The other day I took the book, Landmark: The Fields of Landscape Photography by William A. Ewing, out of the library. In his preface the author says,
I am always amazed… how little interest is shown in what are now easily accessible landscapes – by train, plane, or car – places that most of our ancestors could never have dreamt of seeing first-hand. Recently I found my self looking down at the Northwest Passage from the comfort of a jumbo jet en route from Vancouver to London, arcing over the Pole. The scene was lit by moonlight and the landscape was vividly clear. Not much more than a hundred years ago, this passage was still elusive – one was known to exist, but not precisely where. Here we were floating right over it, feet up, drinks in hand. And yet my fellow passengers had their shades drawn, glued to the apparently far more alluring scenes on their screens in front of them. (I have noted how airlines routinely advertise travel by showing passengers sleeping blissfully – a promise of total sensory deprivation; traversing actual landscapes is seen as inconvenient, the less seen the better.)
How I wish planes did not have window shades, all together. People who prefer darkness could be given eye masks. The rest of us would happily look outside at the land- and cloud-scapes. There’s as much to see at 36,000 feet above ground as there is on terra firma. As for me, I just want to watch out the window as I cross the earth.
I have never considered landscape photography something I “do” nor a genre in which I am seriously interested. Yet, as I review my images of the last few years, I notice that I have taken my fair share of landscape photographs. Apparently, not only do I like “being” in the natural world, I like taking pictures of it from time to time. Looking through Ewing’s book, and other photography books I have, it is evident that the groundwork for landscape photography is as varied as the world itself and that imagery of landscape includes all forms of the man-made. Sometimes, my photographs are devoid of human figures but they are, nonetheless, often pregnant with human presence.