Inspired by light and climate, the Amsterdam-based photographer shoots otherworldly images playing on natural symmetry across Scandinavia
Taken across Alaska, Norway, and Switzerland, Dutch photographer Misha de Ridder's breathtaking photographs capture the eerie tranquility and grandeur of the few untouched environments left. Focusing on the natural symmetry of the landscape and colours available, de Ridder has collated these stunning pictures of lakes and cloud-shrouded mountains located by prior research via topographical maps and satellite images.
Dazed Digital: Where did you take your landscape photographs?
Misha de Ridder: The natural landscape functions in my work as a means to make art, like a blank canvas, paint and brushes in one. Nature has a priori no intrinsic meaning, the meaning is created at the moment you start looking. I do a lot of research to find specific landscapes using topographical maps, satellite images and the weather forecast in order to create what's on my mind. I've done a lot of photography in the US and recently I did projects in Alaska, Switzerland and sub-arctic Norway. I also work close to home, just recently I have made a photo book, 'Dune', in the dunes near Amsterdam where I live.
DD: Does location i. e where you were raised/live affect your work?
Misha de Ridder: I grew up in the countryside north of The Netherlands. The wide, open, partly agricultural, partly forested landscape sure had some influence on me. But what influences me most that in The Netherlands there exists no real wilderness, everything is touched or created by man. A large part of Holland is just one big city. So my work is made from the perspective of someone who lives in a city and wants to know how to relate to wilderness, to the greatness of nature and in the end to the nature of his own existence and inevitable death.
DD: What equipment do you use and what is it about them that you like?
Misha de Ridder: Most of the time I work with a large format technical field camera, a 4x5" Linhof Technica with a Schneider lens. I always shoot Kodak Ektachrome sheet film, except for a sporadic b&w shot on negative. The transparencies provide a reference when making prints. With analog film there is a physical relation to the actual light that was present at the time of exposure which again translates to the print, it is a magical process. Also I like it that film is an object. I like to push the film to it's technical limits, exploring under and overexposure and difficult light conditions. My video work I shoot on a Canon EOS 5D MkII with a fixed focus Carl Zeiss lens. Autofocus or zoom lenses are not for me, I'm into slow photography.
DD: What inspires you?
Misha de Ridder: That can be anything, certain books or music or even sex. My main source of inspiration is light. Just light. Everything about light is amazing. Another important source of inspiration is the weather, climate and the seasons. That the landscape changes all the time. Just think about it, you are always in the present, it is hard to really comprehend on a bright summer day that in a few months the same landscape you looking at could be covered in thick snow. Your mood changes with the changing of the light, the light influences you on a subconscious level. Being consciously aware of the light, weather and the changing of the seasons I think is a key to find happiness in your life.
DD: Who are your favourite photographers / filmmakers if any?
Misha de Ridder: At the art academy I was influenced by the German Düsseldorfer school: Andreas Gurski, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Thomas Ruff, etc. Later I moved away from them because I think they have too much distance to their subject. I want people to have the feeling that they are in the landscape when they look at my work, it has to be about experience, that somehow you connect. Also American photographer William Eggleston was an early inspiration - Hiroshi Sugimoto is great, especially the seascapes from 7 days / 7 nights. Mostly I like painters, seventeenth century Jacob van Ruysdael is fantastic, but also Gerhard Richter or Soll Lewitt and lots and lots more. There is so much great painting. Part of me is also rooted in land art, take for example James Turell's project Roden Crater, the idea of modifying a volcano only to sculpt how the light falls in the interior, the sheer scale of that. Regarding film, Werner Herzog is a favourite, not to forget David Claerbout.
DD: What are you working on now?
Misha de Ridder: Last week my new solo show 'Solstice' opened at Foam photography museum in Amsterdam. So that has been my main concern. The exhibition 'Solstice' consists of a mix of photography and video work I made in sub-arctic Norway. At this latitude, only sparse vegetation grows on the dark mountains. A sojourn in this landscape transforms the earth into a tactile planet: palpable, tangible. The rugged landscape, the cold and the darkness - or, the lack thereof - leaves you dependent on your own resources. The photo and video work in the show confronts the fragility of human existence in relation to nature. Also the photobook 'Abendsonne' (Schaden.com) was launched at the opening of 'Solstice'. 'Abendsonne' is a study of a lake in the Swiss Alps with mirror-like qualities.
DD: What's next for you?
Misha de Ridder: Soon another photo book, 'Dune', is going to be published by Lay Flat. For everybody else except me, all the work from 'Solstice', 'Abendsonne' and 'Dune' is something new and exciting. But for me the work is done. I'm really looking forward to jump into the next project. There are a stack of ideas I'm craving to explore.