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Saturday 28 March 2009


It comes from everywhere. I get my inspiration from the people and things around me. It’s so nice to be surrounded by talented creative people. When I see my students' and colleagues' work, I get excited. They push me to try new things through their work and their words.

A former teaching assistant and now friend dropped by the campus to take me out to lunch. Aizick and I always have great conversations about photography and all things digital. We learn from each other every time we are together. During our conversation, he said, "You must get a few students that come into your class with the attitude that they already know it all". I'm paraphrasing here but it was along that line. Sure, some people let their egos get in the way. I guess I too have been guilty of that at times! We continued our conversation and I said, "You know, I can learn just as much from my students as they learn from me". Regardless if someone has been working with Photoshop for 10 minutes or ten years, I can learn from them. The way they approach a problem. The way they see. Their process is always fascinating to me.

Things have been a little stressful and busy of late but I have been shooting a little when time permits. It's nice to get back to the camera and the computer. In this post I would like to share with you some of the images I have produced lately that were inspired by people around me.

Dimitri, one of my 4th semester students showed me a great location for shooting the skyline of Toronto. I have returned to this location a few times since. Here is one of my favourite images from this spot:TorontoA couple of weeks after I shot the above image, I returned to the same location with Dimitri, Ray and Marlee. We all shot our own thing. We shot from very different angles, each with our own vision. Ray showed me one of his images and how he processed it and his looked as if he was in a totally different place. So I re-processed one of my images with inspiration from him:TorontoSydney, another one of my 4th semester students dropped by to show me some of his images. He was a bit down, not quite sure of the talent that is flowing out of him in all directions. I'm not sure my words were inspiring to him, but his work was to me. His work is so different, so oddly beautiful. Here is one of my images of my friend Fred (click to see original) re-worked a la Sydney:Fred FishingI can't leave out Carina. She has been working very hard to produce some food images for her final portfolio and is making great progress. Carina inspired me to take this image:Food: garlic, pepper and asparagusOne of my 1st semester students sent me an image he submitted for his creativity course. It was a panoramic image, reworked as a spherical panoramic. I asked Sam how he did it. My version is nowhere near as good as his but I will do a bit more of this kind of thing and see what I come up with. Here is my before and after version:Toronto panoramic
Toronto spherical panoramicAh, it's spring. I feel like hitting the road and exploding with creativity! Can't wait to get back out there…

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Tuesday 3 March 2009

Have I Created My Best Image?

Can you imagine, you are 36 years old and you have landed and walked on the moon? How do you follow that? Would you experience anything as exciting or significant ever again? Astronaut Charlie Duke was the youngest person to land on the moon and has led an active productive life since, but I wonder if he sometimes looks up and longs for that day.Forteau, Labrador © Ron ErwinWhen it comes to photography, it is possible and I’m even sure common for great images to be produced at the beginning, middle, and end of your career. Yes for me it is getting a little uncomfortable crawling out of a tent in cold wet conditions. But I’m still young enough to be out there working. I still enjoy the changing light. Still enjoy seeing and looking. Ansel Adams did most of his greatest work before he was 40. Not that the later stuff wasn’t great. It just didn’t have the same energy for me. I think Ansel spent the later part of his career becoming a master printer. He reworked his images in the dark room and expressed the images differently over time. Ansel was a concert pianist and often expressed photography in terms of music. He felt the negative was the score, and the print was the performance. Ansel Adams followed up his walk on the moon with a space walk. Both periods of his life where productive and wonderful.Lake Superior Provincial Park © Ron ErwinI wonder sometimes though, have I landed on the moon so to speak? I’m sure writers feel this way, especially if they have written a very successful book. Now what? I don’t have that touch stone reference of success but I do feel successful. I guess it depends on how you measure it.Road across Reed Lake Saskatchewan © Ron ErwinWhen Bob Dylan was interviewed on 60 Minutes a while ago, he talked about how his abilities have changed. When asked about his early work he said "I can still do a lot of things, but I can’t do that." I look at my images from the past and I wonder if I have done this? Am I just reworking stuff or am I still growing as an artist? I guess its like shooting a landscape. I tell my students, start shooting before the light is at its peak and shoot through to the other side. It is only then will you see the difference between the good image and the great one.Moraine Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta © Ron ErwinIf we are lucky we will all experience a long roller coaster creative life.Oxtongue River-Ragged Falls Provincial Park © Ron Erwin

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