. It reminds me of a photograph I once took on a digital camera of a lake with trees reflected in it, although this was late evening in spring (shown below).
This photograph was taken with my 14 mega pixel camera in my garden (around 4.30, winter evening) and although no reflection of water isn't related, the colours reminded me of the sky in Lebas' photograph, and the almost unreal lines created from the trees.
The same place in my garden but at a different time of day (around 6 on a winter evening), different to Lebas' but I wanted to see what different amount of light/different coloured sky would turn out as a photograph.

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