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Pelestrina By Lindsay Southgate
CREDIT: Lindsay Southgate

Flat and Minimalist Landscapes

by Lindsay Southgate & Stephanie Thomas

Cornwall, a land of towering cliffs, rugged moorland and deeply incised river valleys doesn’t necessarily suggest flat and minimal landscapes yet living in a county, bursting with honey pot locations, didn’t stop us signing up for Alex Hare’s remote workshop, “Flat and Minimalist Landscapes”. Having listened to Alex’s talks and enjoyed the book making workshop he runs with Lizzie Shepherd, we had been inspired by how he uses classic styles and approaches to finding unique viewpoints. We wanted to move further away from planting our tripods where so many others have placed theirs.

Crossing the Lagoon by Lindsay Southgate

The workshop was spread over a month, beginning with a Zoom session followed by time for each of us to put into practice the principles Alex had introduced us to at locations of our choice. A final constructive review session took place online four weeks later.

Misty Rocks by Stephanie Thomas

Alex’s introduction encouraged us to use classic approaches to landscape photography yet move beyond just taking those familiar iconic images we’ve all seen before. We discussed a number of ways to achieve this - tonality, depth, harmony between built and natural environment, the use of abstraction. He also encouraged us to look at the work of painting masters such as Turner and Constable, to use how they embrace minimalism and ideas of flatness to further inform our approach.  It became obvious to us that “flat” is not just a lack of elevation, but exists in unexpected places. Our challenge was to take some or all of these ingredients and over the intervening weeks create images which offered an alternative view of classic landscape shots.

Misty Morning by Stephanie Thomas

The images shared in the final session had been taken in a variety of locations - coastal, inland waterways, marshland, farmland and Venice. We saw a wide range of techniques and creativity such as colour/mono, long exposures, ICM and abstraction showing new ways of seeing and interpreting locations which were familiar to us. Brave approaches were often the most successful - perhaps  the photographer “broke the rules” of composition or adopted an extreme minimal style with only hints of a subject. The flat light available during the workshop, not normally preferred by landscape photographers, resulted in some very effective tonally minimal images. These images were truly unique to the photographer, showing confidence in seeing an alternative view, not just an illustrative image of a landscape.

Pebble by Stephanie Thomas

As well as enjoying the high quality images which came out of the workshop, it was encouraging to see that such competent and skilled photographers were keen to continue their learning, open to constructive criticism and determined to create ever more compelling images. This was testament to Alex’s ability to run an open and encouraging workshop.

Pelestrina by Lindsay Southgate 

One of the unexpected consequences of the pandemic is that photographers from any location are able to meet online and benefit from this type of remote learning. Please, please Landscape Group keep making these opportunities available to us all!

San Giorgio Maggiore abstract boats by Lindsay Southgate


All images © Lindsay Southgate & Stephanie Thomas

This article was featured in the RPS Landscape Group's Newsletter, June 2022.