Photo Project: Mountain Landscapes and People

In the discussion to my previous post on mountain photography Hannes raised a couple of good points. Firstly, he talked about how clouds add character and (I guess) texture to a photo and he is right about that. And secondly, he raised the use of people in mountain landscapes to give a greater idea of scale.

When I produced that post I thought about including people but then reckoned that it would make the post too long. But Hannes is right, the inclusion of people does help with scale. It also adds other interest as well.

The late, great, travel writer Bruce Chatwin was also a fabulous photographer. He always reckoned that landscape had little interest to him on his own; places and landscapes were made by the people in them. I maybe paraphrasing him a little but that was the gist of what he was talking about. It’d an interesting point of view.

Memories of many great mountain walks and treks often revolve around the people you meet along the trail. Certainly, if I look at my trail journals and online diaries (such as those here of the Challenge) I can clearly see that many days are marked by a conversation or a chance encounter. These can be reflected in photographs.

Here are a couple of photos taken during a glorious summer day on the Brecon Beacons, one without figures and one with.



Without …


… with!

Walking up Ordessa

The Ordessa Canyon in the High Pyrenees. Like many other stunning mountain landscapes it is difficult to really capture the scale of this place, but I think the cattle help somehow!


Head of Ordessa Gorge

As I got closer to the canyon wall it became all but impossible to capture the scale of it. But the snap of these two walkers seems to give an interesting sense of scale and expectation.


Crossing the Col d'Aratille ...

This wouldn’t be much of a shot without the walker, but somehow with one it tells you a lot.”


Phile Turner — Tweeting Across Scotland


The Big Country!

Phil again, completing the size of it all …


Yep, people have their place Hannes, you are right!


  1. Nice piece Andy. Glorious pictures too.
    I have never “got” Bruce Chatwin. I have just had another go at “In Patagonia” (as my youngest was spending a few weeks down there). Dreadfully dull stuff. In fact, I would go as far as to say bl**dy hard work.

    Now, Eric Newby, on the other hand…

    Haven’t seen much of Chatwin’s pictures. They have to be better than his writing…

  2. Andy, thanks a lot for picking up this topic! Reading this post and your previous one made me think about it myself, resulting in this article:
    The writing is German but at least the example images are universal.

    By the way, I agree that many memories of past trips are about the people one meets. Unfortunately, only recently did I realise that taking pictures of these people can really help to capture the mood of that particular day.

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