Roland Kramer Makes the Coral Mountains Look Like Mars

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“Most of the pictures of this series were the reward after a long and strenuous hike, which made it harder to go back to places & shoot them again if I was not happy with the result,” says photographer Roland Kramer to us in an interview. “You have to constantly keep up with the weather forecasts, so you don’t get caught in a storm on high altitude.” Tack onto that all the difficulties with shooting infrared images. Roland saw this project as an evolution of his Strange Series photography project.

Since the Strange Series, it looks like you’ve continued your Infrared process. But what made you want to leave the city?

While shooting the ’Strange Series,’ I already knew that I want to apply this technique to the art of landscape photography. I left the urban environment as I was going on a road trip through Europe with my girlfriend during the summer. 

We were visiting a lot of national parks and spent a lot of time in nature. That’s why I mostly focused on mountain sceneries during the Coral Mountain Series. It was a beautiful feeling to be able to sort of travel again after this rough & bumpy start into 2020. Being on the road definitely made me feel creatively refreshed. Shooting images of nature, which I love the most. 

I find this series so fascinating. In the city, you were surrounded by vivid colors. And here, I feel everything is very muted. How did you feel about this? Usually, one would expect vibrancy outside of the city.

This has a lot to do with how I approached the editing process of this series. While editing the images of the Strange Series I had a rather experimental approach to it. I was going with the flow & didn’t really care how the colors are going to look in the end. The approach to the Coral Mountain Series has been a lot less experimental as I already had the knowledge from editing my first infrared project. 

When I started editing the first couple of images for the Coral Mountain Series, I already kind of knew in which direction I wanted the edit to go. I wanted to create a more cohesive looking series in a rather classic infrared look with red/pink looking grass and blue looking sky. The use of this one main color has been the common thread throughout the whole project & also ended up giving the series its name. 

These are the reasons why the Strange Series looks rather colorful compared to the Coral Mountains Series. 

When I look at this series, it sort of looks like we’re staring at Mars. Elon Musk would be proud. When you were editing the series down to these images, what made you specifically choose them?

These images just happened to be the last ones during my selection process. Some of those images I chose because of an interesting composition. Some I chose because they had interesting objects, patterns, or structures that I liked. Others I chose because they showcased great use of contrast. The next ones I chose because the red color adds to the scenery perfectly. I also chose images because they complimented the flow of the series. 

As you can see, there have been several factors which made me choose an image or not. For me, the selection process of the images for the final series is as important as shooting the images in the field. You can immensely enhance the quality of your project by your selection, but you can also destroy it. It’s a difficult process and I always try to be as meticulous and careful as possible while selecting the images. I take my time from the first selection to the final one and try out as many combinations as possible. 

I definitely wanted to create an unusual or even strange look. The goal of this series was to turn places I know into unknown places. I wanted to achieve this goal by a visual alienation. 

What were some of the biggest challenges about photographing here vs in the city?

Probably the pressure of getting the shot in a limited time frame. Most of the pictures of this series were the reward after a long and strenuous hike, which made it harder to go back to places & shoot them again if I was not happy with the result. The motives I have been shooting in the city have been really close to where I live. So I was able to revisit places constantly as it wasn’t not much of an effort. I actually did that a lot during the production for the Strange Series. 

Other than that, the weather high up in the mountains is probably also a lot nastier and changeable. You have to constantly keep up with the weather forecasts so you don’t get caught in a storm on high altitude. Furthermore, you also have to be way more careful where you place your next step compared to the city. 

You say you were trying to step out of your comfort zone. When you shot these, did you just shot everything you saw or did you do some pre-planning?

The pre-planning consisted mainly of deciding the locations that I am going to shoot. Most of those locations were places that I already visited before. The idea of this series was to revisit those places that I already know by heart & see them in a new light with the help of infrared technology. 

This process was fascinating to me. Through the viewfinder of my infrared camera, I turned places from known to unknown. Enabling me to experience familiar sceneries for the first time again.

Besides my infrared camera, I was also shooting non-infrared/normal images on the mountains. I had to constantly carry two cameras with me at all times during every hike I did, which was not only really exhausting but also really annoying at times. Constantly switching from one camera to the other. From infrared to non-infrared and back. It was definitely a challenge to be focused on using both systems & not neglecting the other one.

Same camera setup, right? 

Most of the setup has been the same. Mid-journey I switched from my 70-200 to a 100-400, so there have been a few more high focal lengths images in this series than in the last one. 

Still rocking my modified Sony Nex-6. 🙂

All images by Roland Kramer. Used with permission. Be sure to follow Roland at his website, on Instagram, and on Behance. Also, take a look at our previous interview. Got a cool project? We’d love to see it, and you can find how to submit your own at this link.

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.