Pictures of the prairies

Flying in Formation, one of Ken Tickner’s works on display at the Grace Campbell Gallery, is a combination of a few seperate shots. (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

Ken Tickner doesn’t pick his photo subjects. They pick him.

The Saskatoon-based photographer, who grew up in Prince Albert, photographs scenes of nature that capture his attention. A selection of those images of man-made and natural environments is on display at the Grace Campbell Gallery inside the John M. Cuelenare Public Library until September 26.

Tickner has been a photographer since 1978, focusing on minimalist photographs and the balance of light and dark.

The exhibition at the Grace Campbell gallery consists of metallic photographs set in floating wood frames, smaller ultraviolet coated metallic prints in wood frames and traditional matted and framed photographs.

“People will see how to view the world in a new way,” a description for the exhibition reads.

Tickner began his artistic career working in architecture in Prince Albert, Edmonton, Lethbridge and Saskatoon. The exhibition is far from his first in his hometown. Tickner’s work was recently on display at Amy’s on second, and he has had a piece purchased by the Mann Art Gallery for their permanent collection. The same piece also finished in the top 200 of the Royal Photographic Society international print competition, a contest which saw over 6,000 entries.

The current exhibition has no central theme. Tickner prefers to focus on the individual characteristics of each shot.

“It’s a variety of subject matter,” Tickner said. “I put my best pieces into a show. I feel I can do a better job and just put my best work out there. I’m really happy with the show at the Grace Campbell Gallery. It’s mostly all Saskatchewan scenes. There’s all four seasons. Each picture stands on its own and just makes for a compelling exhibit.”

When Tickner goes out shooting, he’ll either go out alone or with his wife.

“I don’t specifically go out with any goal in mind. Just whatever’s out there that I find appealing I’ll photograph,” he said.

“I think the subject matter finds me. I don’t find it.”

In his younger years, Tickner would often gain inspiration after a cup of coffee. Now he’s given up caffeine, but his art provides him with a similar buzz.

“I sort of rely on god to find the subject matter for me,” he said. “It’s sort of a grove you get into that takes the place of caffeine. It’s sort of the peace you find in nature. The scene represents itself.”

A few of the works on display right now are photo collages consisting of a few different individual shots. Tickner’s friend Bill Oleniuk helps put those pieces together.

“He’s a good friend of mine, and he helps with a few of the pictures. He’ a photo manipulator. He’ll take two or three of my images and combine them into one,” Tickner said.

As an example, Tickner mentioned his piece Flying in Formation. It’s a shot of a flock of geese flying in front of the sun. Tickner shot both the image of the geese and the photo of the sun from his driveway in Saskatoon. Oleniuk then combined the shots into one photo piece.

A newer camera with a faster focus helped Tickner take that shot with the birds, about 20 feet overhead, in perfect focus.

Tickner’s experience with his equipment allows him to instinctually know how much exposure a certain image should use.

“There’s a lot of tools you can use and develop over the years,” Tickner said. “I sort of know by instinct now when to underexpose and when to overexpose to capture the precise shot,” he said. “Sometimes I’ll use a mukltiple exposure effect to add to my creativity.”