Thursday, November 27, 2014

People and landscapes

click photo to enlarge
It's my impression that most contemporary landscape photographers prefer to exclude people from their views. I struggle to find any that routinely - and deliberately - include the human form. So, in that respect, if I'm right in my judgement, I am in a minority because I often strive to include people.

Most English landscape painters of the eighteenth and nineteenth century considered their landscapes to be incomplete if there wasn't a figure or two somewhere to be found. Where people are absent an animal, domestic or wild, is used instead. Such inclusions are there as an area of focus in the composition; often a starting point for the eye's journey through the painted world the artist has laid out for the viewer. They also provide a sense of scale. And, for many artists, they say something about Nature and man's relationship to it. This is particularly so in the case of the painters of the Romantic Movement where the awe and majesty of a scene often towers over the diminutive people.

What these painters knew, and what many photographers also realise, is that the human eye and brain are adept at finding people in a landscape, whether the view is a real one or one in painted form This is probably an evolutionary trait: for millennia individuals and groups needed to be aware of other people as a potential danger and seeing them early increased their safety. Eyes became attuned to spotting the human form, and this is a trait that we still have today.

The photograph above features the view from near Hereford beacon across the nearby lowlands that includes the valley of the River Severn. As I was composing my shot I noticed a dog walker on a hill below me. When he stopped to admire the mist clearing from the patchwork of fields I seized the moment and composed my shot around him.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Camera: Nikon D5300
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 105mm (157mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f8
Shutter Speed: 1/200 sec
Exposure Compensation: -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On