Pictures like this one from Iceland trigger a feeling of reverence at the sheer scale of natural beauty, the absence or relative insignificance of human impact, and the presence of silence or peace that exists independent of human concerns. But what is it about the sense of wide space and vast scale that induces feelings of numinous presence in that moment? Places that attract landscape photographers seem to be in the far reaches of Wales, highland Scotland, Iceland and northern extremes of other parts of Scandinavia; or on the opposite hemisphere in Patagonia, southern Chile and Argentina, New Zealand. Unlike places between 45 degrees north and 45 degrees south of the equator, these more extreme angles on the Earth’s surface give great shadow definition to show depth and distances. And very often there is a relative absence of human intervention (at first glance, at least; global warming effects on flora and fauna aside).
Flickr.com photo by Martin Abl