Australian art photographers explore underwater worlds

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Some photographers have an anxious tendency to hold their breath when pressing the shutter button. Michaela Skovranova is one of them, but to capture her photographs, she deprives herself of oxygen for a few minutes. The underwater photographer chooses to leave the oxygen tank behind and go snorkeling in pursuit of the humpback whales.

“Less equipment allows you to enter the water faster and move through the water faster to track whales,” Skovranova explains.

Love Scars by Michaela Skovranova, as part of the Aquaticus exhibition at the Black Eye Gallery, Sydney.Credit:Michaela Skovranova

The closer it can be to the whale, the better the color and sharpness of the image, so it goes into the water, holds its breath, and waits for the whale to approach her. Sometimes curious humpback whales approach her a few meters away. This is when its fisheye lens comes in handy.

The Sydney-based Slovak-born photographer was inspired to photograph underwater after interacting with a dolphin while swimming on Manly Beach.

“I find it so exciting,” she said. “When I’m underwater, everything slows down, everything becomes very calm, it’s almost like meditation.”

Skovranova’s majestic compositions are currently on display with three other underwater photographers at the Black Eye Gallery in Darlinghurst, Sydney. The Aquatic The exhibition features the work of four Australian artists – Annabelle Gaspar, Graham Shearer, Toby Burrows and Michaela Skovranova – linked by a common interest in the visual use of water in their photography. While the four artists have toured underwater, each brings their own story.

“Underwater photography is an area in which Australian photographers really excel,” says Tom Evangelidis, director of the Black Eye Gallery. He organized the show with an open mind to constructed and observed stages, but only chose artists whose work was created entirely behind closed doors.

Gaspar’s works are from his series Love you till death, each image brings a baroque sensibility to the use of light, color, flesh and fabric, with a clear nod to Caravaggio and 17th century French painting.

The Shearer Series Water sees the female form honoring an underwater world created by the artist. Light and contrast create a visual feast and evoke a dreamlike state.


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