on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

Endframe: “Maple and Birch Trunk & Oak Leaves” by Eliot Porter

Adam Long talks about one of his favourite images

Adam Long

Adam Long is a photographer based in Sheffield specialising in outdoor sports, landscape and nature.


In late September 1996, almost exactly forty years after this photograph was taken, I left home and moved to Sheffield to study geology. My possessions amounted to a few clothes, a box of records, a large bag of climbing gear and my faithful SLR - an Olympus OM20. Then, as now, Sheffield is the centre of the British climbing scene, and I soon fell in with a few like-minded folk and we set about exploring the Peak District by bus, boot and thumb. And everywhere we went I recorded our exploits and the landscapes with my single 50mm lens and whatever cheap film I could lay my hands on..

Nowadays I suppose the Sheffield climbers’ pub is the Sheaf View in Heeley. In the nineties, it was the Broadfield, and before that, during the great revolution in British climbing brought about by the twin spurs of modern technology and dole culture, it was the Porter Cottage in Hunter’s bar. To this day house prices in Sheffield remain linked to the city’s industrial past, and over the years, the young, the work-shy, the feckless, all have been pushed east as the factory smoke was in days gone by. Keen to sample the scene, and spot famous climbers, one night we made the forty-five minute trek over to the Broadfield.

The walls were entirely covered with framed landscape photographs – mountains, deserts, rocks and trees, both in colour and black-and-white, some huge prints, some postcards.

Joe Simpson of Touching the void fame was playing pool, clearly a regular, his cue stored behind the bar. And was that faded wunderkind Jasper Sharpe wasted in the corner? On the downside, it was a bit of dive, and the beer was crap. Disappointed, we tried the Porter Cottage next. No famous faces to be seen here, but it was only a ten minute walk, had a great jukebox and passable beer. But what made it was the décor. The walls were entirely covered with framed landscape photographs – mountains, deserts, rocks and trees, both in colour and black-and-white, some huge prints, some postcards.

Most of them, I knew, were Ansel Adams, and although it might have rained all week, the student loan almost run out, but we could sit under a 40” print of Monolith, the face of Half Dome, nurse a pint and dream of sunnier climbs. Over the years, I came to know some of the places first-hand, and slowly identified more of the photographers. Art Wolfe’s Himalayan ridges mixed with the little colour postcards of Ansel’s later experiments with Kodachrome, as well as Denali, the Tetons, New Mexico. In short, it offered a fairly complete introduction to the classic American landscape tradition. Not bad for your local boozer.

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  • Hi Adam, interesting article. Were all these photographs original prints? I myself was holding in a Porter print in Ansel Adams gallery in Yosemite in 1990. It cost almost nothing, but I was too much of a freshman to understand the unique qualities of Porter at that time of my life. As you pointed out the Porter images have so much under the surface whereas Adams is more on the surface. The subtle against the sublime. Both admirable, but my favourite is Porter.

    Cheers / Hans

    • Adam Long

      Thanks Hans. No, no originals, just decent quality poster prints. I’ve seen a few of Ansel’s originals but in the (Yosemite village gallery) but not Eliot’s. I’d certainly like to see some of his original dye transfers not least because the repro in the books I have is a little variable.

      Cheers, Adam

  • tobers

    Thanks for bringing that excellent image to my screen this evening. What an intriguing photograph. It’s as though the black tree trunks are not there, but are long windows into some other alternative universe full of stars. The juxtaposition with the other trunks and leaves, and the colour, makes for a really deep and engaging picture. Great back story too.

  • Joe Rainbow

    A fantastic write up about a really wonderful photograph. Thanks Adam.

  • Very nice piece, Adam.

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