Landscape photography is a very personal vocation. We are all seeking similar objectives, but the direction in which we choose to travel and the results that we achieve as a consequence can be very different. Any assessment of whether we have succeeded or failed in achieving those objectives is always subjective and can be defined either by the perceived standards of others or those we decide to set ourselves.
My interest in landscape photography has always been from the perspective of a mountaineer, climber and walker. It developed from a passion to capture on film the remarkable places that I had visited in a style that illustrated them at their very best. Over the years this developed into a distinctive, simple, factual and instantly recogniseable style that I describe as 'Mountain Photography' as opposed to 'Photographic Art'. With advancing years it has been necessary to tailor some of those photographic objectives to match my ability to carry heavy and complex equipment onto the mountains, but my fascination with mountain form and mountain light remains undiminished.
In common with so much in society photographic fashions and trends change, and influenced in recent years by the development of ever more sophisticated digital cameras and complex and powerful computer software, we have now reached the point where many landscape photographers, in the preparation of the finished image, will carry out more work in the studio post-capture than on location pre-capture. I completely reject this approach. Much of my career has been spent working with film cameras and without all the digital aids that are available today. Until the arrival of the digital camera the unique skill of the accomplished landscape photographer lay in his ability to correctly compose an image and assess exposure on location; there was no going back, nor was there any means of altering an image once it had been taken and found wanting after the processed film was returned from the laboratory.
There has also been a recent trend towards what I would regard as an excessive use of corrective and creative filters. I concede that there are lighting conditions in which corrective filters can be useful and, on occasion, justified. But I would argue that the excessive use of, and reliance on, creative filters to achieve an objective is a simple admission of either a failure to make the best use of one's camera and lens capabilities or an unwillingness or inability to judge when the appropriate conditions are favourable out in the field.
I hold firmly the belief that this has all led to the appearance on the market of an avalanche of material which quite simply is contrived, over-manipulated, over-saturated and over-sharpened. I find this kind of imagery totally alien to my personal vision of the landscape and I remain resolved to continue to produce images that are a simple and an honest representation of the natural world.
Images : The Five Sisters of Kintail (top), The Snowdon Horseshoe and the Llynnau Mymbyr from Royal Bridge, Capel Curig (bottom).