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Behind the Scenes: The Grand Ballet

Heiko Hellwig

June 29, 2021

Small fish in large format. These pictures require the right technology and the sensitivity necessary to catch the perfect moment. A video offers a glimpse into the photographer's atelier.
A studio, a glass aquarium in front of a black backdrop, and strong flash lighting is about all Heiko Hellwig needs to put on a great performance. At the very heart of the project are Betta splendens, better known as “Siamese fighting fish”: with gorgeous colours and filigree fins, this species is destined to become a true star of the stage. However, capturing the poses of this rather small fish – only a few centimetres in size – is anything but simple: the fish can move with the speed of lightning and, as models, are extremely wilful. The photographer certainly needed the right camera, and it was the Leica SL2 with macro lens that ensured that he got perfect pictures. The “making of'' video offers a glimpse behind the scenes of the Grand Ballet production.

A very patient Hellwig spent days photographing the grandiose poses of these colourful fish. The second act of the performance was no less complex: it took many hours of digital post-production, before the series achieved its full impact. The task was to select the right motifs from among thousands of exposures, in order to digitally create images where a mixture of fighting and dancing appeared as a complex choreography. In the end, Hellwig’s effort proved well worth the time required: never before has the fish's fascinating elegance been revealed in such sharp detail.
Ulrich Rüter
Image and Video: © Heiko Hellwig
EQUIPMENT: Equipment: Leica SL2 with Apo-Macro-Summarit-S 120 f/2.5

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Heiko Hellwig+-

Heiko Hellwig  © Klaus Mellenthin
© Klaus Mellenthin

...was born in Wuppertal in 1960. He currently lives and works as a freelance photographer and photo artist in Stuttgart. He founded his first studio in 1991. He spent many years working for large concerns, such as BMW, Bosch and Lufthansa, and has been published in international magazines. From 1998 to 2001, he taught photography at the Haller Academy of Art in Schwäbisch Hall. Nowadays, he is dedicated primarily to free artistic projects, produced mostly in conceptual series, which are distributed by Lumas. More


Behind the Scenes: The Grand Ballet

Heiko Hellwig