The Southern Song poet Yang Wanli is known for his Chengzhai style, prominent features of which include humorous language, easy syntax, and nature as the source of inspiration. This article examines two characteristics of Yang's nature poems that contribute to the development of his unique style: photographic seeing and an emphasis on shanlin (mountains and forests). Yang often engages in intensive, camera-like observation and yearns for the space beyond city walls, his ideal site for both life and poetry. The author argues that Yang's efforts to create a poetic practice different from that of the late Northern Song's Jiangxi school, with its emphasis on learning and book knowledge, were only partly the result of his personal experience. The shift away from textual traditions and longing for wilderness must also be understood in the context of an emerging urban culture that began with the Tang dynasty. This cultural development provided contrast and background not only for the rise of Yang Wanli but also for the Rivers and Lakes poets of the next century.