Intimate Landscapes

Intimate Landscapes

When we think about landscape photographs we often imagine expansive scenes showing the grandeur of the natural world. There are many wonderful photographs depicting iconic places. They are everywhere, adorning calendars, magazines, and the electronic media. Maybe we are conditioned to think of the landscape we occupy as necessarily on a large scale. However, the definition of the word landscape is much broader than that. If we look more closely we will find a multitude of small scale landscapes that can inspire a much more intimate, and often more interesting view of the world. Also, let’s not forget that there are very few places left on earth that have not been affected by the presence of humans. Intimate landscapes do not just have to be about the natural world, they are everywhere.


I employ two main techniques when making my intimate landscape photographs. The most obvious one is to move in close to the subject. In these situations I will use a lens with a shorter focal length, typically in the 35 – 50 mm range. My other approach is to isolate the part of the scene that I wish to photograph by using a lens with a longer focal length, typically in the 70 – 300 mm range (telephoto). An interesting, and sometimes useful side-effect of telephoto lenses is the way in which they foreshorten perspective. In other words, they appear to compress the distance between the nearest and farthest parts of the scene. This can help to enhance the sense of intimacy because we feel closer to the subject than we actually are.

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