Brilliant impressions of Australian flowers

By Alice McRae 22 January 2013
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Photographer Esther Beaton offers a new perspective on native flora with her vibrant artworks.

THIS COULD BE THE first art exhibition inspired by an insurance company.

The idea for Natives, created by nature photographer Esther Beaton, was born around a decade ago when Esther was commissioned to photograph a calendar of Australian flowers for a promotional campaign.

“They wanted some really difficult flower shots and I got it done, but it was quite extraordinary trying to get hold of these native flowers from all around Australia,” says Esther. “It really spiked my interest.”

Esther, an award-winning photographer and regular contributor to Australian Geographic, first shot the native flora in her studio before digitally layering the images on top of one another.

Nature photography gets a digital makeover

“I played around a lot with lighting and background and I was getting somewhere, but still not far enough,” she recalls. “One day I took one of these images into Photoshop and started creating my own layers. I introduced more and more strange colours. I still liked it – it wasn’t losing the quality of the plant itself.”

Esther’s exhibition, now showing at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney, is a study of Australia’s botanical treasures – a showcase she hopes will encourage people to value Australian flora.

“I remember once somebody said about a forest: ‘It’s so messy!’ I don’t want people to have that impression. I want people to think our native plants and animals are different, but beautiful.

“I guess the whole message is to just look deeper.”

Natives is on until 30 January at Palm House in Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens. It is open from 10am to 4pm every day and entry is free.