Kaylyn Liner and I have decided to work together for this project. For our project, we will be experimenting on viewing nature through a mirror. Our project centers on the Claude glass optical device. The Claude glass device was widely used in the 18th century by many artists. A Claude glass optical device allows an artist to turn their back on picturesque scenes, and view the scene through a tinted mirror. We believe that almost everyone has a simple appreciation of nature when viewing it with the naked eye. Our goal is to discover what the significance is of viewing nature with and without a Claude glass. We will aslo explor the idea of how a Claude glass might change or influence our perception of nature. We believe that viewing nature through a Claude glass will help people have a better appreciation and understanding of the natural world around them.

   The Claude glass optical device was also known as a black mirror. The first Claude glass device was a hand held pocket lens. Illustrators and painters held the glass to observe the scene behind them. The device allowed an artist to view the image through a framed view. This technique helped the viewer to depict more tonal values and variations of the scene. The glass also blocked the sunlight from the natural sun, and prevented it from distorting the image. Both novice and skillful artists used the glass to help develop their artwork.

   The Claude glass was named after a 17th century painter, Claude Lorrain. Lorrain is best known for his landscape paintings. Lorrain brought landscape paintings to a new level by achieving quality that literally surpassed the beauty found in nature. Many artists in the 18th century sought ways of duplicating Lorrain’s work. An artist, William Gilpin, founded the idea of using the glass in an attempt to illuminate the brilliant techniques of Claude Lorrain.

   Our project plans will begin with visiting several different locations that include natural landscapes. We will visit the Moss Rock Preserve in Hoover, Oak Mountain State Park, and Tannehill State Park. At each location, we will view reflections of natural landscapes through a mirror and with our naked eye. We will document our observations of each view with photographs. Then, we will compare and contrast each observation to discover the fine details that enhance the beauty of the landscape. We will determine if the beauty of landscapes can be better appreciated through natural visualization or an experimental Claude glass.

   For now, the title of our project is “Viewfinder,” although this may evolve as we undertake the project. The main tools for our project include a side mirror, camera, and tri-pod. Our objective is to create documentation for 15 to 20 different views of landscapes. We will rely on our art knowledge and experience to note the artistic differences in each observation. Our plan is to present our project to the class with a picacho power point presentation of our findings along with a brief essay. We believe our project is engaging as it allows us to observe different natural landscapes. We are also able to analyze each view in an artistic manner. Our hope is to demonstrate the knowledge we have gained from this class by viewing nature and developing an analytical response to our observations.

   Along with our grade being at stake, the goal of this project is to raise awareness of the beauty that is found in nature. The beauty of nature is all around us. Unfortunately, most people are too busy with life to experience nature at its fullest. We are hoping that our project will open peoples’ eyes to new experiences, and force them to readjust their understanding toward nature. This project is connected to national parks by landscape formations that are found within the state parks of this area. Even though the local state parks do not offer breathtaking views like the Grand Canyon offers, we believe beautiful awe-inspiring landscapes are abundant in this area.

   Our resources are limited, as they are still a work in progress. We have performed some online research on the Claude glass. We found basic information from a December 2004 issue of Art Times. In the article, “The Claude Glass” the author Raymond Steiner discusses the history of the glass. Steiner also talks about modern applications of the Claude glass. Steiner describes different ways he uses red-tinted plastic to look at subject matter to achieve the same effect as the Claude glass. We have also done some research on both Oak Mountain and Tanniehill State Park. We discerned through an article titled “Encyclopedia Alabama” by Thomas Ress certain facts about the natural beauty of the park. Oak Mountain has 9,940 acres of forested hills and valleys. Shackleford Point is the highest point in the park. It is a little over 1,260 feet. We believe the loveliest natural feature of Oak Mountain is Pevine Falls, which cascades 65 feet. We also searched the homepage of Tanniehill at We found that the park is 1,500 acres, and is best known for its historical features. The park is home to 45 historical buildings. The iron furnaces are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

   We are planning to visit Moss Rock during the week of October 21st, Oak Mountain during the week of October 28th, and Tanniehill during the week of November 4th. After visiting each park, Kaylyn will process the photographs of the observations. I will write the explanations for each observation. Kaylyn and I might also explore the idea of making quick sketches of our encounters in nature. The week of November 11th, we will create our power point, and write our essay. After each week, we might give the class a sneak peak of our findings for the day by posting one or two pictures with a brief description. This is a photography based project after all. We can’t post every picture we document. That would spoil the surprise of the project. Kaylyn will create the power point presentation, and I will type an essay. The week of November 18, we will meet and work on different ways to present our power point and essay to the class.


10 thoughts on “Viewfinder

  1. This is a great start and you have some good research and ideas here. I think the crux of your proposal is this section: “Then, we will compare and contrast each observation to discover the fine details that enhance the beauty of the landscape. We will determine if the beauty of landscapes can be better appreciated through natural visualization or an experimental Claude glass.” I’m not sure that it’s a question of either/or or which one is “better appreciated” or which one is more beautiful. Those are subjective aesthetic categories, for sure. Perhaps a better way to phrase the question is, “what is the significance of viewing nature with and without a Claude glass? Or, HOW does a Claude glass change or influence our perception of nature? Literally and ideologically. Finally, think about a way to present and share your findings. How will you do this?

    • Andrew,
      I agree with what you said. I like how you revised our question to “What is the significance of viewing nature with and without a Claude glass?” That is probably the better way to approach our idea. You mentioned yesterday in class that a good way to present/share our findings with the class would be to post our pictures after each visit to the park. I can’t speak for Kaylyn, but I love that idea! However, maybe we would refrain from posting all of our pictures to just one or two instead. That way, we could tease the class by giving sneak peaks of our findings.

  2. I agree with Andrew’s comments above — it seems like you are really assessing different experiences — actual experience, photographic record, experience of using the Claude Glass. You might want to consider documenting (in a journal, sketchbook, or video or audio recording) your experience when you find the view. I also agree that adding a little bit of how you will present the project would be great.

    I look forward to hearing more about this! (And hoping you have good weather for exploring!)

    • Kelly,
      Thank you very much for your input! I love your idea(s) on using sketches and journal entries to document our findings. We are art majors after all right? HaHa. I will go back and edit the presentation aspect of our project in a few minutes.

      As far as the weather, maybe that would add a cool effect to our photographs. A little rain never hurt anyone right?

  3. When we talked about it in class, my first reaction to the Claude Glass was more negative in that you’re turning your back on nature and sort of distorting it. I like your take on it though, and I’m interested in what you’re going to come up with!

    • Hey Hannah,
      Thanks for the comment. Believe it or not, I felt the same way toward the idea behind the Claude Glass at first. However, after a little bit of research, I definitely found a new appreciation for the concept. Hopefully Kaylyn and I will be able to accurately convey that newfound appreciation.

  4. Great idea!! There will be so many wonderful views you are going to find at Tannehill and Oak Mountain! Good Luck! I have visited both parks many of times, I am anxious to see your take on the views you come up with!

    • Oh, this is definitely not my first time visiting Tannehill or Oak Mountain. I just hope I can find all the locations I’ve found before.

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