View Full Version : People in Lanscapes; Yes or No?

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01-15-2009, 06:04 PM
It depends on your pre-visualization.

01-15-2009, 06:21 PM
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.

01-16-2009, 12:31 PM
It depends on your pre-visualization.

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? ;)


01-20-2009, 10:11 PM
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.

01-20-2009, 11:09 PM
Sometimes the image would lose a lot without a person. Viz:

Drew B.
01-21-2009, 09:06 AM
I think a person in a landscape is ok if they are situated correctly....ie...

01-21-2009, 12:53 PM

01-21-2009, 01:34 PM


01-21-2009, 02:38 PM
Thanks...when photographing on dunes (Eureka Dunes in this case) with someone, one has to keep close together to make sure that one does not mess up a potential image with foot prints. We had come straight up this dune and while Bruce set up his 4x5, I walked along the dune (keeping to the backside in case we aimed our cameras back to this dune later) and took his photo while waiting to move on. It makes a nice 16x20 (4x5 neg). The above image is just a scan of a quick contact print.

We did end up on he top of the far dune...though the wind had come up by then -- and I got a great image with blowing sand near the top despite the wind.


01-21-2009, 03:01 PM
We did end up on he top of the far dune...though the wind had come up by then -- and I got a great image with blowing sand near the top despite the wind.


How many lenses have you sandblasted?

01-21-2009, 03:28 PM
None...yet. Fortunately, in the image near the top of the dune, the sand was blowing at ground level through a "pass" between the top of the dune and a ridge. I might be able to scan the image tonight and post it here -- though it is getting off topic, as it has no people in it (except for the photographer -- who is always in the photograph!) Vaughn

02-06-2009, 06:59 PM
In general, though not exclusively, I prefer my scenes with people. If I'm being specific, I like the idea of ancient and immutable landscapes juxtaposed with the fleeting lives and movements of the people within them. The work of Joe Cornish, Charlie Waite etc, although technically superb, leaves me feeling cold, emotionally detatched and strangely depressed. Certainly, in Britain, the landscape is very rarely true wilderness; so much of it having been transformed, shaped, primped and preened by human agency. Therefore why seek to expunge all trace of humanity? In many cases we created the landscape, and we are a natural part of it. Why go to a zoo and photograph the architecture?

02-06-2009, 07:25 PM
Why go to a zoo and photograph the architecture?

Well put.

I have witnessed, on several occasions, people going to extraordinary lengths at places like death valley to obtain photographs with no evidence of humanity in them. If you just step out onto the dunes, you can hear people cursing. How dare someone leave footprints on my dunes!

I suppose some photographers would like to give the impression, in their photographs, that they have discovered an entirely new scene. You know, walk 20 feet firm your car with a big camera and tripod and try to get an image that looks like you actually explored new terrain ;) ...as if landscape photography were an act of claiming or owning.

11-27-2010, 12:24 PM
In general, people are a distraction in a landscape. With practice you can become skilled at "getting rid" of people (and I don't mean running at them screaming "leprosy, unclean!!!"). Wait until they step behind a tree, reposition yourself slightly, etc. It takes some thought and practice, but the results are well worth it.

That being said, a single person caught unawares in a particular location or physical attitude can really add to the composition. But these situations are really pretty rare. What a happy day it will be when that ridiculous photo class aphorism of "always include a person in your photographs" is put to rest. Anyone who can't compose a shot without sticking a person in it needs to get another hobby!

11-27-2010, 12:41 PM
I have so many images where a person or people enhanced the sense of scale and meaning of the actual location. I have many shots of Grand Canyon area like this. Without people, magnitude of scale is unimaginable and without people, the fact that it is a popular tourist location isn't apparent. (I have one that people are basically crawling all over the place) I'd post a sample but it was digitally captured, so I wont.

I also have shots where I waited (for a long time) for people to go out of the view.

I think, as long as your views and pre-visualization permits them and they aren't doing anything disturbing (like picking their noses), people can enhance landscape images. So as always, my answer is "it depends!"

11-27-2010, 12:53 PM
Sometimes, just a hint of "people" is all you really need

12-01-2010, 02:21 PM
Isn't this basically a "Landscape photo" vs. "Environmental portrait" discussion?

Christopher Walrath
12-01-2010, 03:16 PM
I'm generally in line here. Landscapes are preferably (to me) just that, LANDscapes.

I can only think of one exception, presently. My mother made a fantastic vertical composition of very tall standing pines in Beaver Creek SP in Ohio some years back. She included my brother in the photograph. Totally against all rules. The row was dead center, destroying the rule of thirds. And the was a man it it. But he is so small compared to the setting that he is a poigniant scale within the subject. Actually adds power to the shot.

So, in short, no. With exceptions, rare though they may be.

Gerald C Koch
12-01-2010, 03:39 PM
In my gadget bag alongside the wire filter is a people filter. Pop it on the lens and people will no longer be visible in the photo. :)

Christopher Walrath
12-02-2010, 01:33 PM
WIRE FILTER! Where can I get one?