Night Reverie

Photography, The Artist's Journey

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I didn’t quite drop everything for the fog. Not quite. I thought I should finish this damned kitchen sink installation thing. I thought I should probably feed the kids. But the pull of the fog is a strong one. It’s hardly ever here and doesn’t last long and I’m no good at shooting it yet. And while I wouldn’t say I resented the interferences, I would say I was quietly aggravated. And when Sobeys didn’t have any more whole chickens left, damned if I was going to go grocery store hopping.

When I shoot, there is a high load of energy and anxiety in equal measure. There’s a freight train in my head and it leads me. I don’t feel the cold of my hands, the scrapes or bruises I collect, wet feet. Someone happens to me. Just one more. Just one more.

Then there is the anxiety of getting caught shooting someone’s home or a plaza security guard chasing me off, the boogey men in the night when I shoot at night (I shoot a lot at night), the jerk surprise blaring of a horn (why do people honk when they see me shooting, I don’t get it), the sudden appearance of pedestrians right behind me that I didn’t see coming. And this thing about getting back home. And taking up time. Damn, I forgot my phone! Shoot, it’s 3 in the morning already. I’m sure I’d shoot better if I was calmer.

But there is this other thing, this freight train inside, driving me, something amped up. Go. Go. It’s like increased awareness. Like heightened living. Along side of the anxiety there is this other thing. This excitement, this giddiness, this joy in the capture. And it always takes longer than I think it should and always longer thanI think it actually has. And I’m there. As present as could be. Just one more. Just one more.

It takes its toll, naturally.

After, I am completely exhausted. Physically and mentally. I don’t know what I’ve been doing with myself to be this tired. I wonder why I do it. I’m not sure why I like shooting then. Or if I actually do. Especially this night business. I like the light. I love the sun. Why do I do it? Some days I can’t even be bothered to really look at what I got beyond reviewing the images on the back of the camera. Getting the card out of the camera and putting it into the camera, starting the apps and all the seems like too big of a chore.

Later, when I have a quiet time to myself, or maybe as a treat to myself, I’ll look at the shots. This is a different thing. Like a secret thing. But calm. Measured. Like a sleuth. Sometimes, often times, there is at least one that demands my attention. It’s not always the one I think it’ll be. Sometimes it takes time to discover it. The onslaught of images to sift through sometimes causes me to overlook a diamond in the rough.

This is one of them. I remember this sequence of shots very well. The fog was starting to disappear but what was left of it was starting to settle as low lying mist. I was caught by the soften of the light. I had to get back home and I was in conflict. But I couldn’t let it go. I remember now why I shoot. I look at the disasters you’ll never see and think about what I can do better next time. I lovingly treat the images that I like even just a little. Little gems, little jewels, little gifts. Just one more. Just one more.

Landscaped

Photography, The Artist's Journey

So I’ve taken a bit of a side path with my more recent work. I haven’t shown a lot of landscapes here, probably because I just didn’t want to be associated with my late father, landscape painter, Richard Ferrier. Besides I was a city person, concerned with urban things. Truth is I take quite a lot of shots of skies, and often water as I’m around it a lot.

Recently I did a couple of classes on landscapes, and I took the opportunity to work on my long exposures and water. I’ve wanted to get those dream long exposure water shots for ages, and never mastered the logistics of it.  The class had us shoot the sunset, but I was the last one back stumbling my way in the dark.

This is the one I showed to the class. Quite a few went before me. I was impressed with the variety of shots, both with the content and the quality. When mine came up on the screen I felt disappointed. The screen showed a much less vibrant shot than this which I was prepared for, but it wasn’t that. My reaction was: all it looks like is a bunch of rocks! Why did I shoot that? Ha!

But the response of the class was more than I could have hoped for, and maybe they saw what I did originally.

This was shot at f11, 30 seconds with an ISO of 100. The sun had gone down. That’s Toronto way back there in the background. If you look carefully you can see the CN Tower.

Creative Process Rumination

The Artist's Journey

I’d go out at night, sometimes around 9 or 10, sometimes much later. I put jazz on the car radio. From time to time I would dictate notes on my iPhone, capturing my thoughts and contemplations as I spent hours alone.  I fill a thermos mug with wine and walk around in the dark in the neighborhood. I’m always keyed up and anxious, but I also love being out in the dark and the excitement of it.

What started as being a simple exercise of photographing your neighborhood turned out to be more complex the more I focused on it. I found myself thinking about what my photographs meant. I found myself thinking about what it meant to live here. All those hours alone contemplating my life here, how I came to be here, why I hadn’t left.

I found myself I found myself contemplating my conflicted feelings about being here.  And yet they were a part of who I was in some way that had to do with me figure out who I was as a teenager. Here I am at middle-age knowing full well the kind person that I am and yet dragging the past with me.

Conflicted between trying to make this place more beautiful more special, and at the same time driven to capture the worst of it. Back-and-forth I would go. I discover things in the process of it. Seeing what I’ve been drawn to, I see I’m looking for the drama that maybe isn’t there, creating the drama that maybe isn’t there.

Overcoming Fear

Blocks, The Artist's Journey

Fear, fear, fear. What am I afraid of?

Fear is a common block to getting stuff done, but it doesn’t always take shape the way you expect. Sometimes it hides underneath things so you don’t even recognize it’s fear. It often masks itself as procrastination. Sometimes we simply don’t know how to start or get going and the fear of the unknown keeps us shifting around for a distraction. Social media. Food. Getting our work space just right. The inspiration hunt.

What are you afraid of?

Fear of Success

I’ve read it’s common to be afraid of success. It that true? I recently hard that someone was afraid to admit they were a good artist because it meant no excuses. Or there is the pressure of having to perform to your standards. But I’ve never heard of anyone being afraid of success when they haven’t started – if that’s you tell me what it’s like for you. But when I hear it it’s kind of like a balm. Ah success, yes that’s what I’m afraid of. Well now, isn’t that silly?

I tell you what I’m afraid of: death. Let’s put things in perspective.

Fear of Failure

Fear of failure on the other hand makes sense to all of us. We got it. It resonates because there is a kind of death in failure. Death of hopes, dreams and ego. And before you want to downplay the importance of ego like many people do, the ego doesn’t deserve its bad rap. Ego is us.