I recently read a book about mountains in art (Bettina Hausler, „Berge - Schrecken und Fascination“), from the earliest paintings of the 14th century until the end of the 20th century. In this book, the mountains have been shown both as a fascination as well as a dangerous place.
Ever since, the mountains have been a mysterious place, the home of gods and other myths. They were holy locations, there have been decision making battles in the mountains as well as catastrophes of nature.
It has been a very refreshing perspective on a different view on mountains. I find it very inspiring to have a look left and right from photography, in this case drawing.
After having looked at over 50 pieces of art of mountains, there was one thing that suddenly came to my mind. Not a single one of them was done in a strong telephoto or wide angle perspective! Most of them have been created in a more or less „normal“ view. I find that very interesting. If you ask any photographer what would be the lens to use in the mountains, you get either the wide angle (mostly even ultra wide angle) or telephoto lens as an answer. However, for a lot of the painters it seemed to be the goal to imitate the human view as best as possible. It is very fascinating, because for them it would have been easy to chose whatever perspective they wanted, they did not depend on a lens that they took with them.
Why is it, that nowadays you can find so much ultra wide angle photographs out there? I think that human beings first of all had to discover that this perspective is even available. The need for this type of lenses probably erased from Architecture and Interior design photography, and once we discovered them, they also seemed to be interestingly for landscape photography. I still think, that especially the ultra wild angle lens is very difficult to master. I think I have not taken a single good photograph with it, and I think most photographers are way too much attracted to the possibility to capture the whole scene in front of them. At the first view, it looks dramatic, and that is something that the normal lens has not to offer (it is „normal“).
I think we can all learn a lot from the painters. If the normal view has been successful for so many years, it can’t be that bad. Maybe it is worth letting it in and maybe even take it as the only lens on the next trip to the mountains.