You've traipsed across hill and dale, or perhaps over barren moorland or windswept beach - and now your prize awaits. Before you, something catches your eye and stirs your creative juices and before you know it a photograph is forming in your viewfinder. That trip was worthwhile after all...
But just what was it that caused you to pause, to consider a particular arrangement of aesthetically pleasing key elements and conditions? What message(s) are you seeking to convey to others, or even to yourself for that matter?
I believe it is primarily this consideration that separates great photographers from the good, mediocre and just plain bad. Many of us will first start our photography with wild abandon - clicking away like dervishes hoping that one of those dozens of shots will somehow work. Sound familiar? Then hopefully you'll have by now surpassed that stage, and gone on to instil some facet of what it is that caused you to stop and depress that shutter button in the first place in to your final image.
Just take a look at any successful landscape photograph, whether it be by a master or enthusiastic amateur and there should be a triangle - that is one that connects and bridges the divide between the photographer and the viewer via the image itself. The best examples of this ensure little doubt as to why the shot was taken, and to my mind this is best achieved by the photographer's ability to convey a message. Light and weather conditions creating a specific effect on the landscape can often create a powerful and easily identifiable emotive response between parties, but there are other, more subtle considerations too. Personally, I often seek to introduce movement as a key feature of my images - whether that be in the sway of grasses, scurrying clouds across an open sky or the blurred presence of people within a scene. When you start to associate meaning with your photography, together with a sense of place and intent then strange things begin to happen... Your technique will naturally vary, but with practice it's possible to transcend a simplistic and obvious composition and instead reinforce same through being able to impact emotion, drama and and a sense of mood through pixels on a screen or ink on paper.
Most likely (and at an ever-increasing precedent thanks to the internet), much of your audience will never have happened across the location you've shot. This allows you a tremendous opportunity to shape their vision, to reveal some facet of the scene that engaged you and helped shape your own interpreted account...
True skill comes from marrying that perceived by the photographer with that assumed by the viewer!