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Huibo Hou

How a Witch’s Finger becomes Fine Art

Thomas Peck

The real pleasure of photography is that it forces me to slow down and really look. That’s never easy in our rushed world, so a chance to stop, look and see is truly valuable.


Lockdown has been pretty tough for many of us. But one of the silver linings for me has been the ability to present to many more camera clubs via social media than would normally have been usual. And it was during one of my recent Zoom presentations (on The Sublime In Landscape Photography) that one of the viewers asked me a question that really stopped me in my tracks. I had been talking about ‘fine art black and white photos’, and the club member asked me exactly what I meant, how did I define ‘fine art’, and why was the link made so often between fine art and black & white?

To be honest, I think I gave a rather waffly and unconvincing answer. The moment passed and the presentation went on. Truth be told, I wasn’t happy with myself, and the question has stayed with me ever since like a tiny itch in the back of my mind. The problem is I trust my vision and my intuition – I think I’m pretty good at recognising an image which I can categorise as ‘fine art’. But to be able to describe why it’s fine art…? That’s much harder. So, I took the viewer’s question, and my little itch, and looked for an image that would allow me to say not only “That’s fine art”, but also to rationalise why I should describe it so. And then I came across this wonderful image by Huibo Hou and my thoughts started to fall into place.

Huibo’s image of the Witch’s Finger (Trølkonufingur) in the Faroe Islands is a great example of emotive feeling exploding out of an image. To say it’s got drama is to do it a disservice. The view here is epic, monumental, awesome in the Burkian sense of the sublime.

Huibo Hou - witchfinger

When I do the Sublime presentation

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