Intervista ad Hans Strand

Nianån River, Sweden, February 1992

“Nianån River, Sweden, February 1992.”

Intervista ad Hans Strand a cura di Salvo Orlando.

Hello Hans, I’m very glad you accepted our invitation to explain us more about your photography vision.
I was lucky enough to meet you during the last Asferico photo festival. I can confirm you are an excellent landscape photographer and a very pleasant person.

Would you tell us something about you and your approach to photography? How long have you been a photographer?

I started quite late in my life. I was 25 years old when I bought my first camera during a school trip to California. I took my first rolls of film in Yosemite National Park ( 21 rolls). No wonder I became a landscape photographer after that :-)

I admired for many years your images, from classic landscape photography to more intimate details. During the last decade photography has undergone radical changes, how was your experience related to the transition from film to digital world? How did the world of photography change from your point of view with the advent of social networks?

My way of taking pictures have changed over the time. In the beginning I was very much looking for drama, such as mountains in morning and evening light. I am not looking for that anymore. I rather want to implement some quiet poetry in my images than drama. I love the new digital technique. The control in phenomenal. I don´t think I have miss exposed one single shot since I started shooting digital with film it happened all the time.

Larch Trees, Valle Ferret, Italy, October 2013.
“Larch Trees, Valle Ferret, Italy, October 2013.”

In your career you have published several books and I know you are going to publish three new volumes about intimate landscape. What is the process behind your books creation? Do you start from a project you have in mind or you rather select the pictures when you have a full portfolios of a specific theme/area?

Normally I start to see a body of work growing and bit by bit it might give possibility for making a book.
I always take my time with my books.The Iceland book was the result of 19 years of returning to the country.

I purchased one of your latest book: “ICELAND ABOVE AND BELOW”, a wonderful collection of photographs in which Iceland is seen from a different perspective. Beautiful images captured in flight, from an helicopter, what are the main difficulties in this kind of photography? What kind of equipment did you use?

The majority of the aerials in ICELAND ABOVE AND BELOW were shot from airplanes and not from helicopters. There is a big difference in difficulty between these two options. Shooting from a helicopter is easy. You fly from A to B to C etc. and it is like shooting from a tripod, whereas shooting form an airplane is like shooting clay pigeons. In both cases the positioning is very important. To place an airplane at the right position is a nightmare. I am using a Hasselblad H3DII-50 with prime lenses 50mm and 80mm. I set the ISO at 200 and use shutter priority at 1/800 sec.

Although landscape photography comes first on black and white (I remember Ansel Adams for example…), today we have the opportunity to capture all the amazing colors of nature, how do you approach colors in your pictures? I can notice your pictures are always very well balanced in terms of tones and saturation. What do you think about this very common trend today on the web of pushing the saturation to create something spectacular, which indeed it goes to the detriment of emotionality and essence of Nature.

I agree that colors are pushed way to hard agains the surreal and unreal. I think man has an urge to make nature looking more dramatic and sensational than it actually is. The result is over romantisised images verging on kitsch. The power or impact on an image is not in the amount of color. It is rather in the separation and subtlety of colors. With digital we have all this is our own hands and therefore we need to take one step back and ask our selves if the colors are looking possible or real? My advice is that it is better to be on the quiet side than to be on the too noisy side.

A 1217052 “Autumn mist – Lake Trekanten, Stockholm (Sweden, November 2009).”

As you know I am a big fan of Volcanos, I know that in 2010 you had the opportunity to photograph the eruption of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull, how was that experience?

It was a very dirty experience. Ash was falling like sand from the sky. The air smelled like rotten eggs. Except from this it was very interesting. A lot of restrictions made it very difficult and I had many ideas that I could not accomplish. Still I am happy for what I got.

We know you’ve traveled a lot around the world, which is the place that you reserved a special place in your heart? Is there any new place you would like to visit and photograph?

Iceland is and will always be in the middle of my heart. I will return as long as I can still take pictures. There are still millions of untaken images there away from the iconic places. I am looking forward to a trip to South Georgia in 2016. It has been on my wishing list for 30 years and now it seems to happen.

In 2008 you have been the winner of the ‘Hasselblad Master Award’, what do you think about photographic competitions?

If you can use the results to promote your self, it is fine. If you fail, then don´t take it so seriously. After all the result is all about the personal taste of the jury. Sometimes they like what you do and sometimes not. Competitions are stupid in one sense, but also fun.

Thank you very much to Hans Strand and good luck for the future!

Follow Hans on his personal website: Hans Strand

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