Landscape

"Photography helps people to see." Berenice Abbott

Landscape photography may be hugely popular but it takes a lot of skill, time and patience to be able to produce an arresting image.

Successful landscape photographers use simplicity and variety as a formula where tones and textures offset each other. This could be an empty sky over a sea of buildings, or conversely, a dramatic sky above desert sands.

An object is used to break up this simple composition and inform the image by bringing in a third element to evoke questions and intrigue.

German couple, Bernd and Hilla Becher, who worked together as conceptual artists and photographers are well known for their photographic work of industrial landscapes. The Bechers focused on structures within the composition and how they relate to each other. Care was taken to eliminate all other detail that would detract from their focus, even down to eliminating shadows by shooting on overcast days and printing on low contrast paper.

Ansel Adams, the polar opposite of the Bechers, used high contrast and dramatic skies and scenery to take you into a world of pattern, shape and texture, where individual objects cease to exist.

As in portrait photography, the rule of three applies to the composition, either horizontally or vertically. However, unlike portrait photography, shooting landscapes is less instinctive and more studied, as there is not such a strong connection between the subject and photographer.

It has famously been said that as it is impossible to capture a landscape perfectly, we may as well not bother, and that it is better to consign what we see to memory. This illustrates just why the landscape photographer needs to look and study, and then interpret the scene in their own way, much like Impressionist painters do.

And this is also why landscape photography is such a difficult yet delightful challenge.

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