Priska Wettstein’s love affair with photography began in 2008 when husband Paul presented her with a camera.
“I don’t know why he did that,” she says, “but ever since then, I’m just hooked. So whenever I go for a walk, or drive out of town, or just need some time to myself, I grab my camera and just go.”
In her native Switzerland, before moving to Canada in 2011, her favourite subjects were flowers.
“I used to go into flower shops… and buy just one nice flower, but that’s not possible here.”
Now, winter scenes and the northern lights are among her favourite subjects. These are challenging subjects, but the self-taught photographer enjoys a challenge.
The resulting digital images soon found their way into her computer where she makes extensive use of Photoshop to alter colours and emphasize textures, building layers to come up with a finished product that she likes to think of as a photo-painting.
Wettstein sells her art online and they are also displayed in the Aurora Inn, which she and Paul own.
She is now having her first public show: her art is currently on exhibit in the audio-visual room at the Dawson City Museum. Glenda Bolt, manager of the Dänojà Zho Cultural Centre, suggested the idea to museum director Alex Sommerville, who approached her.
“Of course I said yes, but then I began to wonder what pictures to use, and were they good enough,” she says.
She’s not used to being the focus of the discussion about her images. Generally she’s behind the camera or in front of her computer, and what people see is the finished product.
In the end, she designed the display herself.
There are five clusters of photographs in the room. Each set is anchored by one large image, and then bookended by smaller works in various sizes. There is a flow of theme and colour through the sets that ties them together.
There is a set of wilderness images, showing stark trees and caribou. Another set features animals and flowers. A set of late wintery landscapes contrasts the land with cloud patterns. Another set shows iconic Dawson buildings and landscapes. A final set is focussed on ravens, one of Wettstein’s favourite subjects.
As she says, they are not quite photographs and not quite paintings. People often ask just what they are.
This batch of images has been printed on lightweight metal, through a process that enhances the colours and textures, and can be completed with either a gloss or matte finish.
“The metal (printing) is just so sharp and clear. It’s just ready to hang; you don’t need a frame.”
The prints are so light that those at the museum are just suspended from finishing nails.
Priska Wettstein’s photo show is on display at the Dawson City Museum until the end of the Riverside Arts Festival in late August. The museum is located at 595 Fifth Ave.