The Timeless Landscape

Twilight looking out over the Southern Ocean from a vantage point along the Great Ocean Road, Australia.

One of the very special things about landscape photography is the sense that the best photographs seem to exist, somehow, outside of time.

It’s interesting that folks often refer to black-and-white sepia toned prints as being timeless. This notion seems applied equally to darkroom made prints from years gone by and contemporary images produced on the desktop.

Of course we’re not, strictly speaking, talking about actual time, but about the sense that the image in question seems to exist, somehow, out of time.

And it’s true. Camera generated exposures are made, usually, in a fraction of a second and the image that results seems to suspend that moment in time for years to come.


The serenity was palpable as the sun set on Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon in Iceland. The warmth of the sunset and the cool blue of the iceberg and lagoon provided a striking contrast in color and mood.


Explore The Concept Of Timeless In Photography

What do people mean when they use the term timeless in relation to photography.

Rather than it being about a specific time or place I think the term is used to describe a look that seems somehow beyond fashion.

Now, of course, most fashions date. Do you remember when the quintessential blue jeans almost went out of fashion in following the introduction of cargo pants.

I think the term timeless probably suggests a look, feeling or mood that seems to transcend the fashion of the day.

It’s a bit like ice-cream. While flavors like hokey pokey and tutti fruity come and ago chocolate remains, for most folks, their flavor of choice.

Walker Fountain, Night, Melbourne

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What we refer to as timeless probably suggests a purer, less chaotic world. Photographs from those times depict a slower, less complicated and, on first impressions, safer world.

Given that, I think it’s completely logical in this day and age to harken back to the seemingly simpler times we associate with a bygone era.

A replica of a Viking village in a dramatic setting in rural Iceland.

I think this is one of the reasons why warm tone black and white images still work today, even when applied to more contemporary subject matter.

Whether it’s a portrait of a newborn baby or a grandmother; an urban landscape featuring an old Victorian style building; or the outside facade of a suburban milk bar that’s been closed for years, a warm tone treatment can elicit a similar emotional response as a print from the 1930’s.

A fast moving river cascades over rocks near Milford Sound, New Zealand.

The Great Mystery On The Edge Of Our Understanding

In the case of landscape photography I feel this feeling of timelessness can be even stronger.

With water and/or clouds moving through the frame we also have the ability to explore the movement of time within a photograph.

This strange juxtaposition, unique to photography, is one of the landscape photographer’s most potent tools through which she can explore the illusory nature of time and transcend the scene or subject depicted so as to glimpse a heightened, more profound understanding of the reality of the moment.

Together with the interplay of light on the landscape, this is why I love to photograph our natural world.

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru