Capturing The Landscape: The National Gallery Photo Challenge

John Constable, ‘The Cornfield’, 1826 © The National Gallery, London (click it to explore a larger image)

This is a sponsored post on behalf of the National Gallery.

The National Gallery’s first major exhibition of photography, Seduced by Art: Photography Past and Present sees three ‘interventions’ of contemporary photographs on show within the Gallery’s collection, juxtaposed with great 19th-century paintings.

Now you are invited to explore the connection between Old Master paintings and photography, taking inspiration from Constable’s ‘The Cornfield’.

Dave Lewis is one of the photographers currently exhibiting in Seduced by Art, and he will have the difficult job of selecting one winning photo that best responds to the challenge. That entry will be displayed on the National Gallery website alongside the judge’s feedback and the winner will receive an exhibition catalogue and dinner for two with a bottle of wine at the lovely National Dining Rooms.

So, what’s our pro’s advice on embarking on this challenge? Listen to Dave:

Whilst Constable’s ‘The Cornfield’ tells us about the English countryside in the early nineteenth century, your photography should take on the challenge of telling viewers what your surrounding environment is like, from the viewpoint of an early twenty-first century image maker

  1. Fill the frame! Notice that in Constable’s painting, the whole picture area has been used: trees, clouds, ground and lake frame the activities in the scene.
  2. In looking we can divide the painting into foreground, middle-ground and background. In each of these areas there is something for the viewer to consider: the dog and boy drinking; the labourer; and the village respectively. This ‘rule’ is a good way to capture viewers’ interest in your photograph.
  3. Use colour. Amongst the greenery of the trees and fields, the drinking boy’s red waistcoat stands out and draws the eye. This muted red works well amongst the other ‘green’ colours of the painting, as do the red flowers around the tree on the immediate left.’

Excellent. Now, how do you enter?

Submit your photograph to the challenge Flickr group, capturing a landscape view by 1 January 2013. Further guidelines, terms and conditions can all be found in the Flickr group. Good luck!

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