Landscape Photography

As discussed in the “What is Landscape” survey posted to Facebook, there are many interpretations of the term “landscape.” However abstract the term becomes, they all seem to reference the vast open space of our land. During the process of assembling these thoughts on “landscape” and what the terms convey, the following artist’s work comes to mind.

Among the most notable visual representations of “landscape” are the images of Ansel Adams. He became famous through his craft and the images he created of our natural world. The work of Adams represents the denotation of “landscape.”

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Ansel Adams EXAMPLES: The Making of 40 Photographs

Tetons Snake River Moonrise Hernandez-1941 Ansel Adams Sand Dunes

We are all familiar with the landscape work of Ansel Adams to a certain degree, his rich blacks and perfectly balanced tones. His work shows the vast open splendor of our natural world. However, there are other notable photographers whose work falls within the genre of “landscape” while blurring its boundary lines forcing viewers to reconsider space and our environment.

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Similar to the work of Adams is the work of Art Wolf and Colin Prior. Their work exemplifies the vastness of our untouched world in an elegant display, only their images are filled with color. Their work is also a good example of the denotation of “landscape.”

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In the work of Edward Weston we see a transition from the more denoted pictures of the land to the abstraction of the human figure in such a way as to resemble the landscape. We also see the images that inspired this perspective of the human form.


Edward Burtynsky takes a traditional approach to documenting the landscape, only his images reveal the hand of mankind and his effects on our world. His work is visually stunning and yet grotesque. Viewers are drawn into the work through the beauty of the print and sheer size (30″ x 40″) while repulsed by the grandness of man’s impact on our planet. Burtynsky’s work captures mounds of tires as if they were the rolling foothills of the Sierras. He captures streams of nickel tailings as if they were natural lava flows. And he reveals the deconstruction of our open space as man exploits Earth’s bounty.

Nickel_Tailings_31Oxford Tire Pile No. 5, Westley, California 1999Nickel_Tailings_34

Moving in a direction toward the abstraction of landscape we see the work of Noah Wilson. In his Aberrations Series we see what appears to be mythical landscapes. In these images the viewer is left standing with a certain level of curiosity about what has happened in this “land.” In his series titled, Partial Landscapes we see latent images that appear shrouded in a fog, incomplete and hyper real. The images seem too bright to view causing his viewers to squint in an attempt to discover missing information.



In his statement above, Kevin Powers referenced images that he has created where the human body was photographed in such a way as to “no longer resemble that which it is.” By isolating the surface of the skin with an extreme close-up photograph, this image titled, “Self Portrait, Poison Oak Blister” resembles active lava flows or the surface of another planet.


The term landscape loosely describes the land in which we travel. My interest is in how “land” changes with each of your valuable ideas. What are your notions of landscape?



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