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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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Blogger Beck said...

I think there's the energy of youth and there's the knowledge and mastery of mid-life - and each brings its gifts. When I was a young writer, I deliberately held back my writing, knowing that my voice was callow and not yet read - as a culture, we undervalue maturity, I think.

4 March 2009 at 07:56  
Blogger Heather said...

I find this post so very encouraging. As an artist who is only now beginning to feel like I am finding my place (at 34) it is discouraging to see so many much younger artists already established. Due to health issues there are already things I cannot do but I am determined not to rush and to do my very best with what I CAN do.

4 March 2009 at 08:32  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you have created many "bests" already, but I sure hope that you have many more "bests" to come. You do beautiful work and it has only grown more interesting over the years. Hope you continue on for a long ride!

4 March 2009 at 19:15  

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