The photo above was taken at a very popular place in Yosemite called Gates of the Valley or Valley View. I’m sure you’ve seen photos from this place before and probably better ones than this. This view of Yosemite, however, is so compelling that it’s hard to take a bad photo from this spot. That’s how it is with most grand landscape photographs. They’re basically documents of extraordinary locations. As long as the photo is exposed well and not horribly composed, it will look good. However compare most photos of extraordinary locations to the experience of actually being there, and being there will win out every time. There are very few photographers who can photograph locations like this and make them unique and their own. Galen Rowell and Marc Adamus come to mind. Mere mortals like me will look for more intimate and less grand places to make compelling images.
This image is probably not a location you’ve seen before. Interestingly enough, it was taken at the same location as the first image. However I was turned about 100 degrees to the right for this one. Being that it’s in Yosemite, there were probably hundreds of photographers in the park that day, but I wonder if anyone else got this photo. Photos like this one require distilling the experience of grand landscapes and putting them into a more personal point of view. Though I would never compare the experience of a photograph to the experience of being in Yosemite Valley, I feel that this photograph is not dwarfed by the beauty of the location. It stands on its own.
I go out in nature to be wowed by the grand majesty of it, but it’s the essence of the beauty and majesty that I try to capture in simpler more intimate images.