What Is Atmosphere in Landscape Photography? Let Us Exchange Some Thoughts

The concept of “atmosphere” plays a huge role in landscape photography; however, it is never really fully explained what atmosphere really is. I'll talk about it here.

To say atmosphere plays a huge role in landscape photography is an understatement. Several of my own personal favorite photos have a great atmosphere in one way or another. So, what is “atmosphere” really? It can be very hard to answer as it often (if not always) comes down to the subjective interpretation of the viewer. Is it possible to find certain elements that we can agree constitute or are atmosphere in landscape photography?

I am not talking about mood or drama. I would say you could have a dramatic atmosphere or a moody atmosphere, but you can also have both a dramatic and moody photo without having atmosphere, or can you? In the above video, I analyze several of my own photos that I think have “atmosphere” in some way or another. I compare the photos and point out what they have in common and present what I think creates atmosphere in landscape photography.

What do you think atmosphere is? How would you describe it? Let us exchange some thoughts and get the talk going. It would be very interesting to hear what you think of the subject.

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6 Comments

Trying to objectively explain what is intrinsically subjective is .....

Andrzej Muzaj's picture

Hi Mads! Thanks for another video of yours. I have to say I'm little torn between two topics. First one: what is an atmosphere in a photo and how would I describe it? And second: how to achieve atmospheric perspective in my photos. I have an impressions that your video focuses more on the second subject, than the first, so I'm not really sure, what shape would you like that discussion to take? Can you give me some hint, which one of those you'd like to discuss more? All the best! :)

Mads Peter Iversen's picture

It could honestly go both ways. As you rightly observed I give my input to what I think creates atmosphere in landscape photography. I'm not sure there is a big difference between what constitutes atmosphere and how to create/capture it.

Mainly I'm just interested in hearing peoples thoughts. It might go in many different directions :)

Jerome Brill's picture

Well unless you're an astronaut, the atmosphere for most photography is Troposphere ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

As you stated, atmosphere can be reduced to particles in the air but much more than that, it is evidenced by the emotions atmosphere evokes in the viewer. The same clouds can give one viewer a feeling of grandeur while another feels fear. Even a lack of particles can create an "atmosphere" of peace or maybe boredom.
As with all things in artistic photography, the goal of the photographer is not so much to merely make you see but to make you feel. What the viewer feels is their contribution to the atmosphere of the photo.

Mads Peter Iversen's picture

"What the viewer feels is their contribution to the atmosphere of the photo." That's a very interesting quote! :)