Really interesting discussion... many people have hit on great points. I think Michael (Blansky) really hit it on the head when he said that all the 'people' photographers want people in the landscape to add emotion and all the 'landscape' photographers just want landscape.
But I think the real answer may be that you cannot put emotion in anything for anyone other than yourself.
For me, there are landscapes that move me almost to tears ...there is something about them that touches my soul. I very rarely see a photo with people in it that can move me like that. I'd have to say that there have been some I've seen here that have touched me in such a way.
So the right idea is that if you photograph anything that moves you emotionally, chances are fairly good that in this vast world there will be others also moved by it.
I'm with Joeyk49... if I shoot anything that resembles a 'good' photo, I am totally psyched!
I do not think that a landscape per se has emotion. A certain scape can invoke
an emotion in a person. Emotion is a characteristic of living things.
Emotions can be invoked for example by a burnt tree in a forest. a dead animal in a desert. colors, as they are associated with emotion. green for youth, vibrancy, life. etc.
I tend to think of human emotions and try to place something in the landscape
that would evoke that emotion.
I hope all this makes sense.
Ok I'm afraid adding people or other elements to a landscape will distract the viewer's attention. What's your subject? The landscape or the people? Beautiful landscapes need nothing else. The time of the day the picture is taken matters a lot, especially in very sunny places (tropics, for instance). I think people carry a far bigger emotional impact that fields or beaches, thus there's a choice to make here.
For me, a good landscape is the right combination of the location and the light. There have been numerous occasions I have taken photographs of certain places during bright sunny days which have come out "okay" as a record shot of that place but haven't conveyed any emotion.
Later in the day (or even very early in the morning) when the light is more acutely angled across the landscape (instead of being right overhead) - or even when it's chucking it down with rain, the scene can be transformed into something that makes me feel I've produced something more than just a straight record of the place.
Some years ago, I took some photos of a big refinery on Teesside. That was a seriously ugly place during the day but, with a low sun highlighting the pollution spewing forth from the chimneys, it looked beautiful - albeit still very toxic!
Paul Jenkin (a late developer...)
If you could explain how to put emotion into a landscape in a forum post, we'd all be Ansel.
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The emotion I like to evoke in my landscapes is hat the viewer would like to have been looking over my shoulder when the exposure was made or that they say "I was there but I didn't see that". Emotion is very personal - some people cry at basketball games.
I think it all depends on if you are taking a photograph or making a photograph and as others have mentioned what is it that you want to convey? Have you lost inspiration?
Sucked into an old thread!
Oh well, since I am here...
If you smile while you talk to someone on the phone, you will sound happier to them. If you want emotion in your images, then experience those emotions while photographing and printing.
Probably too simple and straight forward of an answer, but sounds a lot better to me than any technical explanations.
At least with LF landscape, a bad day of photography can still be a good day of exercise.
You only have a set amount of elements towards creating a photograph -- light, camera/accessory selection and medium (B&W, colour, etc). That's all you have to work with.
Those are what you use to bestow emotion onto a scene.
Just saw this thread. Interesting.
I think it's so simple as to be overlooked: you must first be emotionally invested in that landscape. It has to mean something to you... at a level beyond "pretty" or "dramatic." The scene has to matter to you. If you have that connection, then by all means release the shutter and be confident that others will enjoy the image as well!
Originally Posted by colrehogan
In my opinion, a more difficult question would be: how do you find emotional connection to an unfamiliar landscape, e.g. if you are travelling through a new area or don't have the time to get off the beaten track and really get the lay of the land.
What I very often see in landscape photography is a lot of "ooh" and "ah"... but no evidence of a deeper connection. I think if you look at Ragnar Axellson's work, you'll see just how much a photographer can be connected to the land and really become part of it. Then the ooh and the ahh is just icing on the [substantial] cake.
It doesn't necessarily take long to get to know the character of the land, but.... there is also no reason to expect a landscape to reveal all of its possibilities through the window of a moving car. People often mention Adams in connection with effective landscape images; well, he lived in those landscapes. They were as familiar to him as an old friend... and it shows.
P.S. The gear is just a thing. It can facilitate your conversation with the landscape... or it can come between.
P.P.S. Glancing up, I think I agree with Vaughn in all respects!
Last edited by keithwms; 10-07-2009 at 07:04 PM. Click to view previous post history.