Every travel photographer knows that the world is a wonderful place, of mountains, deserts, forests and lands. The problem is how to picture them with the travellers eye. Landscape is one of the great classic themes of photography, and for the whole of its history it has been married to travel photography. Nineteenth century pioneers such as John Thompson and Timothy O’Sullivan set out to show those at home what distant and unknown places looked like.
Landscape photography still contains an element of discovery, but as often as not it is a personal discovery. It is a human invention, and is the visual artist’s way of interpreting geography as an image.
When the writer Virginia Woolf was in Italy attempting to convey a sense of place, she concluded, "What one really records is the state of one’s mind." In other words, when trying to capture a scene, keep it personal and try to show what appeals to you rather than slavishly follow the accepted “ideal” viewpoints and subjects. There is no such thing as a single, perfect view, only views that have, through laziness, simply become accepted as the obvious.
Most landscapes are broad views of a place, and for the camera they tend to group them- selves into one of two camps: wide-angle and tele-photo. These two treatments both feel different and call for different technique and vision. Wide-angle landscapes are excellent at showing the full sweep of a large view, including the sky (which therefore needs to have some interest in it for the image to work at its best).
They are also capable of expanding the sense of depth in a scene by including a strong foreground — what Ansel Adams referred to as a “near-far" approach. For this, ﬁnding the exact view- point is important, one that pitches a close element, such as sunflowers in a Tuscan ﬁeld or pebbles on a beach, with a distant element that is also strong.