I have this hopelessly romantic notion that ‘spirit of place’ is a metaphysical reality; that as humans we can be in a place and somehow communicate with our surroundings, allow ourselves to feel the emotion that’s wrapped up in the ‘spiritual energy’ of any given location.
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The Power Of Simplicity


‘Winter Trees’, Swinderby, Lincolnshire
Canon EOS 40D, EF24-70mm f/2.8L USM @ 30mm, 1/50 sec @ f/11 ISO 100
Unfiltered. Handheld.
Adobe Lightroom.

“The power of simplicity cannot be overstated. We live in a visually chaotic world; our visual cortex is continually bombarded with complex, confusing and demanding sensory input.”

The Power Of Simplicity

Snow and fog are a soul-stirring combination for landscape photography; they profoundly transform the familiar views that surround us, offering evanescent glimpses of regenerated landscapes. Previously distracting backgrounds and skies are rendered invisible by fog, allowing middle-ground elements to take on an ephemeral emphasis. Foregrounds are homogenised by the snow, removing textural detail and creating precious ‘negative space’ for creative minimalism. The elimination of compositional complexities from both near and far elements of the scene has a welcome flattening effect, emphasising the middle-ground and exaggerating the dimensional compression inherent in the photographic process. The pronounced diffusing effect of fog also has a dramatic effect on the quality of light, markedly reducing colour saturation and contrast; creating a monochromatic milieu with a narrow dynamic range, perfect for pastels or high-key rendering.

Misty manipulation of the landscape with depth giving way to ‘design’, pastel purification, smoothing of contrast and textural constraint has a significant impact on our imagery; all these aspects combine in a magical way, culminating in captivating visual simplicity.

The power of simplicity cannot be overstated. We live in a visually chaotic world; our visual cortex is continually bombarded with complex, confusing and demanding sensory input. Consequently, stopping for a moment to engage with an image that oozes simplicity, can offer the viewer a moment of mindfulness in a storm of chaos, a calming respite for momentary visual peace. On the rare occasions when the subject matter resonates too, then an image can transcend expectation and communicate directly, without the need for conscious translation. For a fine-art landscape photographer, this is the ultimate goal.

My image this month was created on a foggy winter’s day after a heavy snowfall. A caravan park usually offers a distracting backdrop to these trees, but I seized the moment to create a minimalist image as the fog obliterated it. The snow removed texture from the usually muddy foreground field, creating ‘negative-space’ to emphasise the visual potency of the trees despite their subtlety. I made several exposures at different focal lengths, experimenting with various heights and vertical placements of the row of trees. The image was processed in Lightroom with very little manipulation; I lowered the colour temperature compensation to create a cold pastel blue effect and lowered my black-point to help emphasise contrast in the trees. Courtesy of the snow and fog, this usually cluttered chaotic canvas has been transformed into a minimal pastel paradise.

This article first appeared in Outdoor Photography Magazine. Reproduced with kind permission.