Forest Details Great Smoky Mountains

Forest Details by Richard Lewis 2014

A Tree in the Forest Smoky Mountains

A Tree In The Forest by Richard Lewis 2014


Spring Trees Smoky Mountains

Spring Trees by Richard Lewis 2014

Intimate Forest Smoky Mountains

Intimate Forest by Richard Lewis 2014

“Sometimes you can tell a large story with a tiny subject.”
Eliot Porter

When I learned that our first morning in the Great Smoky Mountains would be spent photographing in the parking lot of a visitor center, I thought that I may have wasted a bit of money going there. For a hiking fanatic, sitting at the edge of one of the most beautiful natural areas in the world, heading to a parking lot to shoot seemed like a mistake. As usual, I was wrong.

Eliot Porter (1901-1990), a pioneer of color landscape photography, introduced the concept of the “Intimate Landscape.” Unlike a grand scene of mountain ranges, the intimate landscape focuses, literally, on the intimate part of a scene like the shape of a tree, the visual flow through a meadow, or the texture of water flowing over rocks. The intimate landscape is what we were looking for because a parking lot in a national park can offer a unique glimpse of the forest’s edge.

How I Did It – When photographing the intimate landscape it is important to notice the details. Dan Sniffen, a great West Coast photographer, uses the term “complex simplicity” to describe this process. A simple thing like a tree is really a complex array of branches, colors, textures and tonal range. The trick is to put all of these complexities together in a way that delights the viewer and invites them into the simple little piece of the world you are recording with your camera and lens.


Want to be more creative with your camera? Click Here

Like these photographs? They’re for sale as fine art prints. Please visit my new website to see more.