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.
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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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