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John Pfahl: Having Fun with Landscape Photography

For Grades 7–12

Table of Contents

Featured Works
Objectives
Materials
Activities
Afterwards: Discussion and Reflection
Additional Study
New York State Learning Standards and Core Curriculum


Featured Works

 
John Pfahl
(American, born 1939)
Moonrise over Pie Pan, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah, 1977
Chromogenic color print, edition 11/77
8 × 10 inches (20.3 × 25.4 cm)
Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery
Charles W. Goodyear Fund, 1979 
(pictured above right and at bottom of page)

John Pfahl
(American, born 1939)
Great Salt Lake Angles, Great Salt Lake, Utah, 1977
Chromogenic color print, edition 12/77
8 × 10 inches (20.3 × 25.4 cm)
Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery
Charles W. Goodyear Fund, 1977 
(pictured at right and at bottom of page)

 


Objectives

  • Learn about the Altered Landscapes John Pfahl created from 1974 through 1978
  • Learn about the horizon line and how it can be used to create different perspectives in landscape photography
  • Make creative changes to photographs before and after they are taken
  • Learn about and write artist statements


Materials


Activity: Altered Landscapes by John Pfahl

Show students the John Pfahl: Having Fun with Landscape Photography Presentation, with examples from John Pfahl’s Altered Landscapes series. Visit Pfahl’s website, johnpfahl.com, and view more examples of Altered Landscapes. Remind students to pay attention to the titles of his works and the locations indicated in the titles.


Activity: Make Your Own Altered Photographs

Assign each student these tasks:

  1. Choose a location to take a landscape or cityscape photograph. Think carefully about the position of the horizon line, the natural lighting and presence or absence of shadows and reflections, and the framing of the scene in the camera.
  2. Take a photograph of this location.
  3. Maintaining the same framing of your photograph, place an object of your choosing somewhere in the location. Take a photograph of this scene. Remember to take your object away when you leave: leave the location as you found it.
  4. Think of a theme for the two photographs you have taken—this can be the title of your series.
  5. Make a title for the two photographs in your series.
  6. If you like, take additional photographs that fit into the series.
  7. Print all of the photographs of your series. Print two copies of the photograph of the scene alone (from #2 above).


Afterwards: Discussion and Reflection

Display the photographs. Have students present their series to the class, explaining their thought processes. Ask students to write artists’ statements about their series. Ask them to include answers to these questions:

  1. Why did you choose this location for your series?
  2. Why did you choose to add the objects you added to your series?
  3. What did you learn about yourself and about photography during your process?
  4. If you were to take more photographs, how would you proceed?

For examples of artist’s statements, visit: http://johnpfahl.com/pages/extras/ArtStatement.html.


Additional Study

Look at the other series of photographs featured on John Pfahl’s website. Have students discuss what Pfahl would have to do and know to take these photographs. How are these different from the Altered Landscapes photographs? 

Ask students to read Pfahl’s artist’s statements. How are these different from their own artists’ statements? Can students think of series of photographs they might like to take after being inspired by Pfahl’s approach to photography? Find artists’ statements by other photographers and see how they differ from John Pfahl’s statements. 


New York State Learning Standards and Core Curriculum

  • New York State Learning Standards for the Arts (Visual Arts, including the museum visit) 1, 2, 3, 4
  • New York State Learning Standards for Math, Science, and Technology 4 (in learning about natural light sources in photography), 5 (in learning about the use of a camera and the printing and altering of photographs, whether digital or mechanical)
  • College Career and Readiness Anchor Standards for Language 1, 2, 3, 6 
  • College Career and Readiness Anchor Standards for Reading 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10 (see Additional Study), 11 (New York only)
  • College Career and Readiness Anchor Standards for Speaking and Listening 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
  • College Career and Readiness Anchor Standard for Writing 1, 2, 4, 7 and 8 (see Additional Study), 10 and 11 (New York only) (plus 5 and 6 if drafts and presentations are developed from the writing)

Gallery