Posted by: kerryl29 | October 30, 2009

Details, Details

Like most–by no means all–photographers who consider themselves landscape specialists, I tend to consider the broad scenic view first when arriving at a location. To some degree, I think this is a natural–or at least typical–function of the specialty. It’s frequently the grand landscape that elicits an evident sense of emotion.

And yet, as the years have gone by, I’ve found myself more inclined to spend time at a given photographic location examining the details of a setting and creating images that emphasize these facets of a place.  While the wide angle grand landscape may produce the greatest sense of awe, the more intimate, detailed shot can produce a more subtle, nuanced and in some sense more authentic view of a spot.


Autumn Leaves, Devils Lake State Park, Wisconsin

In my estimation, the intimate view frequently requires more work–both on the part of the photographer and the viewer of the image.  While the grand landscape is typically more immediately revealing–and revealed–to both the photographer and the viewer, the intimate shot begs for a more careful examination by all involved.  The photographer must tease out the detailed shot from a broader–often much broader–scene and the viewer is occasionally required to use his/her imagination to link the intimate scene to a larger, invisible whole.


Beach Stones, Little Hunters Beach, Acadia National Park, Maine

As is often the case with those things that require extra labor, when they work they really work.  Intimate scenes full of frequently overlooked details can provide an unconscious, endemic sense of place that stems only from an image that merely hints at all that’s there.  It’s subtle, but inherent; it’s incomplete, but thought-provoking; it’s fragmented, but mind-opening.

The next time you find yourself at a beautiful spot, take an extra moment or two and search for the details that quietly tell the story without outwardly revealing all that’s there.


Spring Forest Floor, Forty Acre Rock Heritage Preserve, South Carolina


  1. Kerry — Nice post. Looking at your images, it seems that a golden spiral or triangle was seen to move from chaos to structure. I think these close ups or intimate images lend themselves to a chaotic structure like a spiral. Of course, it could be that I am seeing patterns/rules everywhere now. 🙂 –Tom

  2. Thanks, Tom.

    Triangles, certainly. The triangular pattern of the leaves in the first image is obvious; it’s a bit more subtle with the beach stones (look at the three pinkish “speckled egg” stones) and debatable in the forest floor image (the pattern of the pine cones and/or the Carolina Jasmine blossoms?).

    There was no conscious attempt to showcase a golden spiral pattern in any of the images, but one of the things about the golden spiral that has made it a target of such historical intrigue is its presumed naturally aesthetically pleasing characteristics. It’s the sort of thing, I must assume, that we find it attractive even if we don’t recognize its presence. Maybe that’s the case here… 🙂


  3. […] discussed a focus on detail-oriented landscape photography on this blog in the past.  And I’ve hinted that my experience learning the craft (or […]

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