Rob, It'd probably be a pretty good place to hide out after the high altitude emp burst takes out all our communications and returns the world to the early 19th century. Actually, it's a root cellar at a ranch that was homesteaded in the 19th century.
But with regard to landscape, if anybody wants to see why there's no way photography can compete with painting when it comes to landscape, they need to look up Albert Bierstadt's painting: Among the Sierra Nevada Mountains, California. The image kept jumping into my mind as I read the comments on this thread, but I couldn't remember the name of the painting or the name of the artist. Finally, after a bit of a search, I found it. You can get a rough idea of what's involved at http://www.artchive.com/artchive/B/bierstadt/bierstadt_among.jpg.html. You can get a larger view of the painting by clicking on the "Image Viewer" hyperlink on that page, but to see the real article you need to go to the Smithsonian American Art Museum in DC.
You could spend the rest of your life sitting with your camera waiting, like Ansel Adams, for this kind of scene to appear, but you'd die unsatisfied. Yes, the painting's exaggerated, the mountains in the background are stretched, and the lighting's physically impossible, but so what?!! The first view of this painting is almost enough to knock you down. I've never seen a photographic landscape that can produce anywhere near the emotional impact of this painting, and there are plenty of other paintings with the same kind of impact.
I also love landscapes, both the actual landscape and our representations of them. I like paintings and this Bierstadt one is just a bit over the top for me. It reminds me of Bob Ross a little in the way everything is idealized. But I guess that is a matter of taste because some embellishment to feature what I think are the important elements of a scene is ok so maybe it's just the degree to which Bierstadt (and Ross) take it.
While I'm rambling I want to include some thoughts on beauty that this thread touched on earlier. I once had a psychedelic experience (shhh don't tell my mom) where I was out hiking in the mountains and climbing around boulders and the theme for the day was beauty. "WTF is
beauty?!" Is beauty in our minds and part of perception or is beauty inherent to the objects we admire? Anyway that had my head spinning for hours. Or something did anyway. Good times.
But I think the question is a valid one to consider and I tend to believe more that beauty is in the beholder's eye, but yet I still have this emotional feeling that it is connected to the objects as well. Hard to resolve in a tidy way for me.
When I was an active watercolorist I really admired the work of John Singer Sargent
and his treatments of grand scenes as well as intimate ones. He definitely stylized his images but in a different way from Bierstadt. Somehow it strikes me as more real, yet still an idealization.