“Landscape photography is the supreme test of the photographer – and often the supreme disappointment.” – Ansel Adams.
So many times I have pointed my camera at a landscape simply because it was there and looked beautiful. This was a a trap. I had been lured me into believing that simply taking the photograph was worthwhile in itself. All I had done was hold a mirror up to nature. I had not made the photograph. The image made no statement and expressed nothing about my own perspective.
Ansel Adams understood that the photographer needs to find a voice through the landscape. For years I floundered because I had nothing to convey other than the obvious beauty of the land. I realised that I had to find a way to engage with the landscape because, if I couldn’t, then neither could the people who saw my photographs.
The following tips are just reflections based on a personal philosophy of what I believe is important in landscape photography.
Have Something to Say about the Landscape
The land takes time to read and to understand. You have to stand still and see the way light changes the contours and shapes. As the sun moves, it lights forests and streams in dramatically different ways.
It took me a long time to see that light gives landscape its own voice. Light creates mood and emotion in landscape. The land is a huge canvas on which light paints a complex and delicate picture.
For me, photography is about capturing the way in which light transforms the land. My decisions, therefore, about what to photograph and how to compose the shot are all dictated by the question, ‘Does this say something about light and landscape?’ This simple question leads me to reject many frames which, while beautiful, present no opportunity to explore my chosen theme.