Exploration and Creation
The process of searching for something that you want to photograph, of looking for landscapes you want to depict, can be a mysterious process. What makes you want to make a photograph? Searching for meaning in a landscape could seem a foreign or futile process if you are uninitiated and unexperienced, but the process of looking for subjects in the environment to photograph is exciting and inherently valuable.
One of the interesting things about landscape photography is that it is very accessible. Access is not the greater challenge. Cameras exist in great abundance, and there are lots of parks with forests, mountains, streams, beaches, and other interesting things to discover. What makes it difficult is the not knowing.
To want to make a landscape photograph, you have to become accustomed to the process of exploring. Exploration already implies a lack of knowledge. It means you are looking for something hitherto unconscious. It requires going out into the world with the goal of bringing back something different.
Studying the Landscape
Through searching for subject to photograph, an artist gradually grows to know a place intimately. Hiking becomes a form of reading when you enter into this mode of searching. Any landscape is constantly changing with the seasons, and even a small park is infinitely full of potential subject matter. This means that it is virtually impossible to fully know any landscape. By paying careful attention to it, however, you can become very familiar with a space.
Only through putting in the time can an artist know a space. It is a relationship that requires work and patience. Similar to studying English Literature, or the history of Chinese Painting, this is a process that could never be complete. There is always more to learn.