Blog: Landscape Photographers vs Landscape Painters


How does landscape photography compare to landscape painting? Take a look at the two alternating images of the back of Notre Dame Cathederal in Paris (before the fire).

In the film Mr. Turner, English Landscape painter J.M. W. Turner visits a daguerreotype salon and comments that one day he will be put out of business because everyone will have a camera. He’s referring, of course, to the unwieldy, slow-shuttered, daguerreotype rig and, given that photography has exploded technical boundaries in parallel with the logarithmic change in individual computing power, Turner is probably lucky that all he apocryphally saw were black and white pictures of still subjects preserved under glass plate, and not a recordable color space of 16.7 million possibilities.

But his point is well taken. Assuming mastery of composition and technique, are a painting and a photograph valued the same way? What if we remove mass duplication from the equation and postulate, as is sometimes the case, that both the painting and the photograph exist in very limited numbers? one copy held by the creator–an artist’s proof or a preliminary painting perhaps, and the single, public original owned by a patron. In other words, no prints of either kind and direct involvement in the final process by the creator.

The two pictures above are simply posted for the sake of argument, and there is no intent to classify them as works of art.  One is a photograph, the second a computer-assisted ” chalk” rendering . The subject, the colors, dimensions are all the same. And, while I’d be happier to have a pastel comparison hand done by a proficient artist and eliminate the computer assist, it’s worth noting that the photograph itself was processed through a digital camera and Adobe Lightroom software –computerization as well. Or perhaps that’s the key difference between painting and photography. Or perhaps it’s not, if the painter uses a photograph as a reference.

Anyway, if your home in Malibu overlooking the ocean has a perfect wall on which to put a large landscape, and money and availability are no object, and the subject is available in either form, are you looking for a great painting or a great photograph? Or would you prefer art that masterfully combines aspects of both?




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