Bruce Munro Tropical Light

Shane Eecen

Shane Eecen is a multi-talented commercial photographer who has ventured into the experimental world of time-lapse photography, motion capture and audio. For the past ten years, Shane ran one of the largest commercial studios in the Territory, Creative Light Studios.  Last year Shane closed Creative Light Studios and moved his skillset into the greater outdoors. Here Shane, who has been a resident of Darwin for 27 years, shares his love of the Northern Territory landscape, running in warm tropical rain and the change in seasons and light.

What do you love most about living in Darwin?
Darwin is such a unique place to live. The change in seasons can be so dramatic. It has such an impact on the flora and fauna throughout the year. And the light. Well, the light goes from incredible blue skies without a single cloud to intense brewing storms with rain and lightning. The colour of the sun even seems to change as it dances across the ochre cliffs and freshly burnt country. It is incredible to watch. You just have to take the time. This is where my journey with time-lapse began.

What is the best thing about the wet season?
The best thing about the wet season is the drama it brings. The change in light as the storms approach. The lightning, the sounds of the rain as it comes down so hard you have wait to continue any kind of conversation.

What is something you can only do during the wet season?
Run in that warm tropical rain. That’s magic.

What are you doing for the Tropical Light Exhibition?
Through this project I look forward to showcasing all the drama, moods, changing colour, different patterns, the macro and the micro and unique personality of the Territory landscape through a collection of time-lapse photography, still motion and audio. From an artistic perspective these images, which include cliffs, beaches, clouds, star-scapes and mangroves, will be presented through a visually engaging installation of projected light, space and time.

I was drawn to being part of ‘Tropical Light’ because of the idea of light. Photography is all about light and light attracts people from all over the world. There’s also a unique light in Darwin and the Territory, which over the years I’ve aimed to capture through still images and more recently time-lapse photography. 

As a photographer you don’t always relate to yourself as an artist. Some of what I do is art and some of what I do is recording but by being involved in this exhibition and putting these two strands together I’m going into the arena of public art and that’s exciting, stimulating and a real challenge.

How long have you been experimenting with time-lapse, still motion and audio?
I've been a commercial photographer for about 16 years now and ran a commercial studio in Winellie from 2008 to 2018. I covered everything from portrait photography to advertising. However, about six or seven years ago, I entered the world of time-lapse photography with commercial and industrial projects, including some aspects of the INPEX project.

Some of these cameras had to stay in the field for months capturing thousands of images per week, resulting in only minutes of playback. Creating systems of how to store and then create video features from thousands of images was definitely a challenge at first. I felt it was quite cinematic in effect. Once I had the thousands of images playing to together, it was only natural that it required sound to add the next level of drama, mystery, suspense and emotion to bring the story to life.

What do you like about time-lapse?
Time-lapse photography is quite incredible. You can distil a whole day, clouds moving across the sky, a wild storm, a flower opening, or a nightscape all in 15 seconds and that produces a magical effect. Time-lapse photography produces stunning images that give viewers a glimpse of the world as they rarely see it. Add motion capture and audio and you can experiment with themes and ideas and create works of art which are alive with dynamic, interesting motion.

How did you get into audio?
Well, it’s a long story so I will try to keep it short. After a car accident in 2017, I had severe concussion and found that I had to wear headphones nearly 24/7. The external sound was just too much for me. As I recovered, which was almost a two-year process, I started to notice all the smaller sounds that I took for granted or didn't notice before. This led me to invest in more field recording equipment to capture the sounds that time-lapse photography left out. Sound is fantastic. It can move you in so many ways. It can relax you, heighten your senses and take you on a journey. Adding sound to time-lapse photography just gives you that extra layer to be immersed in. 

How does audio fit into your project?
The audio I'm capturing for this project is mostly organic. I have recorded wind blowing through treetops, oceans breaking, bird song first thing in the morning. I recently tried to capture the crackling of fires as parts of the country were being burnt off, but it was just a little too hot for me and my gear at that time. I am still working on bringing it all together. I've started experimenting in using multiple audio samples as multiple tracks. It’s a little like a multi-tracked orchestra of sounds from nature.

What is motion capture?
Motion capture records specific movements of a person, animal or object and translates them into computer-animated 3D images. It's a little like virtual reality and you can view images in an entirely different light. Something like this takes a photographer beyond the limits of still imagery. This is where experimentation and artistry steps in as you blur the lines between reality and animation.

What does an installation such as yours entail?
It's big! There are so many components. Firstly, generating 30 seconds of video content requires approximately 900 images. So to create loops of 10-15minutes of video content requires 18,000-25,000 images. Then add the audio, computers, hard drives and projecting onto an outdoor space for six months and you have one BIG project. 

How have you developed as an artist?
As a photographer, you don't always relate to yourself as an artist. Some of what I do is art and some of what I do is recording but by being involved in this exhibition and putting these two strands together I'm going into the arena of public art and that's exciting, stimulating and a real challenge. 

What advice would you give to aspiring artists who want to capture Darwin and the Top End in the lead up to Tropical Light and during the event?
I think you have to really experience Darwin by staying just that little longer. By staying, I mean being outdoors, visiting the amazing landscapes and natural beauty we have. Walking in the early morning or afternoon rain. It’s warm rain so you won't get cold. Watching the colours of the landscape change and the red-tailed cockatoos take flight after the rain has stopped. Or finding a great balcony to be on and watch the afternoon storms come in and dance across the horizon with thunder and lightning as your soundtrack.