Natural Light

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East Norbert Lake, August 1977
David O'Hara, O'Hara, East Norbert lake, photograph, print, gelatin silver print, black and white photography, landscape, clouds, lake, value contrast, record of place, mood,light record of time, contrast, sharpness of image, water, back lighting, 2D art, two-dimensional

David O'Hara has photographed a  landscapeA painting, photograph or other work of art which depicts scenery such as mountains, valleys, trees, rivers and forests. There is invariably some sky in the scene. ( Landscape is also a term that may also refer simply to a horizontally-oriented rectangle, just as a vertically-oriented one may be said to be oriented the portrait way. (  in black and white, with low, flat clouds over reeds and water. O'Hara's image is highly contrasted, which means that the brightest points are much, much brighter than the darkest points. His title, East Norbert Lake, August 1977, indicates that the location and date are important. The title marks this work as a document, that is, it is a record of a place and time rather than a creation of the artist's mind. This may be true of most photographic artwork, but the artist is telling us through his titling that this is especially true here.

O'Hara's image is similar in a way to Leslie Saunders' Evening Storm, which can also be seen in the Natural Light theme. O'Hara has made an image that provides a different mood than Evening Storm, however, because of the closeness of the rain and clouds, the degree of  contrastA large difference between two things. It is a technique often used to create a focal point.  and sharpness of the image, and the characteristics of the water and clouds. Also, the main trace of human activity in the David O'Hara work is the work itself, the fact that someone was there to photograph the scene is proof of human presence. Additionally, the title suggests that the place has been visited frequently, or at least frequently enough for it to be called East Norbert Lake. Also, both images are lit by a similar source; the light in each photograph is coming from behind and above clouds on the left of the image, and it's spilling to the right.

additional resources Things to Think About
  • Look carefully at David O'Hara’s photograph East Norbert Lake and Leslie Saunders' Evening Storm (seen below here). Write down ways that the artists have used similar techniques to achieve different moods. How are the moods different? Maybe the moods are the same for you. If so, why do you feel that way?
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Is there a particular place and time that holds a powerful memory for you? Have there been any specific days and places that you feel are very important to your own life?

  • Write down one of these as the title for an artwork, and create an image that corresponds to how you felt on that day and in that place
  • It could be a representation of a thing that happened at that time,
  • a representation of something different that makes you remember that place/time, or
  • something abstract.

At East Norbert Lake, August, 1977

  • Imagine that you are in the time and place that David O’Hara’s artwork suggests - East Norbert Lake, August, 1977.
  • Write about what might have brought you there, why you are on the lake, what is around you, the sounds you hear.
  • Build a story out of these imagined elements that relates what is happening to you on East Norbert Lake, in August, 1977.
Canadian Heritage University of Regina Mackenzie Art Gallery Mendel Art Gallery Sask Learning