People in Lanscapes; Yes or No?

Discussion in 'Landscape' started by Paul Jenkin, Jan 10, 2009.

  1. Paul Jenkin

    Paul Jenkin Member

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    This question always more difficult when talking about 'urban landscapes' as that genre is more about man's influence on the landscape and the interaction of people with towns and cities themselves.

    Therefore, although there's no 'right or wrong' answer to the question but do you prefer your landscapes with or without people in the frame?

    Personally, if I'm in the wild somewhere, I prefer not to have anything or anyone in the frame that takes my eye off what I'm trying to shoot - especially if it's clad in luminous Goretex...!

    How about you?
     
  2. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Usually no, but sometimes if it can't be avoided or occasionally where I feel it might add something. But most definitely not anyone who is with me.

    I only shoot Industrial/Archaeological landscapes some in the countryside others are Urban, all show man's influences on the landscape.

    Ian
     
  3. MurrayMinchin

    MurrayMinchin Membership Council

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    I prefer my landscapes unpeopled, and will even try to keep clear cuts, power lines, or highways out of the frame too. Where I live is so sparsely populated, and the places where I usually photograph are so seldom trod, that in 30 years of photographing I can't remember one time when I had to wait for somebody to exit a composition. True wilderness is so close at hand that that's what my photographs are about, not how people have impacted it.

    I do have a few with fishing boats off in the distance, but they are rare exceptions.

    Murray
     
  4. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    What he said.

    I will rarely include people. When I do it is because they are needed for scale or because I cannot get them out of the photograph. If I keep people out of the landscape, then there are no indicators of the time or date of the landscape.

    Steve
     
  5. VaryaV

    VaryaV Member

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    Depends on what you are trying to say with your vision.
     
  6. dpurdy

    dpurdy Subscriber

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    As soon as a person is in the landscape, regardless of how small, the person becomes the subject. I personally don't want that. For me photography is not a study of people though it seems for most photographers, people are the most compelling and important subjects. IMO
    Dennis
     
  7. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    what she said ...
     
  8. Shmoo

    Shmoo Member

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    I'm one who prefers it...just my tastes, but people in the image gives a sense of perspective (relative height, width, space), and movement. But like Varya said, it depends upon YOUR vision.
     
  9. Toffle

    Toffle Member

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    This is whers an ND-400 would come in handy. With a long enough exposure you can shoot to your heart's content, regardless of the odd passersby. I know a fellow who uses one quite regularly, and I've never seen a hint of ghosting in his prints.

    Cheers,
     
  10. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    There are very few pure (un-peopled, un-animal'd, un-tracked) grand landscape shots that I really like.

    Yeah sure they're purdy and all that, but most just won't hold my attention, they feel kinda like hotel room art. :tongue:

    The ones that do keep my attention have something that is either fleeting or moving.

    Two examples;

    1-In NW NM Shiprock is an amazing sight and it's not tough to get it in great light and with a great sky with a bit of planning and patience, wait for the monsoons and have at it, you'll probably get something real nice with great color, texture, and sky. That said, there is only one shot I've seen of Shiprock that really stands out for me, it was done in B&W and has a cloud flowing over the top, a moody sky behind, and the print is stunning in detail, contrast, and quality. The weather for this particular shot is truly an oddity, the motion is palpable, and the quality is over the top.

    2-Ocean coastlines with weather and waves that are framing or supporting the shot. Calm or Violent doesn't make a difference, I grew up close to the ocean and just have a soft spot there. Even still adding a human element or an animal takes it to the next level.
     
  11. phc

    phc Member

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    This really is a question of "horses for courses" as my Dad would have said. It has to come down to individual compositions. If you're going for the 'hotel room art' look (thanks Mark!) - and many people do love that stuff - then I think people are out.

    However, I like to see the balance between people and the country in my own pictures.

    [​IMG]
    Morella, Spain. August 2003.

    [​IMG]
    Belgrade, Serbia. February 2004.

    I guess I'm cheating really, as these pictures end up not being pure landscapes. More accurately they're pictures of people in their environment.

    Cheers, Paul.
     
  12. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    I kinda like my landscapes without people, but that is just me. There are exceptions though.

    Jeff
     
  13. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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  15. Vaughn

    Vaughn Member

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    Sometimes they sneak in there...
    But not very often...People and obvious signs of human presence are sometimes included as a delibrate part of the image (silly me -- everything in my images is included on purpose). Except for the series of my boys in the environment, I have included "strangers" only once in a finished print...though I have included signs of human presence (roads, buildings, etc) more often.

    left to right (all platinum/palladium)
    Three shadows, Luffenholtz Beach, 2 1/4"
    Three Boys, Yosemite NP, 8x10
    Three Boys, Three Snags, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, 8x10
     

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  16. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    I think people (or evidence of people, e.g. roads, buildings etc) can lend tremendous emotional power to landscapes, as well as providing important scale cues. Scale and perspective cues are extremely important in landscape photography, of course, unless one is going for complete abstraction.

    The bottom line for me is that I want the viewer to experience a real connection to a landscape. Sometimes one has to find a way to let the viewer experience the scale, if only vicariously, through an actual participant in the scene. I think viewers have a tremendous capacity for sympathetic feelings when they see what others are experiencing, and that line of thinking usually motivates me when I try to include people and evidence of people.
     
  17. SilverGlow

    SilverGlow Member

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    A person or people can show scale, size in a composition. A fisherman near a lake can work, as it "matches". I think it depends on the comp, and for some including people enhances, or distracts.
     
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  18. DWThomas

    DWThomas Subscriber

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    I generally prefer without, but as a number of others have suggested, a figure can provide a sense of scale or provide a point of connection for the viewer and occasionally I have done that. Of course at some hot tourist spots, you have trouble getting the masses of humanity out of the way anyhow!

    DaveT
     
  19. bowzart

    bowzart Member

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    Murray,

    How about bears? They sort of look like people in fur coats when they are standing up.
     
  20. nze

    nze Member

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    A human form ma help to give size to the landscape and with a good composition it won't isturb the image. Personally I appreciate pinhole landscape with some human shadow in it
     
  21. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    I'll just add that I recently wrote a little mini-review here of Ragnar Axelsson's book and actually, that's a fine example of what people can do for a landscape photograph.
     
  22. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

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    It depends on your pre-visualization.
     
  23. bowzart

    bowzart Member

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    Don't you think we tend to define "landscape" overly rigidly? A landscape is a landscape whether anyone is in it or not. If someone is in it maybe it is a landscape with a person in it. In fact, I'm going to walk through a landscape in a few minutes to get to my truck, and then I'm going to drive through a lot of landscape to get to my job.

    We tend to see in very conventionalized ways. Whether we are aware of it or not, the "landscape" we are shooting just might be a match between what we see in front of us and a template formed through exposure to many landscape photographs done by others. It is very hard to break out of that box. Sometimes it helps, for me, to actually play with my likes and dislikes. Who knows, they just might change.
     
  24. Vaughn

    Vaughn Member

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    Is that what we see before we open our eyes? Or perhaps more accurately, what we see (or think) before we start picturing it in our minds? :wink:

    Vaughn
     
  25. ChuckP

    ChuckP Subscriber

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    I seem to remember seeing something about Wynn Bullock's Child in the Forest. When he was setting up the camera he recalled the advice of his camera club print judge to always include a person in the landscape. And so a great career was born.
     
  26. bowzart

    bowzart Member

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    Sometimes the image would lose a lot without a person. Viz:
     

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