Exhibit offers diverging takes on nature photography

Two extremes of creativity in nature photography are on display at the Gibsons Public Art Gallery (GPAG) through the month of May. One is minimalist, the other maximalist, and each artist presents images that are striking and unique. 

West Vancouver native Rafael Schoelermann has lived in Germany in recent years, where he’s already had seven exhibitions of his photographs. This is Schoelermann’s first show in Canada, ironic because the Sunshine Coast is where he takes so many of his pictures. His GPAG exhibit in the Main Gallery is appropriately called Waterworks: all the photos are telephoto close-ups of light, sky and other objects that he’s captured in naturally distorted reflections in bodies of water. 

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“They’re little, one-square-metre sections of, say, a whole five-acre bay,” Schoelermann said in an interview at the May 11 opening reception. “The human brain cannot concentrate on one square metre when it’s seeing all the beautiful scenery in a bay – the boats, the ocean, the mountains. 

“Obviously, you are seeing it but you’re not really looking at it,” he added. “I guess I have a fascination with pulling out things that are not necessarily going to be seen for what they are.” 

Award-winning Halfmoon Bay photographer Elaine Hunter’s exhibit, Reflections, has been installed in the Eve Smart Gallery at GPAG, providing a stark but harmonic contrast to Schoelermann’s. Hunter said she has spent thousands of hours at her computer working with photographic software to explore the creative possibilities of the raw camera images she has taken of landscapes and seascapes. The results are still undoubtedly photographic but have become boldly coloured, hard-edged, powerful pastiches of mountains, seas, skies and trees. 

Hunter’s work has been displayed internationally and won a 2018 Pollux Award in the Nature category. Though she works hard to meticulously manipulate her images, she views the results as inherent in the natural scenes she has photographed. 

“I’m working with many different dimensions, which I believe are already there. We just don’t know about all the dimensions that are around us. This is actually what is there when I took [the photo], I believe,” Hunter told the gathering in her remarks at the reception. 

Waterworks and Reflections are on at GPAG until June 2.

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