Modern Trends in Landscape Photography

Our Discerning Photographer Flickr group reflects the range and diversity present in modern landscape photography. (Copyright 2010 / Andrew Boyd)

Our Discerning Photographer Flickr group reflects the range and diversity present in modern landscape photography. (Copyright 2010 / Andrew Boyd)

I’ve received a positive response, both in comments and offline in email, to the article I posted last week aggregating some landscape photography resources. This got me thinking about assembling a group of landscape photographs as a post. The idea that interested me was to limit the photographers featured to those that are members of our Discerning Photographer Flickr pool.

This has turned into a truly rewarding little field trip for me, venturing out literally all over the world as I looked through the photostreams of our members. What follows are some of my favorite images that the group has shot, along with some selected comments about the photographs and the trends that I see represented.

I think our group is large enough to be a ‘scientifically valid’ sample of what’s happening in landscape photography today. The results may surprise you! This is where landscape photography stands in 2010.

First: some classic black and white photography.

When I think about landscape photography, the first photographer that comes to mind is the granddaddy of them all, Ansel Adams. There are still some photographers out there concentrating on black and white landscape work, and we have (at least) one of them in our group:  Nurse Kato (all names listed here are Flickr names) from Washington State, U.S. Here are three of his images:

"When I Close My Eyes" by Nurse Kato.(http://www.flickr.com/photos/25978351@N07/4170012176/sizes/o/)

"When I Close My Eyes" by Nurse Kato.(http://www.flickr.com/photos/25978351@N07/4170012176/sizes/o/)

"Angels and Demons" by Nurse Kato.(http://www.flickr.com/photos/25978351@N07/3645494960/sizes/o/in/set-72157612530504022/)

Untitled, by Nurse Kato.(http://www.flickr.com/photos/25978351@N07/3271334368/sizes/o/in/set-72157612530504022/)

Kato modestly states on his Flickr page: “Black and white is my personal favorite. I sure do enjoy a good color image but I guess I just don’t see colors properly or something.”

Trend #2: The Influence of HDR

This was one of the most striking things that surfaces when looking at quantities of landscape photography from diverse sources: the powerful attraction that so many photographers feel for HDR shooting. Since this technique became so easy to implement in Photoshop, there has been an explosion of work done using this method. Question to consider: when does the HDR technique work, when is it a gimmick or crutch?  Here are some samples from our pool:

"Foto 0672" by Inigo Aspirez.(http://www.flickr.com/photos/iaspirez/4133906224/sizes/m/in/pool-1182517@N23/)

"Foto 0672" by Inigo Aspirez.(http://www.flickr.com/photos/iaspirez/4133906224/sizes/m/in/pool-1182517@N23/)

"Calor polar - Cala Tarida - Ibiza 2008" by Joseeivissa(http://www.flickr.com/photos/joseeivissa/4254351745/sizes/o/in/set-72157623158042271/)

"Calor polar - Cala Tarida - Ibiza 2008" by Joseeivissa(http://www.flickr.com/photos/joseeivissa/4254351745/sizes/o/in/set-72157623158042271/)

Question to consider: when does the HDR technique work, when is it a gimmick or crutch?

"Cabin1b"  by Danny Bourque. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/dannokablammo/524027193/in/set-72157600246810166/)

"Cabin1b" by Danny Bourque. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/dannokablammo/524027193/in/set-72157600246810166/)

"Myrtles Plantation" by Danny Bourque. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/dannokablammo/3435073421/in/set-72157600246810166/)

"Myrtles Plantation" by Danny Bourque. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/dannokablammo/3435073421/in/set-72157600246810166/)

Autumn Sunrise in the forest of childhood dreams, nothing has changed ... in the forest - Missano , Via Fontanazzo.. (zocca modena italy) by Masotti Primo. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/masotti-primo/4046592337/in/set-72157622820476607/)

Autumn Sunrise in the forest of childhood dreams, nothing has changed ... in the forest - Missano , Via Fontanazzo.. (zocca modena italy) by Masotti Primo. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/masotti-primo/4046592337/in/set-72157622820476607/)

"Seychelles without you" by Stephane Dufief. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/penarbed/4460387688/in/photostream/)

"Seychelles without you" by Stephane Dufief. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/penarbed/4460387688/in/photostream/)

"Twilight - Porzh Goulom" by Stephane Dufief. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/penarbed/4484508080/)

"Twilight - Porzh Goulom" by Stephane Dufief. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/penarbed/4484508080/)

Trend #3: The Use of Texture

This is another popular Photoshop-based trend: layering on textures to create moods within photographs.  An Italian photographer in our group, Duarja,  has perfected his method and uses it to create dense, dream-like images. Here are three examples:

"Roads that open and close" by Duarja.(http://www.flickr.com/photos/34238858@N00/3895677661/sizes/l/in/set-72157594588096558/)

"Roads that open and close" by Duarja.(http://www.flickr.com/photos/34238858@N00/3895677661/sizes/l/in/set-72157594588096558/)

"Come on, wherever the heart leads" by Duarja. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/34238858@N00/3923409798/sizes/l/in/set-72157594588096558/)

"Come on, wherever the heart leads" by Duarja. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/34238858@N00/3923409798/sizes/l/in/set-72157594588096558/)

"The Reason for the Wind,": by Duarja. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/34238858@N00/2822331758/sizes/l/in/set-72157621382353171/)

"The Reason for the Wind,": by Duarja. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/34238858@N00/2822331758/sizes/l/in/set-72157621382353171/)

Trend #4: Bumping Up the Saturation

Here’s another trend that lots of photographers are utilizing: increasing the saturation, or in a RAW workflow, bumping up the vibrance and/or  saturation, to really make the colors pop. This is another one of those toning techniques that some people love, other people see as an overused, trite gimmick. Here are a couple of examples from our shooters:

"Where the River Meets the Lake," by LPS129. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/kozmokat/3042198293/sizes/l/in/set-72157607833672837/)

"Where the River Meets the Lake," by LPS129. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/kozmokat/3042198293/sizes/l/in/set-72157607833672837/)

"Aiguilles de Baulmes (VD)" by Mathieu GUY. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/camerone/4404107742/sizes/m/in/pool-1182517@N23/)

"Aiguilles de Baulmes (VD)" by Mathieu GUY. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/camerone/4404107742/sizes/m/in/pool-1182517@N23/)

Trend #5: Beautiful straight-up (more or less) landscape photography

Finally, just some great images! There may be a bit of the various toning techniques illustrated above in this final group of photographs, but it’s always subtle. Take a look:

"Nordvikvågen Utsira" by Atgrims. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/17853411@N00/309859181/sizes/l/in/set-72157594193904875/)

"Nordvikvågen Utsira" by Atgrims. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/17853411@N00/309859181/sizes/l/in/set-72157594193904875/)

Photo by Martin Zalba. "No HDR." (http://www.flickr.com/photos/martinzalba/4138097723/sizes/o/)

"Bardenas en Junio" by Martin Zalba. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/martinzalba/2560088925/sizes/o/in/set-72157613007382188/)

"Bardenas en Junio" by Martin Zalba. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/martinzalba/2560088925/sizes/o/in/set-72157613007382188/)

"Bardenas de Navarra" by Martin Zalba. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/martinzalba/2562656638/sizes/o/in/set-72157613007382188/)

"Bardenas de Navarra" by Martin Zalba. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/martinzalba/2562656638/sizes/o/in/set-72157613007382188/)

24 novembre 2009 - (zocca modena italy) by Masotti Primo. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/masotti-primo/4131591434/in/set-72157622820476607/)

24 novembre 2009 - (zocca modena italy) by Masotti Primo. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/masotti-primo/4131591434/in/set-72157622820476607/)

"Today It Rained" by Romorga. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/romorgan/4209341402/sizes/l/)

"Today It Rained" by Romorga. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/romorgan/4209341402/sizes/l/)

Summing Up.

I’m awe-struck by the amount of talent and energy on display here within our Flickr group! Hats off to all of you landscape shooters who’ve contributed your photographs. We’re all in your debt as your images enrich our lives and make our photographic community all the stronger.

Hi, I’m Andrew Boyd, a.k.a. The Discerning Photographer, and I hope this post has been interesting and informative. Please leave me a comment about it, let me know what you’d like to see more of on the site! You can also sign up for email delivery of all future articles or my RSS feed. Thanks!–DiscerningPhotog

Related articles on the web:

Five Fantastic Flickr Photographers at Epic Edits

50 Breathtaking Waterscapes to Inspire and Amaze at Phototuts+

What Every Landscape Photographer Should Know About Lenses at Lightstalking

Landscapes of the Spirit at The Luminous Landscape

Posted in: Landscape

About the Author:

Photographer, videographer and photo editor. Host and creator of The Discerning Photographer web site. Currently a Canon shooter.

32 Comments on "Modern Trends in Landscape Photography"

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  1. Atle Grimsby says:

    Uplifting beeing mentioned in this nice article with my Utsira photo. I’we allso noticed the bumping up the saturation. Looks great in some landscapephotos, but not allways so great in detail shots of birds and flowers and so one. Thanks for the interesting post and the use of my photo 🙂

  2. Sam Scholes says:

    Nice overview of the trends in landscape photography. Those are the same things I’ve noticed too. Like all trends or techniques some do it well and others don’t. HDR for example is often overused in my opinion and most often poorly used.

  3. sil says:

    Really beautiful images! Great article!

  4. A very timely post, at least for me. Jazz Fest turned me into a saturation junkie, and it’s truly a hard habit to break. Certainly, a bit of saturation bump works in proper context, but I would use the word crutch as well as gimmick.
    I’ve been trying some different things lately, but adding that little pop is hard to resist. And I’m certain Jazz Fest will once again take on the look of an acrylic painting.
    Good post, it’s important to examine one’s own work critically from time to time. As a friend once told me, “You are the only person you compete with on a daily basis.”

  5. Andrew says:

    Photoshop truly is our darkroom now. There aren’t any rules, just what works and what doesn’t….it’s finding where that line is from one image to the next that’s part of our challenge today.

  6. sarah says:

    Thank you for posting these incredible images! It makes me want to grab my camera and head outside right now. I have been following Peter Lik’s work lately and getting a lot of inspiration from his pieces, if you haven’t seem his work check out his blog: http://blog.peterlik.com/

  7. alex says:

    Very inspirational! But we should be setting the trends not following. HDR is now done to death, even by me (!), saturation so overused especially with wedding photographers…I attribute it all to CSI Miami (full details on my site). But what other techniques can we implement to influence the rest of the pack?

    If we lose our originality then as an artform we begin to lose our value and cachet, because everyone sees the same thing everywhere, photography becomes hohum and “the same, then it becomes a commodity.”

    Just my 2 cents!

    alex

  8. There are some beautiful images. HDR is like any technique – great when it’s done well, awfull when it’s not. I especially liked the layering of textures by Darja – very original indeed. How does he do it?

  9. Some nice examples. Some of them look over saturated or over HDR’d if there is such a word!

  10. Joseeivissa says:

    Hi, just notice that “calor polar” is not an HDR, just worked on Lightroom.
    Best regards
    José.

  11. Gabor says:

    +1 for HDR being overused and/or misused. On the other hand, blending different exposures can be very useful in landscape photography, you just have to keep the look natural.

  12. Some of these images took my breath away, simply stunning. 24 Nov 09 by Massotti Primo and calor polar-cala tarida by Joseeivissa and beautiful. I would love to have these on canvas in my home.

  13. Tayna says:

    Stunning! I’m a beginner so much of the technical jargon was over my head but I’m trying to learn. The B&W photos here reminds me of Ansel Adams. Very inspiring and I’ll learn a lot from this site.

  14. Perfect example of brilliant photography. They’re one of the best photos i’ve ever seen. Great talent and technique.

  15. Hmm. Some of these images are very good, others I’m not so sure about.

  16. Mia says:

    Autumn Sunrise in the forest of childhood dreams, nothing has changed … in the forest.

    I think this photo is really very good! i just love how the rays of the sun and the lighting is captured.

    Tha Calor Polar is also really very cool!

  17. Ryan says:

    Awesome pictures! There’s no doubt that that this is the modern trend in Landscape Photography. I’m a newbie photographer and I’m trying to get some inspirations. I’m glad that I came across your post. Thanks!

  18. Joseph says:

    First, Great idea (s) for a GREAT website.
    Second, if this article is about “Modern Trends in Landscape Photography”, then
    I missed it. I’m a landscape photographer in the midwest and one of the requirements for
    that title, IMO, is that you display a “body of work” that is you signiture, your style, YOU. That
    is NOT what I see here. I see hopefulness; I see promise; I even see inspiriation. But what I
    don’t see is a landscape photographer. IMO. :o)

  19. Thanks for your thoughts, Joseph. The point of the article is to show trends….not a specific body of work. Some of the shooters featured have extensive bodies of work.

  20. Lily Rose@Best Brain Supplements says:

    This is nice move – to sum up the trends of landscape photography. Somehow, I think that B&W is an evergreen that never goes out of fashion, but I really see that HDR is big now.

    And I love the texture emphasis!

  21. Lily Rose says:

    I had to get back and see this once more. I’m still trying to figure out my favorite.

  22. Kurt Alsop says:

    Outstanding article. I already saved your page. Keep going. Regards

  23. Thanks Kurt! Glad you found the information useful.

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