I have found that most landscape/nature photos fit into two different categories, open or closed. Open images are those that show a large expanse complete with atmospheric conditions. When printed large and displayed on a wall, an open image will appear like a window. By contrast, a closed image is one that mostly does not show atmospheric conditions, but rather shows a more focused view of a location. These images are usually taken with a longer lens. When printed large and placed on a wall, these photos will have a more “closed” feeling, giving the feeling that you have a window that has a view of the building right next to you. I find that closed images can have a more abstract, artistic value. However, they don’t give the “breath of fresh air” feeling when viewed.
If you browse through my Limited Series gallery, you will see that the vast majority of my images are what I would consider closed images. They will print beautifully, but they will not give the “window to the world” feel when printed very large.
Many of the famous landscape photographers are known for creating very open, and atmospheric photos. However, so many of these “big” locations have been photographed so much that any other photos of that location will simply be labeled as mimicry, or cliché.
In the age of digital photography where so many photographs are taken, there are very few places left that have uncharted grand vistas. In order to produce images that have not been seen a thousand times before, I have been seeking closed images in the past year. Sure, you will see many icon locations in my gallery, but you will probably also find some where the location is not immediately apparent. As the years pass, the small scale scenes will change faster than the large scale scenes. Therefore, it is possible to take truly original photos that might not be possible years down the line. A small slope may erode, or a bush might die before a mountain will disappear.
My quest is to ultimately capture many more open images, but that will depend on unique weather conditions in some of my favorite locations. My goal for 2010 is to place a greater emphasis on open images in addition to my love of closed images.