Steven Friedman was born in 1964 in Ottawa, Canada, graduated from University with a degree in Economics and pursued a successful career as an Economic Consultant. First working with a pre-eminent Canadian economic think tank, and then breaking out on his own, it wasn’t until he found an SLR camera on an autumn hiking adventure in the Gatineau Park that he took his first photograph. This new found craft quickly became his passion and before long he established himself as a respected fine art photographer. Steven’s prior life as an Economist seems incongruous with the artistic side of his brain that creates such beautiful art, yet they are similar. As an Economist, he made sense of often random appearing data; in his photographic work he makes sense of the chaos of nature.
Steven’s vision is to find the fine details within fabulous compositions of a unique big scene. Photographing a forest with a large format panoramic camera is an extraordinary challenge; finding the compelling composition amongst natural disorder, waiting for the right light, colour, and for the wind to be calm – sometimes for days. Compounding the challenge to capture the ideal scene is that some of these exposures can be very lengthy. Steven is a purist; the image colours you are seeing in this series are matched to the slides he took captured the field. His ultimate goal is for the viewer to feel as though they are standing in the forest with him.
Steven’s photographs have been published in international magazines and recognized with significant achievement awards such as the 2007 International Photography Awards in which he placed first and second as Professional Photographer of the Year in the Nature category and was awarded four Honourable Mentions. In the 2008 International Photography Awards, he placed second as Professional Photographer of the Year in the Nature category, winning five Honourable Mentions. That same year, he placed third as Professional Photographer of the Year in the Nature category in the Prix de La Photographie Paris (Px3), winning four Honourable Mentions. Steven is a 2009 Finalist in the prestigious Hasselblad Masters Awards in the Landscape/Nature category. Also, in 2009, Steven won a second in the Professional Photographer Nature Category International Photography Awards and three Honourable Mentions. In 2010, Steven won a second prize at the Prix de La Photographie Paris (Px3) and a first prize at the International Photography Awards.
Exhibiting his work in 10 galleries internationally and collected within corporate collections, Steven personally prints images to create a true sense of awe with his viewers. His latest collection of panoramic tree images are mounted on aluminum and measuring over 90 inches in width. In addition to printing his own fine art photographic work, Steven is considered a master fine art printer, working with discerning artists who seek the finest quality results.
When Steven found the SLR camera that autumn day, he also found his greatest life passion, which he feels fortunate to be able to pursue every day.
Steven photographs with a Horseman 617 camera using Velvia 50 film and a Hasselblad H4D 50 digital camera. Steven’s website can be found at www.friedmanphoto.com.
The following are 12 images from the Horseman 617 camera.
I have been shooting this stand of aspens for four years now. What attracts to this scene is the abstract pattern on the trunks. I aligned the image to have a gap in the upper centre, allowing the viewer to walk through the aspens. This scene was shot just after sunrise.
Dwarf Birch and Black Spruce Trees
Unique to the North is the vibrant colours of the dwarf birch in autumn. I tend to hike with the viewfinder of the Horseman camera. This makes it easy for me to identify the exact spot to setup. This scene works due to the balance of the pattern of the black spruce trees against the colour of the dwarf birch.
Mossy Beech Trees
I captured this image in the midst of a rainforest downpour. It rained 10 inches that day. My wife held an umbrella over the camera as I setup. I focused using the ground glass, changed the film, and checked exposure with the meter. Just as I was ready to take a picture, the rain began to fall in buckets. We hiked back to car and waited what seemed like eternity for a lull. We went back out, and I was rewarded with about 10 minutes of just spitting rain. What strikes me about this scene is the dripping moss of the grand arms of the beech trees. The misty overcast background adds mystery to the image.
I photographed this scene on an overcast day with fog rolling in out of the scene. You can see the fog lingering in the back of the image. The pattern of small burnt trees contrasted against the autumn grasses and colourful red oaks provides an abstract and painterly scene. The ability for nature to rejuvenate is what struck me about this hillside.
Aspens and Mountain Stream
This is another scene that I have been shooting for four years. Every year, the scene is different. Some years, the colours are intense with yellows and oranges, and others they are muted. On this day, after the rain cleared, the light was overcast with warm highlighting on the leaves and trunks. For me, the placement of the river and the dead aspens is integral to the composition. This image was shot using hyper-focal focus.
This image is unique as a result of the curvature of the aspens and the three dimensional effect that this creates in the print. This was shot with a shallower depth of field; just enough to keep the trunks sharp, while letting the background go soft.
This was my third time photographing this stand of trees. I knew before I left to go overseas, that I wanted to capture this scene in the perfect overcast light and no wind, something I hadn’t been able to do previously. When I was focusing on the ground glass using my t-shirt as a cape, I was eaten alive by sand flies. My wife was swatting them off me as I shot. To get both the background beech trees and front tea trees sharp, I used F32 and focused using hyper-focal. I was lucky to not have any wind, while I was working. The layering of the trees with extraordinary detail makes this image unique.
Autumn Maples Sunrise
I stumbled across this valley of trees in the height of autumn colour, while I was waiting for a neighbouring stand of Aspens to turn. I spent 8 mornings shooting this scene. I remember one morning when a photo workshop group were shooting nearby towards a mountain in the opposite direction. I couldn’t believe that they bypassed this extraordinary valley scene. I did initially shoot this scene with my Hasselblad, but found the composition perfect for a panoramic.
Tundra Sunrise and Fog
This image was taken on a recent shoot in the North. The brilliant colours of the bear berry and dwarf birch contrasted by the islands of loose rocks, and anchored by the spruce trees, provides a feeling of a kaleidoscope of colour and texture. I photographed this scene for three mornings, and the background fog only appeared this one day.
I found this scene in the afternoon as the sun was just about to set. The pattern of the trunks and the sun setting amongst the trees made for a serene scene. On closer examination, one can see the graffiti on a few trunks, which contrasts interestingly with the pristine natural scene. On the large print, there is a three dimensional quality due to the sun setting in the back of the forest.
Maples, Ferns and Moss
I photograph this forest early every spring. Once the leaves of the maples are out, the scene is so dark that it is impossible to capture anything interesting. This forest is extremely cluttered and it was tough to find a composition. I used the tree on the left and right to anchor the scene and was fortunate to get overcast light. This scene has a prehistoric feel to it.
Autumn in Patagonia
The winds can be so strong in the Patagonia region that photographing trees can be nearly impossible. In fact, our car door was ripped off by the winds on an earlier shoot. The moss contrasted with the colourful lenga leaves attracted me to this unique scene.
Steven is currently working on a large format fine art book of fifty panoramic forest scenes. You may view more of Steven’s work at www.friedmanphoto.com.