“Landscape photography is the supreme test of the photographer – and often the supreme disappointment.” – Ansel Adams
Since a youthful Ansel Adams captured his first images (on a Kodak Brownie camera gifted to him by his father) whilst vacationing in Yosemite National Park in 1916, photographers have sought to transcribe the immense beauty and majesty of our planet. To celebrate our 2022 Landscape Photography Award, we surveyed some of the best submissions from our previous awards and selected 10 stunning landscape images that display the profound potential of the genre.
1. Yosemite, National Park, USA – Karen Pape
A stunning composition, Karen Pape has captured perfectly the ambiance and resplendence of this tranquil scene in Yosemite National Park, a long-time favorite haunt of landscape photographers through generations, including the great Ansel Adams.
The vitreous lake serves as a lucid mirror for the stunning surroundings: the chiseled peaks, rising dramatically above dense conifers. The soft, glow of the early evening sun highlights the subtle, organic shades whilst providing a palpable sense of warmth. It is an excellent example of a landscape image, one transcribed with such precision and clarity as is befitting of the subject’s profound beauty.
2. Gangi, Sicily – Sara Zanini
This striking image by Sara Zanini (who was one of the finalists of our 2021 Landscape Award) depicts the Sicilian town of Gangi. The aerial perspective and 40-degree angle encompass the intense mosaic of stone and whitewashed edifices and their auburn rooftops; the narrow, winding alleyways that separate them, and the rugged backdrop of the Madonie Mountains. Gangi is a unique and fascinating place, an ancient hilltop settlement rich in history and tradition, and Zannini has captured it beautifully, distilling its unique topography in a single, arresting frame.
3. “Tree of life”, Cakora Lake, New South Wales, Australia – Stuart Chape
At first glance, this striking composition by Stuart Chape (who won third prize in our 2019 Open Call Award) seems not a photographic portrayal of the natural world but rather a somewhat abstract impression. A leafless, golden-hued tree, rendered in oil, watercolors, or perhaps some combination of materials.
However, gradually your brain computes what is before your eyes, (or perhaps you simply read the caption), and you realize that it is in fact an aerial transcription of an earthly landscape, one so surreal that it appears anything but. The arboreal pattern is in fact a series of drainage channels that owe their darkened hue to the tea tree oil that swells from the surrounding forest. It is a truly stunning image that does justice to the uniquely arresting landscape and thus extols the benefits of the aerial perspective.
4. “HCMC”, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam – Andreas Kremer
This striking urban landscape (one of our Editor’s Picks from the 2020 Travel Award) is part of Kremer’s 2019 series, exploring the meaning of ‘home’ to residents of Vietnam’s largest and fastest-growing city.
The juxtaposition of informal ‘slum’ housing, overshadowed by gleaming modern towers, their illuminations appearing as opulent golden hues against the darkened sky, is a powerful one, emblematizing the stark inequalities that exist, not only here, but in cities across the globe. It subverts the perception of landscape photographs as solely pieces of fine art, displaying, with great perspicuity, their communicative potential.
5. “A Breath in the Ocean”, East Lothian, Scotland – Fran Mart
“The soft palette and gentle texture of nature. A captivating moment exploring one of my favorite beaches in East Lothian, Scotland.”
This alluring image by Scottish photographer Fran Mart is undeniably one born of love. It bears a softness and deep sensitivity that speaks to the artist’s affinity with the subject. The subtle twilight glow accentuates this sensibility exquisitely and engenders a watercolor-like aesthetic that brings to mind the work of the great luminist painters who emerged in the US during the mid to late 19th century. A compelling visual ode to a uniquely beautiful place.
6. “Paradise Island”, Norway – Olivier Jarry-Lacombe (Finalist 2021 Landscape Award)
“The sun had just passed the horizon when I arrived at the end of this incredible archipelago located in the Norwegian Sea. I settled down and decided to take flight above the last rocks of the most southerly islet. The view was incredible, and like every clear evening in this late winter period, the polar colors settled on the horizon.”
Perhaps the true test of a landscape image is its ability to induce awe in the viewer, and this portrayal of a Norweigian archipelago by Olivier Jarry-Lacombe achieves that with aplomb!
The aerial perspective frames the myriad of islands flawlessly, along with the mountainous backdrop which recedes poetically into the pastel-hued skies. It perspicuously imparts the majestic beauty of the scene, whilst the verdant soccer field in the foreground adds a further element of interest, and gives new meaning to the frequently-repeated moniker, ‘the beautiful game’.
7. “Jinshanling, The Great Wall”, Chengde, China – Joshua Cavalier (3rd Prize Winner, 2021 Landscape Award)
Though neither the subject, China’s immensely iconic Great Wall, nor the aerial viewpoint, are revelatory choices, photographer Joshua Cavalier has nevertheless captured an image that both captivates and stirs.
The framing is perfect: displaying miles and miles of this immense stone structure twisting and undulating across the verdant landscapes before disappearing into the pastel-hued mountainous horizon. It is a fitting tribute to an oft-portrayed landmark that remains one of the most awe-inspiring on earth.
8. Danjugan Island, Cauayan, Philippines – John Kimwell Laluma
Danjugan Island is a 43-hectare wildlife sanctuary located just off the coast of Cauayan, Negros Occidental, Philippines.
Its pristine beauty is such that it seems almost chimeric: the rich green shades of its verdant interior; the sandy fringe that gives way to the crystalline, turquoise coastal waters, which reveal a fascinating subaquatic world beneath; the gentle ‘peaches and cream’ sky in the distance, punctuated by marshmallow clouds. A breathtaking scene, impeccably rendered by local photographer John Kimwell Laluma.
9. Mt Taranaki, New Zealand – Yifeng Ding
A truly striking image that captivates immediately. The serene lake waters mirror the breathtaking scenery, the volcanic peak set perfectly at the heart of the frame, transmuted into an auburn monolith by the subtle pastel hues of the crepuscular sky. It is a simple yet undeniably moving composition that articulately conveys the incredible grandeur of the scene, and indeed, more broadly, that of New Zealand, the compass of so much great landscape photography.
10. “Useless Loops”, Australia – Ross Long
Extraordinarily painting-like in appearance, particular at first glance, it evokes the work of Rothko and his fellow members of the color field movement who emerged in New York City during the mid 20th century, and demonstrates considerable dexterity and creativity, for the angled, aerial perspective and cropped framing accentuates the abstract charm of the landscape.
All images © their respective owners