Capturing beauty from above

IN his first exhibition in Sarawak, photojournalist David ST Loh wants to show visitors a fresh perspective of the state’s culture and landscape.

“Over Sarawak”, at the UOB Building at Main Bazaar in Kuching, features stunning overhead images of some familiar landmarks and other less well-known locations.

Loh travelled around Sarawak from April to May to shoot photos for the exhibition, which was commissioned by the organisers of the Rainforest Fringe Festival taking place on July 5-12.

“I want to show people something they’ve not seen before. So you won’t find me shooting a scene that everyone can see.

“That’s why I took up drone (photography) because immediately it gives you a different perspective,” he told StarMetro.

The exhibition’s images were mainly shot in Kuching and its surroundings, Miri, Kuala Baram and Batang Ai.

“I also covered two big festivals, the Kaul in Mukah and Gawai.

“I try to give people a unique view using the technology we have now. For example, I stitch together 34 frames to create a 360-degree image.

“A lot of shots are taken straight down from above. When you see something from the top, the perspective really changes,” Loh said.

One of the images he likes best is an overhead view of the Kaul festival. Titled “Thanksgiving”, it shows the head boat carrying the “Bapa Kaul” (Kaul priest) and “seraheng” (ceremonial basket) leading a procession of boats to the river mouth.

“As a photojournalist, people is what I’m interested to cover. Even though I’m using a drone, which is so detached, the subject that I love is still people.

“I try to capture the culture, but not as something static. So the drone shots of the “Bapa Kaul” coming in and the picnic on the beach are my favourite shots because they capture the essence of the people of Sarawak and show images that nobody has seen before,” he said.

Loh also described his work as a combination of photography and fine art.

“I try to capture images as art. For example, this overhead shot of the Kuala Baram shipyard looks like a painting, which I’ve titled ‘Colours of Klimt’.

“Klimt was a painter who used a lot of gold in his work and you can see some gold colour in this image,” he said.

Loh, a Penangite, added that he wanted to show fellow Malaysians the beauty of their own country.

“Many times people will be shocked and ask me where this place is, is it in China, and I’ll say no, it’s right here.

“We love Sarawak, it’s so pretty and it has all the material (for photography).

“In this exhibition, I think we’ve accomplished what we want to do, which is to give a different perspective of this city and this state that people think they know,” he said.

“Over Sarawak” is showing until July 12 from 10am to 6pm daily. Entry is free.