My backyard

2009, Photography

These photographs are from places I am so familiar with. I came here as a young child with my grandfather cycling through the country. I loved the farmland, the dairies, the cows, the long lanes with high trees, the ditches, and the twisting roads.
My backyard by Wouter Brandsma
In some ways things have changed since my childhood. Increased traffic, modernized dairies, the cities have grown, and people recreate more. But thankfully some things didn’t change. This place still has that charme I loved. The wide view, the open fields, the smell. I come here to relax, to enjoy, to photograph. And photographing this place has become something like an undetermined task for me. Something I should really see as a project.
My backyard by Wouter Brandsma
I photographed here so often and will probably do so for some time. A kind of James Ravilious project for me. James Ravilious documented the region of Devon in England during a seventeen year quest taking some 80,000 B&W photographs.
My backyard by Wouter Brandsma
He carefully selected his gear to do his photographic work. Wide angle and moderate wide lenses with low contrast, preferrably uncoated. Instead of using more modern Leica M cameras, he still worked with pre-War Leica rangefinders. No SLR cameras, no color film, but just B&W. He remained unknown during his quest, but his work gets a lot of attention nowadays after the BBC broadcasted a documentary (scrolldown this page) about his photography. And for those in the UK and interested in his body of work, there is an exhibition in the National Theatre in London until May 16.
My backyard by Wouter Brandsma
I personally really like his style and how he modified his cameras and lenses to make it work for him. The cameras were simple, but the viewfinder gave him clear site of the composition. I am very much attracted by this simple approach to photograph. Simple cameras, just a view lenses with different focal lengths, and B&W photographs.

All photographs by Wouter Brandsma


14 thoughts on “My backyard

    1. I have considered it Mark. But it is the film and processing that cost more these days. If I find an older seventies single lens rangefinder at fairs I might buy it. Something like the Olympus Trip. And I can always still use my GR1.

  1. Wouter, thank you for sharing info about James Ravilious. I’ve not heard of him. I sat and watched the entire documentary and was very moved. Not only by his photographs, but by his dedication, and the feeling he captured and invoked. Truly a great work.

    1. It is a very moving documentary indeed Jeremy. Another blogger mentioned his work last year (in think somewhere in November) and it completely captivated me. As a matter of fact, when I saw the first photograph of this post it reminded me of his work.

  2. I have the BBC program on tape and have seen the exhibition at the NT. His work captured the essence of 1950s English rural life, (a time long past). Seeing the program you realise he was more than a photographer, he was a friend of both the farmers and the countryside. His artistry was the ability to capture those feelings and express them as images. Looking at his photographs you can almost smell the cow dung and freshly cut grass.

  3. Hello Wouter,

    very emotional photos of the places you are familiar with. And thanks for the link to James Ravilious.

    Best wishes,


  4. Very nice series and story Wouter and your pictures really have the James Ravilious look to them with the lower contrast.
    After Yesbuts recommended I go and see his exhibition, I went to see it at the NFT and really enjoyed the pictures. Need to watch the documentary.

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