Artist Catherine Nelson’s work transports you to a different dimension. She creates surreal universes by photographing and digitally fusing hundreds of photographs together. Nelson is an Australian artist based in Amsterdam and her background is in art and film, creating visual effects for films like “Moulin Rouge,” “Harry Potter” and “300.”
‘When I embraced the medium of photography, I felt that taking a picture that represented only what was within the frame of the lens wasn’t expressing my personal and inner experience of the world around me. With the eye and training of a painter and with years of experience in film visual effects behind me, I began to take my photos to another level.’
Nelson doesn’t know how many images she will need for a piece. “There is only one rule,” she says, “take lots of photos.” The sky alone can require around a dozen images. She shoots from all distances and perspectives, taking close-ups, panoramas and everything in between. She looks for contrast in what she shoots — “I look for dead trees as well as living trees,” she says — and for different types of light or texture.
Each piece takes up to a month to complete, on average. The simpler pieces, like “Beach” or “Elba,” take longer, requiring more technical skill and time to blend more textures. When she shoots in locations that are easily accessible, more effort is spent removing people from the images. Harder to reach locations that are less populated require her to travel long distances, sometimes by foot. At Devil’s Pool in Australia, she battled March flies and leeches to get her shots. Shooting on the water from a boat, canoe or padelo (paddle boat) always offers unique perspectives to her pieces and these images are used to create the skies and the water.
“I am not trying to depict a landscape but rather describe my experience in it, traveling through it experiencing it from far, up close below and above. Rather than capture one moment, I want to capture many and present them in one image.”