This guy puts entire landscapes inside jars, all without the help of Photoshop

For the last three years, photographer Christoffer Relander has been revisiting places he frequented in his childhood, and quite literally bottling those locations to take home.

His experimental series, entitled Jarred & Displaced, involves ‘capturing’ various landscapes inside jars using double exposures. For instance, one jar contains a forest from the Finnish countryside, while another features a snow-covered house.

Think of it as preserving memories inside a photo album, but instead of a photo album, Relander uses bottles.

According to Relander, he started the series as a way to reconnect with his childhood. He tells Lost At E Minor: “I got the idea at the time I knew I would become father. I believe it was a combination of nostalgia and anxiety that inspired me—suddenly my own childhood felt so far away.”

While you might easily think that Relander uses Photoshop to integrate his images, he says everything is done in-camera.

“All works are intentional double exposures shot in-camera on a DSLR (Nikon D800E)—this project was not created or layered in an external software. Images are not put into physical jars (as is misunderstood sometimes), only blended into one photograph.”

We were fortunate enough to get a hold of Relander amidst his busy schedule. In this interview, he talks more about how he got started in photography, as well as the process behind Jarred & Displaced.

Please tell us more about yourself. How’d you become a photographer?

“I have always been into creating art. But a photographer was not something I expected myself to become. When I joined the Finnish marines ten years ago (2008), I was the closest they could get to a photographer, as I had done a one-week-long course when studying graphic design.

“In the marines I photographed for a magazine, and eventually got genuinely interested in photography. But it was not until I realised, I as a photographer, also can create my images rather than ‘take’ them.

“I found alternative and experimental photography very interesting early on. After a mistake, I was introduced with multiple exposures and I couldn’t stop experimenting. I soon sold my car and bought a better camera with this multiple exposure feature.

“I often asked myself ‘why aren’t more photographers’ experimenting with this technique? At this time there wasn’t much to be found online, especially not using DSLRs.

“After publishing my first set of double exposures in 2012 my website crashed, inbox got swamped, and I received phone calls from around the globe. I soon realised I might be able to make a living out of this. Since then I have worked as a full-time experimental photographer with a multiple exposure niche.”

How would you describe your style?

“Timeless, surreal, nostalgic and childish. Sometimes perhaps a tad haunting. I didn’t realise this until I had some visitors a few years ago leaving my exhibition saying it was too dark.”

Could you tell us more about the process behind the photographs? How long does it take to shoot each image? What are the challenges you often encounter?

“I decided to shoot this entire project in-camera using multiple exposures, therefore the process started very slow – there was so much trial and error to go through.

“For example how to prepare and paint my jars, how to rewind my medium format film correctly, how to develop film, what film works best and how to lighten the jars etc. I think aligning the film was the hardest part, the most typical reason why I needed to start over. After a while I had found ways to ignore failure, I then started to work more seriously.

“I decided to shoot the follow up project Jarred & Displaced II in color using my DSLR. At first, I wanted to continue on film, but as I do not have the equipment to develop color film yet I simply switched to my trusted DSLR.

“The process got a bit faster as I now could double expose and see the result instantly on my display. However, not having a large viewfinder as on my Mamiya RB67 S Pro it annoyingly harder to composite.”

What equipment do you use?

“For Jarred & Displaced II I used a Nikon D800E with a range of primes and a 24-70, a DIY light tent where I combine a Quadra ranger flash and a light meter. For my latest jar, I have combined two speedlights with color gels.”

Most of the landscapes you’ve captured are from Finland. Do you have plans of visiting other places for the series?

“It’s a good question. I believe traveling somewhere solely to find nice landscapes would not drive me excited. It would need to be more than ‘nice’, otherwise I feel like it could fall flat. Perhaps traveling to a destination I dreamt of as a child that did not turn out to be as expected.”

If you’d like to see more of Christoffer Relander’s work, head on over here.