Sunday, April 5, 2009

Olson's House

Over the years, my relationship with photography has been an intense, passionate affair. There have been long stretches when I have given myself to it heart and soul. At other times, my camera bag collects dust in a corner of my study, where I walk by it day after day. Almost always the camera within calls out to me and I feel that beckoning as a twinge of longing in my gut. As I mentioned in a previous post, the creative life is a weird thing. That which I love the most (and do most well) I often do the least.

The last few years, my favorite excuse for not picking up my camera is the advent of digital photography and all its associated software. Just as I was beginning to feel really comfortable working with film, the whole industry changed. My film of choice--Fujichrome Velvia--was relegated to the sidelines. I've never been particularly proficient at using a computer and whatever victories I've won on this front have been hard won--with great blood, sweat and tears. 

Yes, I've taken a course in Photoshop for Photographers at the Maine College of Art with a brilliant twenty-something nerd, who taught at the speed of light as he gulped down vast quantities of coffee. His jeans, festooned with chains upon which hung keys and other paraphernalia, slipped down low on his slim hips as he darted about the classroom gesticulating wildly and extolling the unfathomable wonders of Photoshop. Don't get me wrong, I loved the guy. I just couldn't understand most of what he was saying.

So, there's this pre-digital era of my photography, which I have come to dub the classical era. I pine for this long-lost period, now shrouded in the mists of time, when I was actually proficient with a camera and produced some good work. 

This period culminated in the summer of 2005 when I took a week-long class at the Maine Photographic Workshops in Rockport with Alison Shaw entitled The Colors of Maine. Imagine shooting every morning and evening at beautiful locales on the coast of Maine with an exceptionally gifted teacher at your side. In the afternoon, out of the hot sun, my classmates and I sat inside and critiqued each other's work. At the end of the week, there was a clambake. After the feast, with the wine still flowing freely, the whole school gathered in an open-air studio and had a slide show featuring the best work of every participant in every class. Oh, my...

With the help and encouragement of my friend Bill Curtsinger, of National Geographic underwater photography fame, I scanned a few of my best slides from that classical era. Over time, I'd like to share a few with my readers. Here's one of the Olson House, a saltwater farm in Cushing made famous by Andrew Wyeth's painting Christina's World. I publish it now as a fitting tribute to Wyeth, who died on January 16th.
A few weeks ago I downloaded Apple's photo software Aperture. Yesterday, I publicly vowed (to my brother, Geoff) that I was going to master it, come hell or high water. I went to bed last night with the User's Manual.  Pray for me. Maybe this time it will take.

1 comment:

Karl Maria said...

Beautiful image, David. I couldn't stop looking at it. Thank you for sharing this. I've never actually had a digital camera. I used to enjoy photography, but my camera (35mm SLR) was stolen in France in 1989, and it just kind of slipped out of my life. Something about the observational aspect of photography - seeing what is there that we don't always see without the camera - it jibes with mindfulness practice.