Comparing My Photo “Abbey View” with “A Graveyard and Steel Mill in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania” by Walker Evans


(01/08/2017) Following advice from tutor Jayne Taylor I have reworked Abbey View using the burn tool for the whites at the edges of the sky that were bleeding into the background, and gone back to the original tone and saturation for the layer of grass at the foot of the image. The burning into the highlights has been a difficult process. I’m not sure what the issue is but in Lightroom and photoshop it looked good, but when uploaded to here there were dark greys where I had burned in. I then reset my background in Lightroom and Photoshop to white, but the problem still persisted. In the end I have made the adjustments whilst having the image displayed in wordpress. For me it was key to make the adjustments but only slightly. Therefore I have set my adjustment brush tool to a feather of 91 and the flow at 12, with the standard -0.3 exposure for the burn.

Exercise 1.9 Soft Light Landscape

(27/07/17) I update my tutor Jayne Taylor around every 10 days to let her know where I am up to with my coursework. In replying to an email last week she said:-

“We’ll talk more about individual images when it comes to feedback on your assignment. Meanwhile, I would say that, for me, the landscape image you have chosen is the strongest image here; the visual layering is effective and it evokes impressions of ‘natural’ and ‘social’ (or ‘societal’) landscapes. For some reason it brought to mind an image entitled ‘A graveyard and Steel Mill in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania’ by Walker Evans.  (On a technical note, I’d be inclined to darken the sky, very slightly, as the edges of the image are in danger of disappearing into the white background of the page – try it.)”


Fig 1 and Fig 2

Over the past week I have reviewed “A graveyard and steel mill in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania” by Walker Evans and also “Shot at Dawn” by Chloe Dewe-Matthews. If I had not have reviewed those then I would have struggled to see why Jayne has been reminded of Evans’ photo. The reworked photo will be at the end of this post.

I took Abbey View as a part of coursework, following the instructions for exercise 1.9 Soft Light Landscape. I had no intention of creating or telling a story, and as far as landscaped photography is concerned I at that time had no concept of narrative and context. What do I see now?

An Abbey and a church in the distance. This must be an old town as in the UK Abbey Ruins tend to be on the sites of older religious grounds that can go back to around the 5th to 10th Century. On the left and right hand side of the photo the ground drops a little so the Abbey is on a cliff. There are signs of a town at the front of the mid-ground and to the left of the church. The town will have had a connection to the fishing industry and will possibly have a river or harbour. Old towns required food and possibly trade so fishing was important. The distance between the fore and mid-ground say that there is a lot of surrounding countryside and the town is very rural, and although there are not a lot of houses in the scene there are enough to show that the town has grown.

This means that we have an old religious town that is set on the cliffs in a rural or remote location. The town has grown to support the religious community that lived and worked at the Abbey and has developed a fishing industry. The town has grown over the centuries but it remains a small coastal town. There has to be some good beer around too. monasteries produced differing types of alcohol for consumption and as a commodity to trade.

This is not a strong narrative, maybe it would be if it were part of a series that were to explore the monasteries of the UK, or maybe it is, but because it’s so familiar the story is rather benign to me? It’s not important. What is important is that I can approach landscape photography differently now. I can explore narrative with landscape photography now, and that is a skill worth developing.


In view of what Jayne said with regard to the edges disappearing into the background I have tried a few options. The most straight forward was to creat a border around Abbey View. The original is on the left.


Then I took the photo back into Lightroom for re developing. It took several attempts to develop the photo in a manner that didn’t lose the subtlety of the sea and sky. I believe the strongest photo is the one on the left – the re-developed photo without the border, but it is still in danger of losing the whites to the background ant the top of the photo. Which do you prefer – with or without the border?

The changes to development are as follows. The left hand side is for a grad filter that I used over the sky and sea with a very narrow feather/small gradient, dragged to the cliffs. The right hand side is for the whole photo. I have only made minor adjustments but I believe that they work.

Develop Settings


Fig 1 Evans, Walker; 1935; A graveyard and steel mill in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; MOMA (online archives); Online at (accessed on 23/07/2017)

Fig 2 Keys, Richard; 2017; Abbey View; Online at (accessed on 28/07/2017)

Keys, Richard; 2017; Review of “A graveyard and steel mill in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania”; Online at (accessed on 28/07/2017)


5 Replies to “Comparing My Photo “Abbey View” with “A Graveyard and Steel Mill in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania” by Walker Evans”

  1. Good morning.
    Thank you for sharing this essay on your rework of the landscape image of Whitby Abbey and inviting comment. As always I have learnt a great deal from your work, on this occasion about narrative and redeveloping. I am not a fan of dark framing myself but so can see the effect.
    I look forward to your next post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Sarah.
      I used a tool to map the speed of your wordpress site, and there is no issue with its speed. Its not the quickest but falls into acceptable range.

      So there are two points in relation to speed. Your Internet connection and the processing speed of what you use to access your site are point 1. Obviously when your village loses broadband it slows thing down. A PC will generally be quicker and able to manage more processes than a mobile.

      Point 2 – the dash board with stats, add a new blog etc. When you are on this page you are in the workings of your site, the machinery, and there are lots of processes going on here, called scripts, and this is a slower process. Imagine having a pot plant. You see it from the outside (people viewing your site). You add water, food and light (visitors, comments and likes). When your in the wordpress dash board your in the plants soil. Your analysing the nutrients, balancing nitrogen, phosphates, potassium, taking away waste, regulating water etc. Much more complicated.

      The dashboard is therefore much slower. If your mobile connection is good or running on WiFi it will be slower than a pc but manageable. If your mobile is slow then it’s better to wait before you connect.

      Ive looked into how to speed things up but without being an it tech I’m not going to even try it on my site let alone try and talk anyone through it.
      Sorry this is so long and hope it helps a little.


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