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.
A series with butterflies can be discovered on the Leica Blog