Why take landscape photographs?

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This is not a technical question but a philosophical one. I don't know how many of you are interested in landscape photographing, but those who are I am intersted in hearing your responses. Thanks.

What has always drawn me to landscape photography is using it as a way to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. In early adulthood I yearned to leave the city, the crowds of people and to be more in contact with nature. To take in the natural world, to relax and free my mind of stress. Photographing helps me focus on the landscape and in a sense meditate. This "meditation" allows me to concentrate on the landscape before me, to quiet my mind and over the years this has opened up for me new ways of seeing the world we live in. (This type of photographing naturally led me to large format with it's slow and precise technique with wonderful detail in the end product.) And it is these things I observe and experience I try to convey in my landscape photography. I was interested in hearing from others, what motivates you in taking landscape photographs. Not for commercial purposes, but for personal work. Why do you try to make an "artistic" landscape photograph?

-- Saulius Eidukas (landscapefoto@yahoo.com), March 10, 2001


By taking nature photos, I allow myself the time to notice the beauty that is to be found in nature that at a "normal" time I wouldn't even notice. And by exhibiting such images, the viewer too is given a peek at such wonders that are to be found in little things like the structure of a tree bark, or a fabulous cloud formation.

-- William Levitt (Light-Zone@web.de), March 10, 2001.

'Cause I can't imagine NOT taking landscape photographs!

-- Kevin Bourque (skygzr@aol.com), March 10, 2001.

So I can take all my exposed film into my dark room and screw it all up, then ask all you guys and gals for help! Seriously, I make "artistic" landscape photographs because it's the best way I know how to express to others what I see in front of me without saying a word.

-- Dan Kowalsky (dank99@bellsouth.net), March 10, 2001.


Very well said.


-- Kevin Kolosky (kjkolosky@kjkolosky.com), March 10, 2001.

For the same reasons you do Saulius. Regards,

-- Trevor Crone (trevor.crone@uk.dreamcast.com), March 10, 2001.

Saulius, Your question is a very valid question, and the responses will also be valid, but more interestingly, diverse. The question of why Homo Erectus does things is quite profound. In the History of Photography, early photographers were intrigued by the "experiment" of "capturing" light & shadows. I still think that is valid today. I for one think in terms of "capturing" a slice of time, to record a "fact" and to find "solitude & tranquility" in my work. However,for me, it does not have to be landscape subject matter. From a Social Scientist point of view, I'm interested in the "Zeitgiest" of my time & place--people, places, events & things. I also believe there is the element of mortality in photography--a hidden wish to leave behind a "record" of our brief life on earth. The "camera" is a tool by definition, and Mankind has always had a hand/mind relationship--of leaving "artifacts". And what is Art??????? That blown out concept in todays world is in my opinion, anything that is genuine, original and creative--from one's own soul.

This could be a doctoral thesis, so I guess I'll end by recalling a book/author of the radical '60's---Jerry Rubin, "Do it"

Raymond A. Bleesz Histographer/Documentary Photographer

-- Raymond A. Bleesz (bleesz@vail.net), March 10, 2001.

I want to recall what the landscape looked like before an oil well or housing development appeared there.

-- David Goldfarb (dgoldfarb@barnard.edu), March 10, 2001.

Because it's there.

-- Sal Santamaura (bc_hill@qwestinternet.net), March 10, 2001.

Because in this way I can deceive myself that I'm able to fix and understand a little portion of the "absolute", even if I really understand that all I do is just to try to read the incomprehensible rules of the Universe. Nothing more. By the way I was bewatched by some picture of Ansel Adams, I like very much to show my photos to my friends (wich take pictures with compact cameras .... I'm treacherous, I have to admit it).... and sometimes I'm able to sell some photo of mine.

-- Mario Caruso (m.caruso@mariocaruso.it), March 10, 2001.

Chiming in with a little stream of consciousness, I take landscape photographs because doing so helps me see. My most pleasant photo experiences are when I see something that catches my eye and am able to put it on film. Later, when I develop it, I remember what I was feeling and how it grabbed me. I don't always show it to other people; in fact, I don't always print it. One great thing about large format is that I enjoy the negatives themselves. If I repeated anybody, I apologize. I deliberately didn't look at the other response, because I wanted to give my immediate reaction to the question. Good light and low wind to all, Jim

-- Jim Worthington (ajworthington@mindspring.com), March 10, 2001.

Saulius: Wow! Such a simple question to evoke such deep thoughts. When I first read the header to your post, I thought "because you can make landscapes when it is snowing and nude models won't pose". Then I read you post and realized you had posted a serious question worth some serious thought. I like to make landscape pictures to show others the beauty that one can find outdoors, and to show others how I responde to that beauty. It gives me a chance to make an image that will say to future generations that "he was there, and look at what he did with what was before him." I get the same kick now out of showing my work at art shows and listening to the comments of the people who visit our booth. Many times people will have visited the same area I photographed and state they were there, but it didn't look like that. That is extremely good for one's ego. I can't imagine not being able to shoot landscapes and details of nature. It would not be photography for me.


-- Doug Paramore (dougmary@alaweb.com), March 10, 2001.

Great question - As for me, most of my work goes unseen by others. Like you, this is my way to meditate, slow down and see beyond seeing. I am very passionate about photography, and have been for about 25 years now. But when I'm involved in taking pictures, it is truly the only time when all my day to day stresses and problems escape me and I'm at peace. If I had to explain beyond this, I feel no one would understand.

-- Jim (jimzpace@yahoo.com), March 10, 2001.

So where do you now live? Still in a city where all the filth & crap pulls you down or in a much smaller rurala area near the land you want to photograph? It is as easy to move to the quiet areas you want to photograph. To be where you can step outside your door and a short walk or drive will put you in the quiet and peaceful atmosphere you want to capture with your camera. Living in these areas will give you a much different perspective on them than having to drive hours to get to them. You will have a greater chance of getting the lighting as you would like throughout the seasons by being close. You can go back again and again to the favored area since it is so close. Maybe what you want to convey in your photos will change as you become part of what is is you are trying to photograph.

-- Dan Smith (shooter@brigham.net), March 10, 2001.


So that somehow I can begin understanding what it means to "go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence". (A quote from the 60's from "Desiderata", for all those of you who still can remember.

-- Rico Obusan (eobusan@aol.com), March 10, 2001.


This is a very good question which has provide us all with a variety of thought provoking answers. Like you, I was drawn to landscape photography and more importantly LF landscape photography due to the relaxing aspects it provides. The act of using large format equipment especially outside necessitates a certain amount of patience and calmness if one wants to achieve a suitable shot. Unfortunately unlike most others on the site, I do not have a long history of photography or a photographical background. Instead I am a relatively new member with only the basic experience of a 35mm casual shooter.

I was searching for an activity that would lead more towards the outdoors again but without a rifle in my hand or a motor cross bike between my legs. LF photography has been that vehicle for me and has given me ample reasons to hike and enjoy the beautiful mountains once again. I also was seeking some solitude from the day-to-day grind and wanting something to do with my hands and my mind while traveling outdoors.

The paradox for me is that frequently I come upon an area, which moves me in some way, so out comes my equipment, and I begin to set up for a shot. I can wander around the area for a good half hour looking at this and that perspective and trying to use the mental tools I have learned so far. Surprisingly I will sit on a stump or hill and enjoy the area but never quite find an appropriate shot to take. After a while I will concede that I am not satisfied with just taking a shot and will move on. On the average for probably every three or four locations I check out I feel fortunate to have take a single exposure. From a 35mm perspective I would have probably taken a full roll in the same amount of time.

In essence I feel that by taking the time, enjoying the moments and not feeling self obligated towards getting results has proven to be the reasons I am attracted to landscape photography. Of course I have never attempted any other style such as studio still forms or architectural photography. Who knows? Perhaps there may be just as much enjoyment in these areas in my future.



-- GreyWolf (grey_wolf@telusplanet.net), March 10, 2001.

I shoot landscapes to capture beauty which I cannot buy with dollars.

-- bill youmans (bill@greatgrips.com), March 10, 2001.

I shoot landspapes and other things because drawing and painting never went very well for me and the music that I make is downright unpleasant! Photography however, I can do...

-- Steve Clark (agno3@eesc.com), March 10, 2001.

Dang, typing was never a high point either. L-A-N-D-S-C-A-P-E-S

-- Steve Clark (agno3@eesc.com), March 10, 2001.

Because I want to capture some essence of the feeling I had when I was there. I don't take as many photos as I have opportunities to. That is, I'm selective. The scene must evoke some emotional response in me before I take a picture.

-- Charlie Strack (charlie_strack@sti.com), March 10, 2001.

Living in the Idaho panhandle, the beauty of the land becomes such a normal part of everyday existence, that many of us fail to appreciate it. It becomes the wallpaper in our lives, and we stop SEEING it. We forget that many others must hang it on their wall to regain that connection. Through photography, I rediscover it, and even the minor details of nature that most of us have not noticed since childhood - when we were not reluctant to be wowed by a leaf.

-- Matt O. (mojo@moscow.com), March 10, 2001.

I shoot landscape in black and white only for the artistic and technical challenge.

The main point for me is to see how I can convey what I think and feel through a photograph. Also, no beating the to the sense of accomplishment once I have made a well composed, framed and exposed negative.

-- Haim Toeg (haim_toeg@bmc.com), March 11, 2001.

Hi all

Allmost very bautyfull thougts, for mayself its not very different to what is allready stated, I want communicate to others what I feelt or saw at the time when I was there!

-- Armin Seeholzer (armin.seeholzer@smile.ch), March 11, 2001.

I understand and agree with the majority of the previous postings. Lately I have also found myself simply sitting and watching the land even though I have my gear with me. I seem to be slowing down a bit!! I am definitely taking longer to make a picture and I REALLY enjoy the slow pace that LF offers!! Regards (a very chilled out) Paul

-- paul owen (paulowen_2000@yahoo.com), March 11, 2001.

Saulius, Lois Conner in her book "China" said something along the lines of: photography gives us an excuse to look closer. I feel this is very true. Like you, I feel that the process of LF photography is akin to meditation. The doing is the thing. If you actually capture the image you wanted, that's a plus.

Kur jus givenat?

-- Linas Kudzma (lkudzma@compuserve.com), March 11, 2001.

To me, landscape photography is part of a natural progression of my spiritual connection to nature. When I'm out in nature alone, I feel that I am part of it and I feel at peace with everything around me. By photographing what I see, I am able to more easily recall those moments when I was so in awe of my surroundings. Also, it provides me with a way by which I can share what I see with others. A secondary motive for me is environmental. I very strongly believe that photographs can go a long way in helping to preserve the natural world. A photograph can show the beauty in nature to someone who would not otherwise see it. With each additional person we can get to see the beauty in nature, our chances of getting to change things for the better improve.

Why do I shoot landscapes with large format? I could just as easily shoot it with 35mm or medium format. In fact, I love my Nikons and Mamiya and shoot with them whenever I can. However, the view camera simply fits the way I think when shooting landscapes better than any SLR ever could. Strange how the simplest technology can help you realize your vision more easily than some computer- crammed piece of wizardry like today's AF SLRs.

-- David Munson (orthoptera@juno.com), March 11, 2001.

"The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera."

--- Dorothea Lange

That says it better than I ever could.

-- Mark Parsons (Polar@thegrid.net), March 12, 2001.

Thank you all for your various and thoughtful responses. I agree with you all in what you have stated. I've been interested in the landscape as a photographic subject since I had my first camera. I am always seeking new ways of approaching and interpreting this subject and that was why I asked for your input. It heartens me to hear so many are interested, as I sometimes feel landscape photography may not get the respect it fully deserves. I suppose as an alternative perspective I could have asked those who are not interested in landscape photography, why not? Best Regards, Saulius

-- Saulius Eidukas (landscapefoto@yahoo.com), March 12, 2001.

I take landscape photos because I like being outside. If I can't be outside, it is nice to look at the wall and see a little slice of the outside. I could easily buy images of other photographers but I find my own prints to be far more personal. For example, I recently moved to Nova Scotia from Windsor, Ontario. When I worked there, I had a view of the Ambassador Bridge from my office window. Now, when I wake up in the morning, I have a picture of the bridge above my bedside table.

-- Edward Kimball (edward.kimball@ns.sympatico.ca), March 12, 2001.

To look at things in a different way. To please myself.

-- Ellis Vener (evphoto@insync.net), March 12, 2001.

The subject usually doesn't move much while I'm setting up the camera.

-- John H. Henderson (jhende03@harris.com), March 12, 2001.

Even though posting time is probably over I can't resist sharing some thoughts that I was surprised not to have found already.

Fascination! God's creation is boundless! I can't get to the end of it! I never tire of the endless discovery of some new facet of His creation. From the Bristlecone pines at 11,500 feet to the barren waste at -386 feet just a few miles apart, and everything in-between there is always some new beauty to discover. Sometimes the discovery is so fast paced I don't have time to take a picture. Gotta see what's around the next bend.

Limits. Yes I realize my own limitation of sight. Think about it. Even with perfect vision (which I never enjoyed) we only focus clearly on a very narrow angle. We don't think about it but all but about 5 or 10 degrees of the 60 we can see with our eyes are blurry. And we can't train them to stay very long in one place. Ahhhh..............but a camera lens. A good lens can lock down so much information! Then I can get my face up as close as I want to a print, and savor each detail as long as I please. And it's ALL in focus (well at least other peoples pictures are.)

Finally, I believe God the Creator put a little bit of His creativeness in each of us! It pleasures me to try to be a mirror. To reflect a 16 X 20" piece of His creation that shouts "LOOK WHAT HE MADE" Jim Galli

-- Jim Galli (jimgalli@sierra.net), March 12, 2001.

99.98% of the humans on Earth couldn't give a damn. That's a big reason to photograph landscapes....to provide reminders of what God's creation looked like before the airports and porn stores were build by God's ultimate creation -- mankind.

-- Jason Kefover (jkefover@yorktec.sc.us), March 12, 2001.

I have been lying at home for the last three months in a hospital bed recouperating from a severely broken leg and all my photos of the West and Southwest hanging on my den walls bring a hope that I will be back photographing this beautiful world God created. I have found the beauty in lily ponds on the side of the interstate to the majestic Rockies. It gives me great satisfaction to try to capture and show the beauty of this world. Also, looking at the world upsidedown is a wonderful perspective of life. Happy shooting, Pat.

-- Pat Kearns (pat.kearns@coopertsmith.com), March 12, 2001.

I love the new word Mario has invented -- he says he was "bewatched" by an Ansel Adams picture. Perhaps we are all bewatched by the landscape.

I agree with Edward -- I make landscape pictures as an excuse to be outside.

It's as simple as that, or as deeply felt as this: I yearn for places where I cannot live. The only way I can "possess" them is through photography.

-- Sandy Sorlien (sand44@mindspring.com), March 17, 2001.

Everything has been said (nicely!) and I can identify with everything. It's nice to know there is a bunch of guys who feel and think like you out there!

-- Paul Schilliger (pschilliger@smile.ch), March 17, 2001.

I just love the whole process of photography (landscapes in particular). Go into my own world, observe, feel, smell, sett up gears, spot-metering, wait, release the shutter, process, print, etc.. More often, without making a single picture and going home empty-handed. The view camera really slows me down, allows me to make more thoughtful pictures (90 per cent failure, still). I live in a city (with limited nature reserves) and people must have thought what a fool I am wasting precious time. No money and no credit. But to me, it's just a joy to be out there with nature. Hope the world would just freeze for a long, long time.


-- Aaron (ngaaron@singnet.com.sg), March 28, 2001.

"Because it (the landscape) is there."

Note: this is a paraphrase of Edmund Hillary, not Captain Kirk (as someone I know assumed).

-- E. Grim (guivret@yahoo.com), March 29, 2001.

I got hooked on medium format landscape photography when I found myself relaxing for a change. With the point and shoot camera I used previously there's no way I would have found out what photography REALLY is. I just hope they'll keep making ilfochrome and velvia for a long time......"They" can keep the digital stuff....

-- Phil Brammer (filsta@goconnect.net), June 23, 2001.

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