Mike Morrish led a session looking at cityscape photographs by members of the Forum. He defined cityscapes as: A photograph of the physical aspects of a city or urban area. It is the urban equivalent of a landscape. The city or section of a city is viewed as a scene, or may be an artistic representation of a city or urban environment. It might take a variety of forms: a pictorial view; a view as from an aircraft or skyscraper; city buildings silhouetted against the horizon; a city scene with typical elements; an image of an individual building or street.
Eleven members submitted around 50 photographs. Mike separated these into seven broad categories: city views; architecture; looking up…down; reflections; darkness; public places…and people; and patterns and street art. Pictures took us from Dubai to Heidelberg, Leicester to New York, Paris to Shanghai and Trondheim to Vienna. It was part photo appreciation, part geography lesson (and part holiday bragging rights).
Photographically, the session revealed a variety of approaches: black and white and colour; wide views and close ups; unconventional angles and picture postcard views; manipulated images and straight photography. The pictures frequently showed the value to simply taking the advantage of whatever opportunity is on offer, whether using a simple camera because it’s easy to pack or grabbing a shot on a flight or guided tour. The resulting pictures may not be great (though they may be very good, e.g. scenes of Rome and Sydney), but they sometimes get the essence of a place or building that might escape a more considered or carefully composed shot.
Geographically and environmentally, the pictures captured a dichotomy between local distinctiveness, e.g. Stone Town and Trondheim, and a homogenisation in the ever expanding high-rise of big cities, e.g. Singapore and Manilla. New was set against old, dereliction against renewal, pride of place against financial gain. If it was a geography lesson, it was a lesson in inexorable change and globalisation.
Photos: 1. Stone Town, Zanzibar, 1999; 2. Martin de Yeltes, Spain, 2002; 3. Heidelberg, Germany, 2005; 4. Musee d’Orsay, Paris, France, 1990