Chris Friel‘s landscape photographs are stunning and all the more so for someone who not only took up photography six years ago but is, unbelievably, colour blind. It was no surprise to me to find out that Friel has been a painter for many years – his colour aesthetic comes out in his work – and it might be trite to say but his images remind me of Rothkos great paintings – an abstraction of landscape through colour.
His decision to take up photography as a medium coincided with his departure from London to live on a beach in Kent and it is the countryside and coastline that are at the core of both his process and subject matter. In his early photographic work he mainly worked in black and white due to the fact that he didn’t have confidence using colour because of his eye condition. Thankfully for us he moved on.
Although his work is digitally produced using a combination of tilt-shift lenses, long exposure photography and intentional camera movement during an exposure he stays away from post – production manipulation which makes the final images all the more extraordinary. And his influences? Well he has cited the Russian photographer Alexey Titarenko, the Canadian photographer Frank Grisdale and the British painter Kurt Jackson as well as James Wainwright, Peter Scammell, Toshihiro Oshima, and Luis Montemeyer.
Here’s what he has to say about to Tim Parkin on his process:
I think the only consistent theme in the process is walking long distances, usually in the rain, and shooting far too many pictures. My shooting ratio is appalling. On an average afternoon I take about 600 images, of which I keep 50 and have one that I like if I am lucky. In my defence I would say that I know when I have a picture I will keep as soon as I have taken it. I just have to hone the process a little!
In terms of the black and white pictures most are just shot straight with canon 24 and 45m tilt shift lenses on a canon 5dmk11. The lenses are at maximum shift to give a big sky and then tilted in various directions to give a shallow depth of field. I did dabble with black and white long exposure for a while but soon moved over to colour.
In terms of colour pieces, these are generally shot with the same lenses using long exposure times and camera movement. I just use a neutral density 6 filter and a polarizer, set the camera to maximum contrast and wrong colour temperature, exposure for 2 to 5 seconds depending on the subject matter, wave the camera around, and hope for the best. Practice gives you an idea about the balance between keeping the camera still and movement.