Inspired by his florist wife Basia, commercial photographer Isamu Sawa began shooting dying flowers and plants as a technical exercise in early 2015. In order to properly capture his diminutive subject’s decaying beauty, he adopted a sophisticated photographic technique more commonly used in science than art, known as focus stacking. For example, NASA’s Curiosity rover is able to take microscopic images of Martian geology using its Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI). When a
close-focus view of a rock or mineral particle is not possible over the entire image, MAHLI takes a series of images in up to eight focus positions. The onboard software then merges them to create a
single ‘best-focus’ image. Similarly, Sawa sometimes takes up to 60 images of a plant before combining them using computer software to produce a single, crisp and extremely detailed image
in uniform focus.
The technique is painstaking and highly time-consuming, requiring incredible patience, precision and technical ability. But it results in images of staggering beauty, rich in almost otherworldly botanical detail.
As Sawa collected more of his wife’s discarded stock, shooting them in between commercial work in his Collingwood studio, he began experimenting with different forms and plant structures.
The series finally resulted in an exhibition in August 2015 in Melbourne. His first solo show caught the eye of Australian and overseas media including The Age, Broadsheet and influential UK trade journal Creative Review and, by its close, more than 30 large format limited edition prints had been acquired by astute collectors in
Australia and overseas, many of whom hailed from the creative industries. It also led to a number of private and commercial commissions, keeping Sawa busy refining his studio technique and ultimately turning him into one of Australia’s leading exponents of this highly specialised photographic practice.
Now Sydney is presented with an exclusive opportunity to view and purchase Without Water limited edition prints, including four new images never seen before. “These are special images for me,” says Sawa.
“There’s a tremendous amount of precision that goes into each and every one. But more importantly, they’re just so captivating. I feel like I’ve rescued these discarded flowers, in a way, and given them another life.”