Brandt’s first major essay on landscape was published by Picture Post in 1943 and showed the threat to Hadrian’s Wall from extensive mining activities taking place in its vicinity.
He continues the story: “Little by little a milestone, the tombs in a churchyard, a distant house in a park, until there was a fusion, not consciously sought by myself, of the subject that interested me and that indefinable something which gave me pleasure – aesthetic, emotional, call it what you will . I began to feel I might produce good pictures.”
The trouble had been, as I have since realised, that I came to architecture in the first place with preconceived ideas while with landscapes I had an unprejudiced eye. Thus it was I found atmosphere to be the spell that charged the commonplace with beauty. And I am still not sure what atmosphere is.”
When I have seen or sensed – I do not know which it is – the atmosphere of my subject, I try to convey that atmosphere by intensifying the elements that compose it. I lay emphasis on one aspect of my subject and find that I can thus most effectively arrest the spectator’s attention and induce him to an emotional response to the atmosphere I have tried to convey”
Speaking of his discovery of a gull’s nest on Skye one sunny afternoon Brandt recalled that “as the light was too flat and the nest looked too pretty for this very wild part of the island I decided to come back in the evening. It was almost midsummer night and the pale green twilight started rather late. When I approached the nest on an isolated outpost of rocks an enormously large gull, which had been sitting on the eggs, flew off and circled low around my head barking like a dog. It was windstill, the mountains of the Scottish mainland were reflected in the sea – the light was now just right for my picture”.