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Feel the Landscape – Nature Photography

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At One with Nature

Just like an actor who becomes possessed by their character, a photographer should allow their subject matter to haunt themselves. So, if you are a landscape photographer and you want to really convey the ‘feeling’ of the land, you should allow the landscape to possess you.  A devastating mistake that most humans make is to see us as distinct, or above, the nature.  If you want to become one with the landscape, you will have to let go of this idea.

How do we do that exactly?

A professional actor would live as their character for some time. They might eat, breathe, sleep in character to the point where they become the character. In a similar way, stepping straight out of the city into the Icelandic tundras is not going to yield the same results as one who has spend several days eating, breathing and sleeping with the land. 

Kirkjufellsfoss vertical photo.

Our modern lives have taken away the need for our ability to read a landscape.  In our ‘hunter gatherer’ past, being able to read the landscape successfully would lead to a successful home-stead, a successful hunt, or a successful battle.  The visual brain of modern humans is about making sense of traffic, apartment blocks and computer screens.

Vatnjokul Glacier
A view free from carpentry.

Small Group Ice Caving

Carpentered World

In many ways, the city dweller will bring a lot of the city with them and this will be a considerable obstacle when it comes to feeling the land. In the city, we experience a ‘carpentered world view’ – our visual system adapts to be efficient in an environment with straight edges and right angles. If you live and work in the city, you will need to allow time before you can see the landscape properly.  If you are looking for straight lines, carpenter angles and some sort of architectural order to the scene, you will be missing a lot of the natural magic.

“If you want to play the blues, you have to live the blues”.

You can learn all the blues scales in existence, you can learn all the chords and time signatures, but if you can’t feel the blues, you will never get that blues sound. The same is true of photography. If you can’t feel the drama in the scene, you will have no chance of conveying the drama. You have to allow the land to possess you and then understand the significance of subtle dramatic events.

Dyrholaey lighthouse
Dyrholaey lighthouse – South Iceland.

Clear Mind

Being away from civilisation for some time can free you from the madness of day to day living.  What might emerge instead of job security, loan repayments and an overbearing boss, is an inner peace and connection to the surrounding nature.  Being in the Nature can be a great treatment for stress and if you can capture the peace in a print, you can help other’s to overcome their stress. Having a mind free of stress is really important if you want to be visually aware of the beauty surrounding you.  If you can’t shake your current stress, you might as well be walking around with your eyes closed.