The history of landscape photography is closely tied to the history of exploration. When I heard this, it changed my whole perspective on landscape photography. A light bulb went off and landscape photography went from ho-hum to interesting.
And this book, River of Shadows: Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West by Rebecca Solnit, immediately went onto my 'must read' list.
Eadweard Muybridge was one of the first photographers to capture the essence of a place and time through movement. He was born before the birth of photography and died after the advent of motion pictures, his worked was heavily influenced by the time in which he lived. Innovation and speed played a huge role is his perspective.
One of the most influential and best known landscape photographers is Ansel Adams, revered for his awe inspiring images of Yosemite national park.
"Ansel Adams wanted the viewer to feel what he felt when he pushed the button.... He wanted to provide the public a glimpse of the unique beauty of America's wildest places and in so doing, protect those finite resources." (outdoorphotography.com, "Landscape Masters Through Time")
Even if you don't aspire to be a professional photographer, seeing our changing landscapes through this lens can turn a hike into an adventure. Like this day I headed to the hills of Marin with my son and his buddy, not only was the landscape transient so are these little guys who will someday, God willing, be men. I treasure this view!
So the next time you are out and taking photos, ask yourself; what am I responding to? What is it about this scene that has captured my interest, my heart, is creating awe, has me mesmerized? Is it the magnitude of something? Is it the colors? Is it the texture? The expanse? The light? The mood? The movement?
Knowing the answer will help you capture the essence of what you are seeing and feeling and will help create an experience for the viewer. It's why we love to look at photos. We get to see someone else's perspective and how they see the world.