“My goal as an artist is to be true to who I am, and aim to create art that will stay around for its good cause.” – Christoffer Relander
As an experimental fine art photographer, Christoffer Relander applies a technique inspired by multiple exposure to create ‘We Are Nature’: a series of dreamy, surreal images based on the ambiguous relationship between man and nature. Christoffer uses his camera as a tool that can help him create surreal, dreamy images with a few clicks – a tool he chooses over pencils or brushes.
“Using a different tool should not necessarily change my work from being classified as art. A common argument is that anybody can take a photograph but, actually, anybody can learn to paint as well. It’s all about how you use your instrument.”
Because of its build, size and 36.3 megapixels, and a preference to the E-model as it caters to photographers who like razor-sharp, high-resolution images, Christoffer’s go-to choice is the Nikon D800E
Christoffer first discovered photography while serving in the Finish Marines in 2008 and has been hooked ever since he purchases his first camera in 2009.
“I literally photographed everything I could think of, I never left my camera at home. It wasn’t just what I photographed that was so enticing. I also enjoyed experimenting with different kinds of techniques, as well as exploring the various characteristics of the NIKKOR lenses and cameras I used.”
‘Bark’ © Christoffer Relander.
Nikon D800E, ISO100, f/5, 1/640 sec, NIKKOR 85mm f/2.8 PC-E & Nikkor 28mm f/1.8G
For his “We Are Nature” series, Christoffer began experimenting with this technique back in 2010 while shooting spontaneous portraits. The series, as the title suggests, revolves around the ambiguity of the relationship between man and nature. Some people might argue that man is an integral part of nature – much like nature is an integral part of Christoffer’s work. “If there is a possibility to create productively with a technique that fascinates you, I couldn’t be more satisfied.”
“The series is not about any specific individual; it is about man and nature itself. By keeping the identities of my models anonymous, it leaves space for the viewer’s own perception. Our perception is subjective.”
At the initial stage, Christoffer scouted for overexposed settings to shoot in to mask his subjects, which he placed in darker areas, from their background. The portraiture images, as well as the texture images, needed to be shot against bright backgrounds. He didn’t like too many peripheral objects distracting his focus and he prefered hills with adjacent trees as the backdrop. Then, once he located the scene, he creates the portrait image by visualizing how the shapes will overlay and blend with the nature.
‘Late Autumn’ © Christoffer Relander.
Nikon D800E, ISO400, f/6.3, 1/640 sec, NIKKOR 50mm f/1.4G
“It’s important to keep in mind that each exposure will only add light on the next one – light areas cannot get darker even if you multiple exposed a completely dark image on top of the previous one. It is similar to film; the sensor only registers light.”
Shooting in RAW format, Christoffer draws the basic s-curves in post-production to add contrast. In turn, he also uses it to lower the output so as to make the whitest white slightly toned. He does not feel that plain white appears natural which, essentially, is the core of his “We Are Nature” series.