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The “Intimate Landscape”

Connie Cassinetto (Via the Lens)

Keywords: connie_cassinetto, landscape

I’m a big fan of the “intimate landscape” image.  Some might refer to this type of shot simply as a “close-up” shot and I can call it that as well, but if it is a shot with a subject in nature I like to use the “intimate landscape” terminology. Everyone knows what the term “landscape” refers to, that over-arching shot that encompasses a wide scene of a natural subject, i.e., trees, water, mountains, sky—in general with some type of focal point or identified area of subject. But what about the “scene within a scene” in that larger landscape, what do we call that?  It’s that composition that I call an intimate landscape.  

The intimate landscape appeals to me as I like to get up-close and personal with my subjects and I tend to like images with a more well-defined subject when possible.  I don’t like to leave my viewer guessing too much about what they are actually seeing but I do like the composition to, hopefully, tell some sort of story.  I find these types of scenes to be more challenging for me than the larger overall landscape scene.  

“Spring Blooms.” Nikon Z7, 85 mm f/1.8S lens, ISO 100, f/5, 1/100, handheld. When I saw this intimate scene I was drawn to several elements of composition; color, repetition, line, and depth in the scene. I chose f/5 to help blur out the background to create a sense of distance in the shot. Using a fixed f/1.8 lens helped with depth of field as well, creating a soft blurred background that still contained all of the lines and textures and a sense of replication with the third bud in the back. This image took very little processing as the early morning light was nearly perfect. I just had to find the composition that I liked.
Click for an enlargement


If I’m out in nature with my camera seeking out scenes to photograph I will generally stop in an area and simply look all around me, up and down, in the trees and rocks, behind as well as in front of me. Being in a hurry can cause you to miss a wonderful opportunity for a unique shot that is hidden away.  I’m looking for that composition within a composition, that smaller scene that gets some point across or hopefully tells some story in nature.  

I look for compositional elements; elements like color, layering, line and leading line, shape, contrast, pattern, unity, depth and so on down the list of what could be considered an element of composition in photography.  I’m always looking for a main subject that, hopefully, can be quickly discovered and viewed and, with any luck, conveys some sort of small story about nature.  I don’t quibble over what one or the other person might call an “element of art” or an “element of photography” as there are many opinions on this if you do an online search.  The message for me is to know all of the potential tools I can use to create the shot I want, the one I see in my mind as I push the shutter.  


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Connie Cassinetto (Via the Lens) on January 14, 2021

Ribbon awarded for her valuable contributions to the Articles Section.

Hi Brett, thank you. It's nice to take the smaller, more intimate shots sometimes; in fact, I do like them better, most of the time, than larger landscapes. But I would never describe myself as a landscape photographer, although I do take landscape shots. Good luck with your shooting.

Brett Probert (BrettProbert) on January 11, 2021

Thanks for the inspiration. I have a similar taste in photography!

Connie Cassinetto (Via the Lens) on December 17, 2020

Ribbon awarded for her valuable contributions to the Articles Section.

Bo and Charles, thank you so much for your comments. It is a challenge for all of us this year and we can only hope that next year is better for all of us to get out and photograph the things we love. Charles, I am glad I can offer inspiration to you and others and I think we all need to do that for our photographer friends, too. Nature "lifts me up" in all of its forms and I think it can do that for others, too.

Charles Crabb (CharlesD750) on December 16, 2020

Donor Ribbon awarded for his very generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015

Great writing, and excellent work, Connie. And it's always wonderful to read someone to whom I similarly think, and who inspires me to create, as you do here. I agree with you on so many points; approaching nature, shooting in RAW format and the use of Lightroom. These are tools to render what we felt about a certain moment. It's interesting to ponder your comment about "the landscape within the landscape." You're right: In addition to "the big picture", there are elements in nature that draw us to them with their approachable line, form, texture and tone. Certainly, Half Dome is dramatic, but nature has design in its many parts, as Robert Frost might say. In this year of Covid, I've been able to go to the many parks and gardens nearby and find those embedded objects to photograph. Here's to great photography for all, and, my deepest thanks to you, Connie.

Bo Stahlbrandt (bgs) on December 15, 2020

bgs is one of the two co-founders of Nikonians, with in-depth knowledge in several areas Awarded for his valuable Nikon product reviews at the Resources

Thanks for writing this, Connie! Very inspiring :-)