We spoke with Timo about his latest project, “Atacama Lithium Mine,” and the significance and power of color in his photography.
Timo Lieber is an aerial and landscape photographer with an environmental theme in his most recent works. An explorer of the world, he has documented the impact that humans have on our planet. His latest project, “Atacama Lithium Mine,” explores the world’s largest reserves of lithium which are extracted from enormous colorful brine pools at an accelerated rate owing to the move away from fossil fuels. Timo traveled to Chile to document this unique landscape in all its dazzling color, taking Phase One’s new IQ3 100MP Trichromatic Digital Back to test its power to capture color as his eye saw the scene.
Timo Lieber speaks about the Atacama Lithium Mine project
“I am fascinated with altered landscapes and the impact we humans have on the environment. The Atacama project is focused on an area that is undergoing significant change because of one single metal: lithium. Lithium is a vital ingredient in modern rechargeable batteries that power billions of smartphones, laptops and, increasingly, electric cars. Electric cars use approximately 5,000 times the lithium of a smartphone and demand for the metal is expected to soar as electric vehicles begin their ascent.
The photography series looks at the source of lithium, high up in the Atacama, the world’s driest non-polar desert. It is here, in the heart of the so-called “lithium triangle,” that some of the world’s largest reserves are and where lithium is extracted from brine pools that are so large they can be seen from space. It is an ever-changing environment, shaped by man, with a significance that expands well beyond the boundaries of this otherworldly landscape.
In this project, I am focusing on detail, rather than the broader scenery. Shapes, patterns, textures, and colours all play a vital role. When I research locations, it often starts with interesting shapes and patterns. Though in the case of my lithium project it was the combination of man-made structures and awesome colours that immediately caught my attention. I envisaged the series as an artistic body of work that will hopefully get people thinking. Not just about lithium but a greener future overall.”
“I envisaged the series as an artistic body of work that will hopefully get people thinking. Not just about lithium but a greener future overall.”
The significance of color
“Colour is incredibly important in my work. I feel very privileged to experience some of the natural world that is often very remote and difficult to reach – may it be the vast Greenland ice sheet or a remote desert landscape like the Atacama. I am incredibly excited about being able to tell the story of these places. But for that story to be a true representation of my own experience, I rely on technology. Nothing quite yet matches the human eye and our first-hand perception of nature’s wonders.
Working with the best possible sensor, however, is the closest I can bring my audience to admire the immense palette that nature has created.”
Phase One’s new IQ3 100MP Trichromatic Digital Back has a completely redesigned sensor that is capable of capturing color in the same way as the human eye sees. Given the importance of color in Timo Lieber’s projects that document the reality of the rapidly changing environment; capturing the scenes exactly as his eyes witnessed lets the photographer share their vision without compromise, and the audience sees what they saw with a degree of accuracy like nothing before.
“I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the new Trichromatic back – particularly for this current series where colour is so important.”
Experiencing 101-megapixels of Trichromatic color fidelity
“I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the new Trichromatic back – particularly for this current series where colour is so important. I like to work with natural colours, and the colours that the new sensor delivers are very pleasing to the eye, so there is really is not that much you have to do in post processing to get the look the way I saw a scene. I very much put the Trichromatic through its paces – in an environment that is as hostile as it gets. If I had to summarise my experience in one sentence, it would be ‘extreme resolution meets extreme colour fidelity.’ ‘It captures vivid and vibrant colours but it also captures more muted scenes incredibly well. Phase One continues to push the boundaries of what is possible with digital photography. If you are in love with colour photography, the new Trichromatic is as good as it gets.”
Timo Lieber shot the Atacama Lithium Mine project using the IQ3 100MP Trichromatic Digital Back on the XF Camera Body and Schneider Kreuznach 35mm LS f/3.5 Blue Ring lens.
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