#462 – Book Review – The Rouge by Michael Kenna

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I’ve had a long fascination with the steel industry. Where this stems from I don’t know, possibly from my time at technical college learning metallurgy from a former British Steel metallurgist, and getting my head round such terms as Jominy End Quench, and other such stuff. The attraction of the photography of Michael Kenna is maybe easier to explain, it has a wonderful air of stillness about it, regardless of the subject matter. So I’ve been on the lookout for an affordably priced copy of his book ‘The Rouge’ for some years, a task not made easier by his relatively low profile in the UK, which is a shame because he is a Lancashire lad from Widnes (although he moved to the USA in the 1980’s).

The Rouge is a set of photographs taken around the Rouge steel plant in Detroit. Kenna was given the kind of access a mere mortal like myself could only dream of.

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Kenna’s style is all about stillness, and he carries this style into all his work, irrespective of the subject matter. To that end, he has chosen to capture predominantly external scenes rather than the controlled anarchy of the interior. It would have been interesting to have seen how he interpreted the dynamic, primal energy of the interior of the mills in his quiet, reflective style.

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I actually have two editions of this book. I’d been after a copy for a while, but the cost of his out of print books is scary. However, I sourced a copy in the USA for an almost palatable sum and bit the bullet. After a comedy of errors involving the postal services that resulted in the book making two transatlantic crossings, the book finally arrived for my enjoyment. And then less than two months later, I discovered that the book had been reprinted, with more pictures and a new essay. And for less than I’d paid for the 20 year old copy.

Naturally, I bought a copy of the new edition as well and was rewarded with not only a better book than the original, but one that I suspect was how the photographer wanted it first time round.

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One major change was the removal of the detailed captions from the side of the images in the original book. I was in two minds about this idea in the first edition. Does having a brief description of what the scene depicts take away some of the mystique? The manufacturing engineer in me (I have a degree in the subject) finds this hugely informative, but the photographer in me finds it a distraction that takes away not only the mystique but also the opportunity for the viewer to interpret the image. I suspect that this was a condition of access and cooperation from Ford, as none of his other books have similar captions. On balance, I prefer the new captionless approach.

The second edition also contains 50 more photographs, and has much improved reproduction. The first one wasn’t bad, but the new one has benefitted from advances in printing technology over the intervening period. A gallery of these photographs can be found here: http://www.michaelkenna.net/gallery.php?id=36

Finally, the new book also has a new opening essay by James Christen Steward, Director of the the Princeton University Art Museum, which is an interesting assessment of Kenna’s career, style and industrial landscape photography.

If I’d known that the book was going to be reprinted, I’d certainly not have bothered with the original. It’s still a good book, but the new version is a much better book and I’ve no qualms in recommending it to anyone who either has the original or doesn’t.

If you’re interested, I’d recommend buying a copy sooner rather than later, as Michael Kenna books can sell out and be very expensive second hand (as I’ve found out in the past). It can be bought on Amazon here.

 

#353 – The Factory Photographs by David Lynch

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It’s a while since I’ve seen anything by David Lynch, but I remember that he had a very odd way of seeing the world. Best known for films like Eraserhead, The Elephant Man and the weird Twin Peaks, he’s also had a number of solo art and photography exhibitions.

His most recent exhibition and accompanying book is titled Factory Photographs, a rather self explanatory title, and was at the Photographers Gallery in London early in 2014. Unfortunately, this was the only gallery it came to in the UK, and I didn’t make it to London to see it. However, I have managed to get hold of the book (£40 on Amazon or £25 if you look on their marketplace) to see how he sees the world I am familiar with.(2)-Press-Image-l-David-Lynch-Untitled-(England)-late-1980s-early-1990s

Reading the preamble in monographs is always interesting, not only to put the work into context, but also to understand how an artist thinks and where he is coming from. In this respect, I found a kindred spirit in Lynch, which I found heartening, as I thought that its nice to find that a serious artist appreciates the industrial aesthetic like I do. I should really make the effort to see some more of his films to discover whether that is a good thing or not!

From a style perspective, Lynch focuses on both the details and broader landscape and has what I would call a ‘snapshot’ aesthetic, although this may not necessarily be a reflection of his approach. Certainly the overall look is very dark, although this could be just the book printing – you can never tell until you see prints (which I’ve not) however I wouldn’t expect them to be too far away from the pages of the book. I like the fact that the shadows are very deep and at times blocked up, something I’m constantly being told is a bad thing in my own work. But sometimes you need that to create an effect, something not all monochrome photographers appreciate as a full range of tones seems to be paramount in many circles.

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The photographs were taken by Lynch on his film making travels, where he always took a still camera. However, the majority of those in the book were taken in Poland (and fairly recently too) although there are a few from Britain as well.

I enjoyed the book, although it’s definitely an acquired taste, and his interpretation of the industrial landscape (and the subject matter within it) is very different to my own in many respects. I’d definitely check out some of the work online before buying it – if you like the industrial scenes by the likes of Bernd and Hilla Becher, then you’ll hate the work of David Lynch!

Buy it on Amazon here.

 

 

#327 – Book Review – Abandoned Places 3

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I’ve previously reviewed Hans van Rensbergens previous books, and I didn’t realise he’d released a third earlier this year until just recently.

Hans has one of the longest running (and best) urbex websites on the web, and was one of the reasons for my increased interest several years ago.

One of the first things that struck me, compared to the previous books, was the increase in the amount of colour photographs. In fact it’s now 100% colour, as opposed to Henk’s first book which was predominantly black and white with a small colour section at the back.

This book has a more international flavour than previous ones, with sites in the Caribbean and Japan. I guess this is one of the perks of being an airline pilot and having downtime across the globe!

The sites are as fascinatingly diverse as ever, and in the abandoned American shopping mall, arguably topical. However, I find it hard to get excited about places such as this, as to an extent they’re too familiar – it looks like any other shopping mall albeit unlit and no people. To me, part of the fascination of urbex is the unfamiliarity of the places, but I can see the attraction of exploring somewhere like this, and there’d clearly be no personal safety concerns!

It might just be a consequence of the changing economic landscape, but there are fewer vast industrial sites to explore these days and more diverse abandonments. This is reflected in the Abandoned Places series of books, with the first one having steelworks and coking plants, and this book with lots of smaller places like houses and smaller hotels.

I flicked through it again last night and it’s probably a more cohesive book than the second one, and if nothing else, a return to the landscape format has made it an easier read. It’s also interesting to see the subtle changes in photographic style over the years, with more wide angle shots and also a few long exposure night photographs of an abandoned Japanese theme park.

Abandoned Places 3 is up to the high standards set by the previous books and is highly recommended if you are a fan of the genre.

Buy it on Amazon here.

#324 – Book Recommendation – Looking at Photographs

I saw this book recommended recently on Andy Beel’s blog, just after I’d judged my first photographic competition. While the timing was unfortunate, I ordered the book nonetheless, and I’m pleased I did, not only on the off-chance that I get asked to do some more judging, but also as a concise reminder as to the elements of a good photograph.

Those of us who have experienced some erratic, if not arbitrary, scores and comments from visiting camera club judges will appreciate Ken’s comments around objectivity and consistency..

I’m glad to say that I took an objective methodical approach to the judging I did. Objective is perhaps the wrong word as photographic appreciation is such a subjective thing, what I mean is putting aside prejudices and preferences in respect to technique and subject matter, e.g don’t mark something down because it uses HDR, or because you don’t like studio portraits.

The book hits the nail on the head by saying that you are there to judge the image that is there in front of you. You shouldn’t be awarding extra points if you know that the photographer used gum bichromate or some other difficult or lengthy process to create the image, if it’s not a compelling image, then it might as well be a machine print from Boots.

In reading how to judge an image, I’ve got some ideas on how to better judge, or edit, my own work.

It’s a pity that the book isn’t available as an ebook, as the low purchase price gets bumped up by the cost of shipping which is a fiver if you’re not in a hurry, or £12 (!!!!!!!!!) if you are. Either way, this book is highly recommended. Really, this should be the textbook for all new judges coming onto the scene, of how to do it properly, but you don’t have to be a judge to get something out of this book.

http://www.blurb.co.uk/b/2932165-looking-at-photographs

 

EDIT – sorry to my subscribers for the blank title in the notification, there’s some glitch in the wordpress software whereby changing the title of a post in ‘Quick Edit’, automatically publishes the post, even if you’re not ready yet!p

#290 – Book Review – Detroit Disassembled

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Andrew Moore’s ‘Detroit Disassembled’ is a book that’s been on my wish list for a couple of years now. I’d discovered it just after it came out, as it was released at a similar time to the eye-wateringly expensive ‘The Ruins Of Detroit’ by Yves Marchand, but at about half the price. It’s certainly got fewer pages and photographs than Marchand’s book, but whether it’s half the book, I don’t know as I’m not prepared to spend over £50 on a book!courtyard-detroit

Moore’s book is slightly unusual in the genre in that the photographs are by a photographer, rather than an explorer. To that end, it has a different feel to it for some reason. Maybe it’s because the photographs were taken on a large format film camera, which requires a different approach to photography than the machine gun approach taken by many explorers. Interestingly, Moore’s media of choice is colour negative film, something very few explorers use (other than myself and a couple of others I know of on Flickr), but it actually makes a lot of sense, a the dynamic range of colour film is far greater than slide and digital, and this is useful when you are photographing indoor scenes where there may well be light shining in from outside, as well as dark shadows. And of course, large format can be enlarged to sizes that DSLR users can only dream about.Park_Ave-Detroit

The use of colour for the work is an interesting choice. Many explorers us it as it is the default in their cameras and don’t really understand the complexities of black and white. In fairness, if you are more interested in documentation or taking photographs to prove you were there, then to spend time in post processing simply isn’t required. And to an extent, Moore is making a record of what is there, with no agenda other than to document. For this purpose colour fulfills the brief. Would lack and white have worked? Well that depends on the preference of the photographer, but given that black and white is a more expressive medium, then colour provides a more objective means of recording.The-Ruins-of-Detroit-2-Yves-Marchland-Romain-Meffre

So what of the content? While the majority of the book is devoted to what has become termed ‘ruin porn’, the later pages are street scenes and portraits of some of the people who still live in the derelict urban areas. This is an interesting counterpoint to the dereliction scenes earlier on, as unlike other books on decay, which deal with individual sites or themes, this book is about a city and the people and communities clinging on to an existence amongst the decay.

While the city of Detroit as a whole is still a major conurbation, the scale of the decay is quite shocking. The New York Times reported that there are 70000 (yes seventy thousand) abandoned properties in Detroit). The decay of the inner-city/downtown first came to my attention a good few years back when Jeremy Clarkson visited the city as part of his Motorworld series in the early 90’s, and then did a feature in an abandoned area of town with Top Gear on the Ford GT 7 or 8 years ago. The decline has been a long, slow one, often attributed to a combination of ‘white flight’ to the suburbs after the 1967 riots, and the general decline of the US car industry, which Detroit is still the heart of.

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Vast empty, factory complexes, what was once the worlds largest railway station abandoned for 20+ years, a fully stocked school supplies depot just rotting away, theatres, office blocks – it all seems oddly unreal. Moore says that “In Detroit the forward motion of time appears to have been thrown spectacularly into reverse”, and it’s hard to argue. Seeing all this through British eyes, where land is expensive, seems incomprehensible. Derelict sites rarely stay that way for long, but white flight from the suburbs leaving ethnic minorities populations to take over the industrial inner city areas is something we are familiar with. Thankfully, despite all it’s faults, British politics doesn’t allow its inner cities to decline in such a catastrophic manner.

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What is hard to believe is that all this exists in the richest, most powerful, most technologically advanced nation on earth. But the very source of this wealth, the capitalist factory system, and its never-ending drive for efficiencies has itself contributed to the city’s decline. The older factories have closed and moved elsewhere, often to the suburbs, and so those left with jobs have followed them, as have the retail and commercial enterprises. The rise, fall and rise of the US car industry could fill volumes, but the nature of manufacturing is that it’s often cheaper to build and equip a new greenfield factory, than to renovate and run an old one. It’s even cheaper to shift the entire operation offshore, which is what has happened to a lot of second and third tier suppliers, leaving the higher value and assembly of vehicles in the USA. There simply are no comparisons in Britain and Europe (unless you count Chernobyl, but that’s a completely different situation, whose causes and effects are totally different).

Taken at a superficial level, as someone who has been part of the urbex community for a good few years, I’ve seen thousands of urbex photos. These bring nothing new to the genre, but as a study of an area and it’s crumbling edifices, it works very well indeed. Doubtless there are thousands of similar individual images online that are as good as or maybe even better of all the locations, but sometimes you can over indulge on this kind of thing on the internet, so it’s nice go have a flavour of things that may provide a good lead into other things online. However, this book is not about abandonment and dereliction per se, although it features it in large doses. Moore describes it as “a multi-faceted metaphor of America, present, past and, perhaps, even future.” I’m sufficiently well-travelled to know that this is not a typical American city, but it does provide an interesting illustration of a socio-political-economic worst case scenario and it’s consequences.

 

Order the book from Amazon here: Detroit Disassembled

#289 – Thresholds Of Change – Link, Gifford and the end of steam

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O.Winston Link – Train No.2 arrives at the Waynesboro Station, Waynesboro, Virginia

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Colin Gifford

The increasing affordability of photography in the 50’s and 60’s meant that the end of steam traction in Europe and America was well documented. Two recent book releases by acknowledged masters of the genre present a fascinating contrast of styles and cultures.

Each a Glimpse is a re-release of Colin Giffords 1970 classic. Gifford was one of the pre-eminent British ‘progressive’ railway photographers of the 1960’s, and this book is more than a re-print, it’s more of a digital re-master of a classic album, with some photographs replaced with previously unseen ones.

Life Along The Lines is a new book of photographs by O.Winston Link, and apparently ‘replaces’ the two other books of Link’s photographs, of which more later. Link’s photographs were taken slightly earlier than Giffords, and documented the final five years of steam on the Norfolk and Western (N&W) Railway in Virginia, USA, between 1955 and 1960.

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O.Winston Link – Main Line on Main Street, North Fork, West Virginia

In the preface to ‘The Last Steam Railroad in America’, Thomas Garver contrasts Links style and methods to that of the era;

“While Robert Frank and legions of other photographers walking the streets of America photographed the country as they found it, Winston link photographed America as he wished it to forever remain. Yet his are not elegiac pictures. Link created a record of the culture and life lived along the steam railroad as though it would never die. In his photos it has not.”

Link predominantly used 4×5 large format field cameras, shooting mainly (but not exclusively) black and white. He is perhaps best known for his spectacular, often heavily staged, night time photographs along the N&W network, and these took in not just the trains in isolation, but included the workers, passengers and the people who lived along the line. Memorable photographs were taken at a drive in cinema, in a lineside living room, overlooking teenagers swimming in a moonlit river, all of which the train played a bit part role in the composition.OWL7

The photographs are masterpieces, and are widely admired beyond the railway community. But Link was more than a railway enthusiast with a camera. He was a successful freelance commercial photographer, and the project to document the last years of steam on the N&W was a huge one that fitted in around his work. He had the benefit of the official backing of the railway (although it was very much a personal project, and not a commission) which doubtless made the creation of the photographs easier, and they often involved huge, and hugely elaborate lighting setups for the night photographs. Such was the scale and complexity of these, few have come anywhere near to matching the results (although Andrew Rapazcz in the UK and Olaf Haensch in his book NachtZuge have adopted a similar, albeit smaller approach). And yet, there is far more to Link’s work than just black and white night photography. There was a lot of daylight photographs taken, including a number in colour (although he only took two in colour at night – remember he was using large format film, which is in individual sheets rather than rolls), and these are unstaged. However, they are all meticulously taken and composed as Link would drive to pre-determined spots in his car, set up his cameras, make the photographs, and then if possible, drive to another spot to get another photograph or two. His daily output on large format could be in single figures if he was out in the countryside chasing trains. And yet, as this was a personal project, relatively little of his years of work was published at the time, and it was not until 1978 that a proper exhibition of his work was held, and finally in 1987 Steam Steel and Stars was published. This was an album of his night photographs and this shot him to fame. This was followed by the aforementioned The Last Steam Railroad in America in 1995, and Life Along The Line in 2012.

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O.Winston Link – Roanoke Shops

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O.Winston Link – Father and son at Montgomery Tunnel near Christiansburg, Virginia

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O.Winston Link – Hotshot Eastbound, Iaeger, West Virginia

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O.Winston Link – Hester Fringer’s Living Room On The Tracks, Lithia, Virginia

After flicking through a book of Link’s work, the contrast in style with Gifford is startling, but of course, the photographers were working in different countries and in different circumstances, to different agendas. And of course they weren’t the only people out there taking photographs – notable contemporaries in America include Richard Steinheimer and Jim Shaughnessy, and David Plowden, while in Europe there was Ian Krause, John Hunt, Paul Riley, Colin Walker, Les Nixon and others. The European style is more reminiscent of that described above as Robert Frank’s – photographing things as they were. What made Giffords work stand out though, was that it was different to the traditional railway photographs in the magazines of the times. Three quarter ‘wedge’ shots and the like had been the typical railway photograph for years, but here was someone who while not shunning front three quarter views entirely, made them just one part of the composition. The breadth of Giffords work is considerable – unlike Link who completed 20 trips over 5 years documenting the N & W, his three key books (Decline Of Steam, Each a Glimpse, And Gone Forever) cover virtually all of the British Rail network, from the south Coast and Cornwall, all the way up to Scotland. Once the N & W project was complete, Link took no more railway photographs.

While Link had some of his images published in contemporary magazines, he was not widely known, possibly because, as described in Life Along The Line, he was rather difficult to deal with in getting his photos for publication.

By contrast, Gifford was widely published in magazines of the day, and his first book the 1965 ‘Decline Of Steam’ was a revelation to many young steam photographers. This approach became known as the ‘New Approach’, and while there appeared to be no one single initiator of the new style, many look to Gifford as being one of the most influential. Ian Krause, one of the better protaganists of the New Approach was beginning to develop his own style when, as he wrote in his brilliant book with John Hunt On and Off The Beaten Track:

“There are times in life when you really believe that you’ve discovered something other than a cliché. This was the time: within a month it was a cliché. Colin Gifford’s Decline of Steam had made it so. Whilst on the one hand he had broken the stranglehold of the old guard who had monopolised the photographic content of railway publications since the 1890’s, he had also blown the new horizons that a few of us had begun to see clean off the edge of the earth. It took a few months to recover, but we now had a standard to work to, and there was a new sense of creativity emerging, not just in photography, but in the whole field of the arts as well”

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Colin Gifford – 92166 runs beside the St.Helens Canal at Winwick Quay with a northbound freight

While there’s enough to write a whole article on the ‘New Approach’, it was best summed up by Ian Krause as ‘….a hybrid of pictorialism and photo-journalism.’ To that end, as described above, the approach while no doubt well planned, was far more informal than Links, in a more ‘candid’ style, that took in not just the engine and train, but the urban and rural landscapes that the railway was a part of. The name ‘Each a Glimpse’ is actually taken from a line of Robert Louis Stephenson poem ‘From a Railway Carriage’ which is actually about the fleeting sights seen when travelling on a train, but is actually an appropriate description of some of the images in the book. In some, the train is but a tiny part of the whole composition, a fleeting part of the landscape distinguishable only by a silhouette or a trail of white steam, very much as you would see as if you were walking down a road or a path in that era. It lacks the precision of Links work, maybe because of the smaller format it was taken on giving less definition, but it feels very gritty and British, very much of its era. It’s like Get Carter and other British dramas of the time. And yet Gifford work is incredibly creative in a different way. While Link sculpted light and arranged engines. Giffords pallete was different. He worked with what he saw in front of him to realise his own vision. His was not an untrained eye – he attended art school and was himself influenced in his railway photography by Jean-Michel Hartmann’s book Magie du Rail.

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Colin Gifford – a class 5MT leaves Tebay with a northbound freight

Neither photographer was without his critics – the ‘New Approach’ had been derided as “….an out of focus blur passing some grainy cooling towers….”, while Wikipedia quotes Gifford as describing Link’s work as ‘too contrived’ and ‘pantomime’.

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Colin Gifford – Bathgate

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Colin Gifford -Morning Freight At Preston

It is worth touching on the subject matter itself as well, as after all these books are about railways. We’re blessed in the UK to have an abundance of heritage railways with an abundance of engines like Austerities and Black 5’s, so seeing these in action (and not on charters), in some quite familiar locations is quite fascinating. But then when you see the enormous 2-8-8-4 American locomotives double heading mile long coal trains, Links photographs might as well be of UFO’s landing at Roswell. It’d be interesting to get an American view of the British engines, seemingly related to the American behemoths only in the principles of steam propulsion. But one thing that both photographers do have in common is there inclusion of people in the photographs, as well as the surrounding landscape. Giffords recording of the British urban landscapes of the 60’s is very much of that era – foggy, grainy, Lowry-esque, remisniscent of some of the work done by the likes of John Bulmer and Don McCullin in the north of England. His style was often to have the train just as one part of the composition, sometimes only a tiny part of it. By contrast, Links style had the train as the obvious focal point, but in varying degrees of visual importance. However, Along The Lines contains a lot more of Links photographs of people of the railway, and some with no trains at all. Interestingly, in Links letter to the railway asking for their co-operation in the project, he did state that he would like to include an employee in every photograph (a worthy aspiration that didn’t ultimately happen, but there is a heck of a lot of human interest in the body of work). As a consequence, of all of the books of Links photographs, this is by far the most definitive, rounded record of the railway.

While Links work is unique and unlike any other railway photographs before or since, it has to be viewed in that context. Other American photographers were taking photographs that were more candid in their approach, although the ‘New Approach’ probably didn’t make it over the Atlantic because American steam had all but disappeared by 1960, a time when the New Approach had yet to evolve. And while I wasn’t around at the time, this was well before the internet age, and I can’t imagine there being too much transatlantic sharing of images. But viewing the two side by side is like comparing Dallas with Coronation Street. Links work can be almost cinematic in its style and attention to detail, while Giffords is more of a 1960’s Kitchen Sink drama – gritty, urban, real. Both were masters of their approach, and railway photography is a better place for it.

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Colin Gifford – Trafford Park

Order the books at Amazon:Each a Glimpse…
and
O. Winston Link: Life Along the Line: A Photographic Portrait of America’s Last Great Steam Railroad

#265 – Book Review – The Industrial Landscape – Bernd and Hilla Becher

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I’ve heard a lot about the industrial photography of Bernd and Hilla Becher over the years, but from the work that I’d seen, I just couldn’t get excited about it. OK, I’ll be the first to admit that this field isn’t exciting in the same way that, say, motorsport photography is, but all the same, the books I’d seen were just lots of architectural studies of water towers and other structures. I never really understood their typological style of presenting their photographs, but maybe that’s a reflection in the lack of maturity in my tastes. From a technical perspective, they are excellent, and maybe they are interesting and useful from an architectural / historical perspective, but to my uneducated eye, they lacked any kind of imagination or creativity.

It was only later that I discovered that they had also published a book of industrial landscapes, imaginatively titled ‘Industrial Landscapes’. In this they appear to have taken a few steps back from their usual positions and taken in the wider landscape to give more context to the subject matter, and this style of photography reminds me of the work of John Davies.

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The book is quite a broad study, of traditional manufacturing areas in the USA, Germany, France, Britain, Belgium and Luxembourg. It would be interesting to see similar work done in the former Eastern Bloc, or in India, China and Brazil.

 Fforchaman Colliery, Rhondda Valley, South Wales (1966), UK

I found it interesting to note the different styles between countries, especially coal mines. Mines in the UK were pretty consistent in their functionality and lack of embellishment, but the designs of those in Continental Europe are many and varied. The inclusion of the rickety wooden mines in the USA is a comical contrast to the rest, and reminds me of some I’ve seen in photographs from China.

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The photographs in this book are different from the usual Becher images in that they’ve deliberately included other elements of the urban landscape, especially houses. I suppose industrial areas are all the same in that houses are built right up to industries, you only have to look at your archetypal northern street scene of rows of terraced housing with a large cotton mill and chimney, towering over. A steelworks is a somewhat different proposition though. Plate 94 of the Terre Rouge plant in Luxembourg takes this to extremes, with a gigantic conveyor crossing right over a row of houses, and the steel plant right across the road to the front. The residents are quite literally living in its shadow.

The body of work focuses heavily on steelworks, coalmines with smaller sections on dock warehouses, grain towers, gas holders and limekilns. This is very much an aesthetic study, and it is often about the juxtaposition of visually complex structures such as a bank of blast furnaces on the landscape. These are what held my attention, less so the grain towers, these images are more of a study of the structure itself, which while moderately interesting from an architectural perspective, are basically just images of the buildings. Their place in the landscape is maybe less interesting as they tend to be quite isolated structures, especially those in the flat, featureless American Midwest. There again, are these not missed opportunities to photograph them in that environment.

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania (1986), USA 

I came away with a different perspective on the Becher’s after this book. I liken the images in this to informal environmental portraits, rather than the stiff posed studio-like portraits of the typological work. That’s not to detract from the rigour in which the Becher’s approached the landscape work, far from it, as they themselves said in the interview at the front of the book that landscape photos are more a composition than anything else.

A fascinating interview with the Bechers can be found here and another shorter one here.

Order the book from Amazon here: Industrial Landscapes