on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

Undiscovered Country

Larry Mendenhall

Larry Mendenhall

My early interest in photography turned into several stints of photographing, writing, and editing for newspapers. After 14 years of being told what pictures to take and moving on to other endeavours, I was looking forward to making photographs for myself. The trouble was I didn’t know what I wanted to photograph. That changed in 1998 when a trip to Banff National Park in Canada sparked my interest in landscape photography. Since then, landscape photography has become my connection with nature. Being out in the landscape – especially by myself and early in the morning – is a soothing, almost meditative, experience. In a world of jangling cell phones and hectic schedules, I feel it’s important to share that feeling through my photographs.


The agricultural landscape that I do most of my photography in does not lend itself to a minimalist approach. The landscape is dotted with farmsteads, grain silos, wind turbines, and a host of other distractions. Isolating a subject in such a busy environment is not impossible, but it is difficult enough to be frustrating.

When fog sets in, frustrations and background distractions disappear. Driving through an all-too-familiar landscape on a foggy day becomes a trip through undiscovered country. The windmill in a field that – on a bright, sunny day – would border on the trite now is a great photo opportunity. The rolling hills covered with crops and a windbreak become useful graphic elements.

At the same time, fog is concealing distracting details it is revealing a fresh perspective. It encourages a new look at old things. It’s easy to develop lazy seeing when driving past very similar views. A fog-enshrouded landscape helps me “restart” my seeing by providing a different context to the familiar. Looking at my environment in a different light encourages me to be more mindful of the things around me when the fog disappears.

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