Shannon Heng, a macro photographer, showcased works from two of his collections, the first one is of exotic orchids with a minimalistic approach, giving these a portrait form and the second titled “Lightness of Being”, showcasing a surreal lighting style to multi-petal flowers in the garden at a photography exhibition at Lalit Kala Academy, Chennai.
The photographs are made to look like paintings. The trick behind it is patience; wait for the right time while over exposing the background while simultaneously under exposing the subject and then leaving the light to create certain forms so that it looks like a painting. These are single shots with lighting by controlling the depth of field, light output and ambient lighting.
Shannon says it took him years to bring the working of the concept. His style or genre of photography is called Botanical Portraits or Portraitures, where he tries to photograph plants as if they were human beings. He tries to dignify them and to photograph them for his viewers in a position in which they normally see the plants in. He says, “You will normally not look at the plant in this manner. So I try to catch your attention by shooting it in a way so that it catches your eye.”
A lot of his focus is into botany and not just flowers but also the leaves and the plant itself. Most of the photos are shot out in the field. The flowers are not plucked. These grow either in pots or on the ground. He brings the studio out on to the field to shoot. He fuses the Indian vibrant colours with the simplicity of Chinese minimalistic style. So it becomes a fusion of two cultures into an image. There is a bit of drama but in a simple form. All these are shot in the form of minimalistic Ikebana approach.
He created the project “Lightness of Being” by accident. He then worked every day on it to better the technique. The flowers are actually tilted down because of the weight. He then rotates the image. The trick in this is to give the flowers a glowing internally. The outermost layer has been light with the sun’s rays. He then patiently waited for the sun to come to an angle that the rest of the flower is dark after which he lights the inner most part using a flashlight.
“When people look at my images and go this is unique, is what brings me happiness. I believe in being humble and learning from one other. I try to understand other photographers and use their techniques to create good pictures in my genre. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. But at the end of the day Photography is learning with trial and error.” says Shannon....