Making sure your photographs are crisp and in-focus is one of the most basic and essential rules of photography.
A new art exhibition at the 12th St. Studio/Gallery/B&B is deliberately ignoring that rule.
"In A Blur: Photographic Impressions" is the creation of gallery co-owner Amy Buehler and local photographer Doug Derksen.
They both took blurry photos, but for different reasons and using different techniques. There are approximately 15 pieces from each artist in the exhibition, some of them made up of multiple photographs.
Derksen took photographs of natural scenes like the Assiniboine River and forests, but used a long exposure time and moved the camera during the process. The result is a set of photos that have a painterly look, with the movement creating lines that resemble brush strokes.
"My images tend to have more of a rich colour, sort of evocative nature," Derksen said. "I’ve always been intrigued by abstract painters and wished I could do the same."
Buehler photographed a television with a video paused at various points of a video. One of her pieces, a series of 16 images from a First World War training film, features someone demonstrating how to put on a gas mask.
"When you photograph television and you pause it, you get a blur between two images," she said.
Because of the blurriness, it appears like the figure is struggling to take off the mask or is having trouble breathing while wearing the mask. There is a violent, desperate quality to the images that Buehler said was not present in the original video.
"What we see in the still images really is not very close to the original intention," she said. "What we see is distorted and changed. It becomes much more horrific looking because it was intended to be a safety training film."
According to Buehler, the idea for the exhibition came from a visit she made to Derksen’s house. She saw a blurry photograph of a deer in snow that Derksen had taken and thought it would make for a good show.
"The deer was completely blurred out," Derksen said. "Only the snow was sharp and in the foreground. Kind of a counterintuitive thing. When I printed that one, I printed it fairly large and a couple people came up to me and said I was really brave to print something that wasn’t in focus that big. Everybody liked it because it had an impact."
While Derksen has had his work displayed at the Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba before, the bed and breakfast and studio in an old house makes for a different kind of stage.
"It’s a very different experience, it’s in some ways more intimate," Derksen said. "They’re in different rooms, different locations. It’s a pretty nice gallery."
All of the pieces in the show are available for sale, with items being delivered to purchasers following the exhibition’s conclusion. Derksen said that potential customers seeing what the art looks like in a home setting helps them imagine what it would look like in their own homes.
Buehler said she takes several factors into consideration when placing art in the gallery, such as the surrounding furniture, lines of sight, lighting and more. In this exhibit, she tried to keep most of the artwork at a similar height for consistency.
The exhibition is running now until April 29 at 307 12th St. The gallery is open on Mondays from 7 to 9 p.m., Wednesdays from 1 to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 1 to 5 p.m. Appointments can also be made to visit outside of those times. There is no charge to visit the exhibition.
» Twitter: @ColinSlark