Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Grand Landscape

I seldom photograph the grand landscape. There are several reasons why.

1) it means getting up early and traveling far and I'm lazy

2) grand landscapes often depend on perfect lighting or the right clouds or freak weather conditions which means that even if you do get up early enough, 19 times out of 20 the conditions aren't going to be right when you get there. Frankly I'm not into such poor odds

3) there are a lot of people who are good at the grand landscape - the competition is severe

4) with that much competition it's really hard to say something new

5) the more majestic the scenery, the harder it is to put something really impressive into a print - you'd rather be standing at Grand Canyon than looking at a photograph of it. Ansel Adams was able to convey the majesty of Yosemite, the average snapshot makes Yosemite look small and boring.

6) Frankly, I like the idea of seeing something other people don't - recording something every one else would recognize as awesome just doesn't appeal to me (though I can see that the challenge to convey the awesomeness could be attractive to other photographers.

7) I like the idea of creating a picture rather than finding it. I like working the scene until the parts come together to make an image which doesn't really exist until I frame it.

Most of us admire the grand landscape, but that doesn't necessarily mean that's where you should put your photographic efforts or stake your reputation.


Adrian said...

Going to Yosemite for Grand Landscape is about as suicidal as going to Paris for Street Photography - your odds to get something new, better or even original are very small.
For Grand Landscape I choose less photographed places, preferebly ones that I only saw bad snapshots at most...

On a second thought, it may also depend on how you define "Grand Landscape". The classical wide angle, low POV, velvia saturated, foreground+background+amazing sky style is done to death too (though still often with a "wow" effect). But that's IMO just a visual vogue. "Grand Landscape" for me is about showing how I feel about a "natural" place, which can be done in a very personal way - as original as the photographer is as human being, not all that different but still unique.

George Barr said...

I'm with you Adrian, Outdoor Photography From Britain is absolutely enamoured of that kind of shot for it's cover images.