Every Photographer is a Snowflake

If you line up four people and compare their photographs of the same subject matter, you start to see into their minds.

There’s an opportunity to do this little experiment – and at the same time check out some beautiful photography – right now at The North End Gallery in Whitehorse.

The gallery is hosting an exhibition of new photography by four local artists, and all four shoot the wild beauty of the northern landscape and wildlife.

However, the exhibition features some wildly different images – and it’s evidence of how it’s the mind that creates art, not the camera.

The show, called Facing North, features work by Yukoners Peter Mather, Robert Postma, and Peter Von Gaza, and Atlin-resident Manu Keggenhoff.

Simon Gilpin, fine art manager for the gallery, knows the four photographers distinct styles and methods well.

“Peter Von Gaza has a more traditional style using black and white,” Gilpin says. “His images are a combination of film and digital that shies away from manipulation. Peter Mather has developed a way of printing onto metal, giving his work a crisp, clean look that is almost like looking out of a window. The metal panels look very modern and different.

“Manu Keggenhoff and Robert Postma are both printing onto canvas, Keggenhoff does this mainly because she is trying to evoke the feeling of an impressionistic painting. Both are attracted to bright use of colour, and the endless possibilities of digital imaging.”

She has been into photography all her life, but shifted to a professional photographer 11 years ago, coinciding with her move here from Germany. Living in Atlin she is surrounded by natural gorgeousness that inspires her to take beautiful photos. The funny thing is that rather than capturing the beauty just as her eyes see it, she is using photographic techniques to capture nature as she feels it.

“On an artistic level, for my own soul, I try to go one step further and reduce images to forms and colours,” Keggenhoff says. “It’s really exciting for me. I do the conventional landscape photos, wildlife and nature, too, but I try to break out and find the essence of colour and form in nature.”

For the past year and a half Keggenhoff has been experimenting with an impressionistic style of photography. She uses long exposures, camera motion, and polarized and neutral density filters to capture the motion of nature in a still photograph. The technique causes texture details to fade, and shapes and colours to rise to the surface.

They’re moody images. So where does that moodiness come from? These impressionistic images may be pushing a pleasure button in the subconscious mind.

Her photograph Open Wide, for example, is a lake, but it looks a lot more like a lake once you actually know it’s a lake. Before that it looks like a dreamy set of lovely colours.

“If I would have straight up photographed it, you’d see a lake with the horizon in the sky,” she says. “With this, I created a calm mood, and show the viewer the colours that surround such an area.”

To create this image she used an exposure of approximately 30 seconds, allowing the details to blur and highlighting colour and form.

“It’s a mood, rather than just a pretty picture of a lake,” Keggenhoff says. “But there’s still the feeling of a water scene in the back of your mind.”

The photography show Facing North will feature a mix prints on canvas and on paper, with metal prints by Peter Mather. Prices will range from $300 to $700.

Facing North is on exhibit at The North End Gallery until Sept. 30. The gallery is located in Whitehorse at 1116 – 1st Ave.

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