Christoffer Relander creates images of beautiful sceneries that transcend photography whilst intertwining them with mystic and anonymous portraits. Consequently, his work becomes something more than unadorned depictions of reality. Christoffer thinks of his camera as a tool that can be used to develop 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.”
Growing up in the countryside of southern Finland, Christoffer Relander embraced the adventurous possibilities of the picturesque landscapes. Today, he approaches them through the lens of his Nikon D800E.
Originally a student of graphic design with a strong interest in fine arts, he discovered photography while serving the Finish Marines in 2008. When he finished military service in 2009 he bought his first camera. “… after that 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.”
For his “We Are Nature” series, he has applied a technique inspired by the traditional way of image processing called multiple exposure. He 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 Christopher’s work. “If there is a possibility to create productively with a technique that fascinates you, I couldn’t be more satisfied.”
The initial stage sees Christoffer scouting for overexposed settings to shoot in to mask his subjects, which he places in darker areas, from their background. The portraiture images, as well as the texture images, need to be shot against bright backgrounds. He does not like too many peripheral objects distracting his focus. Preferably, he will look for hills with adjacent trees. Then, having located the scene, he creates the portrait image visualizing how the shapes will overlay and blend with the nature image.
“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.”
For now, he sticks to shooting with the Nikon D800E, chosen for its build, size and 36.3 megapixels, with preference to the E-model as it caters to photographers who like razor-sharp, high-resolution images. 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.
“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. Therefore, it is only logical that art is subjective too. In other words, my art should speak for itself.”