In 1979, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York presented an exhibition of Eliot Porter's color landscape photographs. It opened my eyes to the possibilities of landscape photography, far removed from the typical snapshots of National Parks I had seen so often. For the past 30 years I have traveled around the United States to capture its beauty. Some of my images are of the "grand landscape," showing nature in its maximum splendor. Others are what Eliot Porter called the "intimate landscape," more humble scenes, that people generally walk by without noticing. Often, capturing a grand landscape requires many visits to the scene and hours of patient waiting for the best light and atmospheric conditions. While waiting for the soft and subtle light that occurs at either end of the day, I spend time seeking out more intimate compositions. As tourists, we all notice the landscapes that shout "Look at me," but often fail to see the beauty in nature's soft whispers.
Each year I dedicate a few weeks to creating unique landscape images in some of the most scenic parts of the country. While it would be easy to take hundreds of pictures during these trips, my goal is to return with a just few images, both grand and intimate, that express nature's beauty. When I first arrive at a location, I like to spend time walking around to get a feeling for the place. What emotions does it arouse? What is it about the scene that touches me? Only after doing this do I pick up my camera and work on isolating compositions that will evoke the same emotional response in others. I study the lighting, shadows, contrast, tones, lines and form, each of which contribute to creating the artistic impression.
My wife and I recently saw an exhibition at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts entitled Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese: Rivals in Renaissance Venice. The museum hung similarly-themed works by the different painters side by side, to spotlight their unique treatments of the same subject matter. Titian's choice of canvas over wood panel gave him more opportunity to show detail and texture, particularly evident in skin tones and his rendering of cloth such as velvet. Tintoretto's work, on the other hand, was less detailed and his images more contrasty and dramatic. Each made distinct artistic decisions in representing similar scenes, and thus achieved different emotional impact. The same principle applies to photography, as each photographer has the opportunity to make stylistic decisions. I want to evoke in viewers the same reaction, the same emotions that I felt when creating an image. For me, this is partly achieved by capturing all the detail and texture that I saw. I do this by choosing to use a larger format camera, mounting it on a tripod, using the finest grained film, and having high resolution scans made when converting to digital medium. When preparing each image for printing, I choose to render the colors as they were when I was there. Through these photographs I express my feelings for the locations I visit and the wonders of nature, both large and small, that I encounter along the way.